We all feel uncomfortable and nervous in certain social situations because walking into a room full of strangers and speaking publically isn’t thrilling and exciting for everyone. Some people can get through this experience, and others experience a panic attack and have sweaty palms. Today, we’ll discuss what is social anxiety disorder; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social phobia and social anxiety disorder is a type of condition that causes extreme fearful feelings in the social environment. People experiencing this type of condition would have difficulty attending public events, social gatherings, meeting new people, and talking to strangers and new people. They fear that others would scrutinize and judge them. They’re aware of the fact that their fear is not reasonable and rational, but it makes them feel like they don’t have the power to face or overcome them.
Some people misinterpret shyness for social anxiety, and they both are completely different. Shyness is temporary and of short term and it won’t disturb your life. On the other hand, social anxiety disorder is debilitating and persistent, and it would disturb your life in the following ways;
- Can’t establish friendships and close relationships with anyone outside of your family network
- Not attending the school
- And not going to work
According to a report by ADAA (anxiety and depression association of America), roundabout 15 million adult people are experiencing SAD (social anxiety disorder). They start exhibiting the symptoms by the age of 13.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
Some of the main physical symptoms of SAD are as follows;
- Fast heartbeat
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Trouble speaking
- Sweating excessively
- Shaking and trembling
- Nausea feelings
Some of the main psychological symptoms are as follows;
- Anxious feelings make you miss work and school
- Want alcohol and numbing drugs to face the social situation
- Feeling concerned that other people would observe your stress and nervousness
- Over-thinking that you would embarrass yourself in public
- Avoiding any type of social gathering, and if you have to attend the event, then you would blend in the background
- Feeling worried for weeks-long before the social gathering
- Intense worrisome feelings about the social gathering
We all feel anxious in some situations now and then, and it’s completely normal. It becomes a social phobia when you consistently fear being humiliated and judged by others. You would start avoiding all types of public situations and activities like;
- Publically eating
- Talking over the phone
- Not using the public restroom
- Job interviews
- Avoid asking questions
It’s possible that the abovementioned symptoms won’t exhibit in all types of situations, and it means that you’re experiencing selective and limited anxiousness. The symptoms of social phobia would only happen when you have to eat or talk before strangers. However, if your case is extreme, then symptoms would exhibit in all types of social settings.
Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder
Psychologists don’t know the exact causes of social phobia. However, many research studies have shown that various combinations of genetic and environmental factors cause it. Some of the negative experiences that would add up to the development of social phobia are as follows;
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Conflicts in the family
Physical abnormalities like an imbalance in the serotonin level would cause the development of this condition. Serotonin is a type of chemical in your brain that would help you to manage your mood. However, the structure of your brain is an overactive amygdala and it manages your anxious feelings and fearful response, and it would also cause this disorder.
As some of you are aware that anxiety disorder runs in the family, but researchers don’t know whether it’s genetic or not. For instance, a child would develop this condition by learning from their parents’ behavior that is exhibiting its symptoms. Kids would develop a social phobia if parents are raising them in an overprotective and controlled environment.
Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social phobia doesn’t need any type of medical test. Your doctor would diagnose the condition by analyzing the symptoms and the behavior that you tell him/her. Your therapist would ask you for the details of your symptoms in your appointment. However, some of the questions that your therapist would ask are as follows;
- The anxiousness that is disturbing your daily life
- Realizing the fact that your fearful feelings are not reasonable
- Panic and anxious feelings long before the social event or public gathering
- Fearful feelings of embarrassment and humiliation from the public situation persistently
Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder
There are various types of treatment methods for social phobia, and they vary from person to person. Some people require only one form of treatment and others need various in combination. However, your doctor would recommend the best treatment plan for you after diagnosing the symptoms. Some of the main types of treatment plans for social phobia are as follows;
Group therapy allows you to learn social skills in order to talk with other people in the social environment. The group comprises all of those participants that have the social phobia condition, and such type of group doesn’t make you feel alone. It would offer you an opportunity to do role-playing and practice social skills.
It is such a therapy that exposes the person to various social situations in gradual steps, rather than avoiding public events.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
It’s a form of therapeutic treatment that teaches a person to manage anxiety through breathing and relaxing their mind. It also helps you to change your negative thoughts with positive ones.
Conclusion: What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
After an in-depth study of what is social anxiety disorder; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; we have realized that social phobia secludes you from society. If you and any of your acquaintances have this condition, then you should consult the therapist to work on your treatment plan.
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