One of the most detrimental effects of anxiety is its ability to isolate you; triggering feelings that make you feel fearful and unworthy of the company.
People with social anxiety might notice their anxiety increase during social interactions, even during times that are enjoyable and positive. Worse still, feeling immobilized and powerless against their feelings, they suffer in silence and avoid situations that bring them in contact with people.
Social anxiety (or social phobia as it is sometimes called) is more than being awkward or shy. It is a type of complex phobia that can impair an individual’s confidence, mental stability, lifestyle, emotional wellbeing, and relationships, to say the least.
When does Social anxiety start?
Social anxiety disorder normally begins in childhood years or teenage years. Among individuals who look for treatment as grownups, the typical age of start remains in the very early to mid-teens with most individuals having developed the problem prior to they reach their 20s.
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However, there is a little subgroup of people who develop the problem in later life. Some individuals can determine a particular time when their social anxiousness problem started and also might link it with a specific event (for instance, relocating to a new school or being bullied or teased).
Others may describe themselves as having always been shy and seeing their social anxiety condition as a progressive, yet significant, worsening of their worry when approaching or being approached by other people (1).
Some might never ever have the ability to remember a time when they were devoid of social stress and anxiety.
The symptoms might be subtle but can be picked out over time and by observation. People with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) generally experience heightened emotional distress in the presence of people, irrespective of whether they are strangers or loved ones.
They can become particularly anxious and stressed out while;
- Being introduced to other people
- Being engaged in conversation, are criticized or judged
- Driving communication
- Being evaluated
- Meeting people of rank
- Meeting strangers
- Engaging in romantic relationships
This list is certainly not the entire list, but it does touch the most common and obvious ones. If you find yourself reserved and anxious in social gatherings ( speaking in front of a group, interacting with new people, engaging conversation, eating in public) and if you find that your anxiety levels increase at the mere thought and in anticipation of these situations, then you may be dealing with social anxiety.
Fortunately, despite being complex, social anxiety is a surmountable disorder. By making lifestyle changes, you can, in time, learn of ways to manage your anxiety.
You can also learn ways to approach social events with confidence while allowing any perceived flaws to go by without prejudice or judgment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and its role on SAD
Cognitive-behavioral therapists (CBT) are now in a position where they can offer a drug-free approach to dealing with these issues. There is now enough evidence that CBT is a reliable and effective remedy for dealing with problems of anxiety and mental health.
The therapy allows you to address your fears and take a microscopic view of your reactions towards it. It focuses on addressing the root of the problem with no filters.
Not only does it allow you to get to the source of your anxiety, but it also helps you to keep it away. Here are some ways to overcome social anxiety:
- Gradually approach social situations that challenge your anxiety and practice staying in these surroundings for as long as you can. This will allow you to realize that your fears are a result of your mind going into overdrive and nothing else. Once you stay in these situations and realize nothing bad can come out of it, your anxiety will gradually settle.
- Practice doing the things that can challenge your anxiety. Once you realize that isn’t going to turn out all that bad, make efforts to repeatedly put yourself in these situations. With time and practice, you’ll begin to overcome your fears and will be able to work from a calmer space.
- Pause and reflect on your journey now and then. Pause and reward yourself for the wonderful progress you’ve made.
- Anxious people tend to be their biggest critics. They also tend to analyze the before and after of every situation, adding to their anxiety. Replace these traits with self-assuring habits such as rewarding and congratulating. The more you talk to yourself and tell yourself that you are doing well, the more comfortable in your skin you are likely to become.
- Practice socializing. Reach out to your loved ones. Let them know about your concerns and lean on them for support. Socializing has had a direct link to lower rates of anxiety and depression and can do you a world of good.