If you are afraid of getting judged by people or avoiding interaction with people in social situations, you may be suffering from a social anxiety disorder. Read the article below to know more about the condition.
When it comes to mental health, most people do not realize that they are the victim of a mental health condition until they or their dear ones see their lives fall apart. Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is one such mental disorder. It is like an iceberg in the ocean. Just as only the tip of the iceberg is visible, and a massive part of it goes unnoticed under the waterline, the signs of social phobia are overlooked both by the individual and people surrounding them, eventually impacting their physical, mental, and social life negatively.
Social situations like talking to new people, delivering a speech, or a stage performance might give slight nervousness or shyness in some people and is completely normal. But if this nervousness transforms into fear and dwells permanently (at least for six months) in a person necessitating the individual to avoid such incidents, thereby affecting their personal or professional life, it is known as a social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia.
People often confuse the real signs of social phobia with the temporary shyness that most people experience during social interactions. As a result, the gravity of this disorder goes neglected, and such people hesitate to reach out to seek help thinking it to be a part of their personality.
Though this disorder is expected to be more common, the varied intensity of signs one experiences and the type of social scenario puts some people’s lives at risk. People with social anxiety disorder are timid, afraid of being judged, and worried about getting rejected or humiliated by others in a social setup. They are constantly worried about facing the event or being in a scenario well before, during, and after the situation and for an extended period.
While under social situations or about to perform in a gathering, despite having the potential, they tend to,
Get anxious and nervous.
Feel nauseous and awkward.
Sweat a lot, and their body feels hot.
Make no or little eye contact.
Go blank in their mind with a rapid heartbeat.
Breath rapidly and shallowly.
Speak with a soft and shaky voice.
Become self-conscious about how they walk, talk, or look.
Get scared of conversations with new people and hence avoid it.
In the act of over-preparing for the complications that might never occur, they avoid being in such social conditions like a meeting, dating, presentation, stage talks, discussion, hanging out with friends, etc. This might significantly impact their work and relationships.
It is unclear what exactly causes social anxiety disorder, but a combination of factors listed below are considered to cause it.
Genetics - It is thought that to some extent, social anxiety disorders can be heritable.
Parenting Types - Overprotective parenting can provoke this disorder in their children.
Childhood Trauma - Children facing adverse life events like their parent’s death, abuse, family conflict, etc., can also develop this disorder.
Bullying - Children getting bullied at their schools and facing humiliations or rejections from their parents or caretakers also grow with social phobia.
Brain Structure - People with an overactive amygdala, the brain structure related to fear response, develop an increased fear response.
Not all people with social anxiety disorder tend to experience phobia with all the below-listed scenarios while encountering them. It depends. The kind of social situation that triggers the phobia differs in each individual. They are,
Social phobia is more common among teenagers. While some overcome and get rid of this as they grow, some find it challenging to come out of this disorder carrying it to their adulthood. Social anxiety disorder can also occur in children. They exhibit their social phobia in the following ways:
In order to calm themselves before any social event or activity, individuals with social anxiety disorder tend to drink alcohol, believing that it might help cope with their symptoms of social phobia, gradually paving the way for alcohol addictions. In the long run, they also engage in substance abuse.
Both pharmacological and non-pharmacological management methods are available. The treating physician will decide whether any one or combination of both methods of management is necessary.
Avoid depending on alcohol and other illegal drugs to soothe yourself temporarily. These do not offer a permanent solution for your problems. Instead, they worsen your condition additionally causing alcohol and drug abuse.
If you yourself have symptoms of social anxiety disorder or know anyone fighting with it, just learn and convey the same that these disorders are treatable with a combination of the above management strategies. Persistent or worsening social phobia is more than just shyness and nervousness. Reach out to a psychiatrist or psychologist for help.
Last reviewed at:
12 Mar 2022 - 5 min read
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