What is Social Anxiety/Social Phobia?
The word "phobia" is used to describe a condition in which someone has an excessive or unreasonable fear reaction to a specific situation or thing. There are three types of phobias: agoraphobia (fear of places or situations from which escape may be difficult), specific phobia (fear of a specific object or situation, and social anxiety disorder (fear of social and/or performance situations).
Social anxiety disorder is the third most common psychiatric disorder in the United States. This means that 1 out of 8 Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder. The good news is that it is treatable. Many people recover and go on to live healthy, happy and productive lives without the fear which previously consumed their lives.
To the person with social anxiety disorder, going to a job interview can be torture. Going to get-togethers, parties, conferences, class, even the grocery store are threatening and scary. Few people have heard of their own problem, and rarely hear it discussed on any media. Therefore, they must keep quiet about it. They feel like they are "abnormal" or "weird" They may even feel that they are "crazy" or that they will end up "crazy.â€� No. You are not crazy, weird, or abnormal, and no, you will not go crazy. In fact almost everyone experiences some social anxiety now and then; it's normal. However, social anxiety disorder limit's the lifestyle of those with the illness.
What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder?
• An extreme fear of a situation in which you have to meet new people or you may be scrutinized by others
• The feared social situations are experienced with intense anxiety
• The individual may entirely avoid the social situation
• The anxiety-provoking social situation causes physical symptoms which may include: sweating, shaking, increased heart beat, increased blood pressure, headache, muscle tension, trembling or numbness, change in rate and tone of speech, dry mouth or blushing.
• Very anxious in the presence of others
• You may feel as if everyone is looking at you or judging you
• You may understand that your fears are illogical, but you continue to fear the social interaction
Will I ever feel comfortable in a social situation?
Yes. Most likely, with treatment, your social anxiety will decrease. You will able to do the things you want to do, and the things you enjoy with less anxiety. It is a gradual process, so be patient. What professionals believe works the best for treatment is a therapeutic model called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT often produces long-lasting, permanent relief from the anxiety which grips your life. To overcome social anxiety disorder, individual therapy and group therapy is recommended. Some individuals may respond most effectively to short-term therapy, while others may respond to long-term therapy. However, completion of a behavioral therapy model is essential to increase the likelihood that you will find relief from your symptoms.
Some individuals find relief through another type of therapy called, Social Skill Training. It is a component of "talkâ€� therapy. Meeting with a professional therapist, you discuss and rehears problematic social situations. Clients are shown how to make eye contact, greet people, talk louder, and ask questions, along with many other skills. Clients monitor themselves with thought records or other forms of writing things down. They practice their new skills with the therapist and then in real life. Hopefully, the practice the client has had in session will generalize to the client's personal social environment.
You will not need years and years of therapy. You can't be "counseled" out of social phobia. It is imperative that you seek some type of a behavioral program for your social anxiety. THER IS A BETTER LIFE FOR ALL PEOPLE WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER! However, without treatment your social anxiety will continue to encumber your lifestyle. Current research is clear that CBT is highly successful in the treatment of social anxiety disorder. You must be persistent and active in your therapy and stick with the methods, techniques and skills you acquire through therapy. If you are motivated, you will succeed, you will come out healthier and happier on the other side. Your situation is very hopeful.
Where do I go to find out more about social anxiety disorder?
There are several recommended readings and resources which may help you in your recovery from social anxiety disorder.
Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association
The Social Anxiety Network
What are social phobias?
Social Anxiety Disorder Help
What are Anxiety and Panic Attacks?