Social Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Introduction

We all have faced the situation of nervousness or being uncomfortable in a social setting. Maybe you got nervous once when meeting a stranger or got your palms sweaty before speaking on a presentation. Public speaking or walking into a room full of strangers isn’t very comfortable for everyone. If you’ve got social anxiety though, sometimes it can get too much to handle.

You might avoid all social contact that people take into account “normal” — like creating chin-wagging and eye contact – because they make you so uncomfortable. All aspects of your life, not simply the social, may begin to crumble.

If you have been feeling this way for at least six months or more and these feelings make it hard for you to do everyday tasks—such as talking to people at work or at a party—you may have a social anxiety disorder.

A Guide for Social Anxiety Disorder

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What exactly is a social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition. It is an intense and persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, college, and your other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep relationships and friends. But social anxiety disorder cannot stop you from reaching your potential. Social anxiety is one very common mental disorder, thus even if you’ve got it, it can be treated.

Causes of Social Anxiety

There’s no one single thing that causes social anxiety disorder. Maybe Genetics has something to do with it. If you have a family member with social phobia, you may be having it, too. It could also be linked to having an over-reactive amygdala — the part of the brain that controls your fear response.

Social anxiety disorder usually starts at around 13 years of age. It can be linked to a history of abuse, bullying, or teasing on the victim. Shy kids are more likely to become socially anxious adults, as are children with overbearing or controlling parents. If there is a health condition that draws attention to your appearance or voice, that could trigger social anxiety too.  Underdeveloped social skills can be another possible contributor to social anxiety. Social Anxiety is an intricate combination of fear and anxiety responses in the Brain.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety [3]

  • Blushing, Sweating or Trembling in the presence of other people
  • Start feeling a rapid heart rate, or feel their “mind going blank”
  • Feeling nauseous or sick in the stomach
  • Going into a rigid body posture
  • Making little eye contact or speaking with a distinctly soft voice
  • Finding it difficult to be with other people, especially strangers
  • Facing difficulty in talking to new people even though you wish to communicate with them
  • Self-consciousness in front of other people at work or college
  • Feeling embarrassed and awkward at a social gathering
  • A persistent fear of being judged by others
  • Preferring to stay away from places where there are other people

Social Anxiety Disorder Test: [4]

You may have social anxiety disorder if

  • You feel anxious or panicky in a social situation
  • You fear that you will be negatively evaluated by others in a social situation
  • You generally avoid social situations because of fear or anxiety
  • You imagine that others are judging you as anxious, weak, crazy, stupid, boring, intimidating, dirty, or unlikeable when you are in a group setting
  • You are extremely conscious of your actions in a social setting because you fear they might offend someone or you could be rejected
  • Your work life, home life, social life, and/or relationships have been affected by your anxiety

Treatment for Social Anxiety: [5]

We can treat Social Anxiety through 2 ways:

Self-Help Treatment (or mostly Prevention)

  • Get help as early as possible:Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
  • Keeping and maintaining a journal:Keeping track of your personal life can help you identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
  • Prioritizing the issues in your life:You can reduce your anxiety by carefully managing your time and energy. Make sure that you do spend time doing things you enjoy.
  • Avoid substance abuse:Alcohol, drugs, caffeine and nicotine can cause or worsen anxiety. If you are addicted to any of these substances, quitting them can make you anxious. If you can’t quit on your own, see a doctor or find a treatment program or support group to help you.

Treatments for Social Anxiety[6]

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A CBT program is designed with a therapist to help identify negative thought patterns and behaviors, and change them
  • Guided Self-Help Programs: This process involves working through a CBT-based workbook or online course with regular support from a therapist
  • Antidepressant Medication: Use this as last resort.

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults[7]and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia. The average onset age for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. One should remember that social anxiety is not to be confused with shyness. Both are different. But for social anxiety disorder, even though it is treatable, can cause havoc if not diagnosed at the right time. People can decline job offers that require them to interact or avoid going out with friends. Such symptoms can completely disrupt the daily life and make it difficult to complete school, interview and get a job, and have friendships and romantic relationships. Eventually, such people are also at an increased risk for developing major depressive and alcohol use disorders.

So, it is imperative that such symptoms be identified soon and the disorder is treated as early as possible.

References

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/default.htm

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/default.htm

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