What Is Social Anxiety And How Do You Treat It?
Do you feel a sense of dread whenever you are in a room full of people? Does your heartbeat really fast at the thought of socializing? Maybe you think that these people you meet will judge you or be harsh as soon as you meet them. If so, it means you are struggling with social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder is when you have an extreme fear of social situations. You may have trouble talking to people or meeting new ones. This can be a real struggle if you want to put yourself out there and make new friends. Your fears overpower what you want for yourself. Fortunately, you do not have to continue feeling powerless against your worries. After all, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety. Treatment will teach you all about how the worst-case scenarios we come up with are a stretch of the imagination. People will love you the more you give them a chance.
Here is what you need to know about social anxiety and the best way to treat it.
Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder can have physical and mental symptoms that interfere with your life. You could be dealing with-
- excessive sweating
- trouble speaking
- rapid heartbeat
- worrying about a social event days or weeks before it happens
- avoiding social situations
- self-medicating with alcohol to get through a social event
- missing school or work due to anxiety
A social phobia is when you are afraid of what others will think of you. You could be scared they will give you weird looks or say bad things about you as soon as they meet you. This can make you want to avoid being around people altogether from going shopping to even doing a job interview.
Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder
There is no exact cause of what leads to social anxiety. There could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that come into play. Negative experiences like being bullied at school or work, sexual assault, or problems at home can make you fear people. Anxiety can also be contagious in families if one or both of your parents have anxiety. Witnessing one of your parents avoiding family gatherings teaches you to be fearful of them too.
Social anxiety can also be a biological problem if not getting enough serotonin is there to regulate your mood. An overactive amygdala can also be a growing concern if you are struggling to control how you respond to fear. Knowing what your reasons are for being afraid of social situations is the stepping stone to overcoming them.
Therapy is a great way to speak to someone about what you go through in social situations and what could be the root cause of it. After that, your therapist will help you come up with a safety plan to prepare you for your next social event. You will also learn what to do when triggers come up and build healthier habits of coping. There are also anti-anxiety medications you can take as well as being introduced to support groups to feel less alone in your worries.
Avoiding social situations can make your social anxiety worse instead of better. Once you are ready and equipped with all the coping tools you need, you can ease into social situations. Take baby steps by saying to someone greetings like “Good morning!” or compliment them on how they look. You can also prepare social situations in advance like having a list of topics ready when your friend calls you or role-play possible conversation starters.
If social anxiety is still interfering with your life, speaking to a mental health professional can help you enter a social event with all of the confidence you need.