It is estimated that approximately 13% of the population suffers from social phobia or social anxiety disorder. This mental health disorder occurs more frequently in women, but men too can experience this intense anxiety and/or fear that presents itself when the person thinks about or anticipates an upcoming event.
Those that suffer from social anxiety disorder often deal with their symptoms by isolating themselves even further. This leads to a seemingly endless round of efforts to face the fear of social situations then failing in that endeavor leading to negative self-talk and the continuation of the problem at hand. A compassionate Raleigh based psychiatrist explains how to recognize and effectively treat social anxiety disorder to finally overcome a client’s deepest fears.
What Is the Meaning of Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia
Social anxiety disorder, otherwise known as phobia, is a chronic mental health condition that results in severe emotional distress, fear, embarrassment, and other symptoms due to some type of interaction. This is termed a social phobia if those fears and anxieties are deemed irrational.
Typically, the person will feel extreme humiliation when thinking about or engaging in social interactions with others. Most sufferers will have a deep fear of being humiliated or otherwise embarrassed when in a public situation where they fear judgment or criticism by others.
How to Recognize Social Anxiety Disorder
It is not uncommon for those that suffer from social anxiety disorder to also have other untreated mental health issues that coexist. It should be noted that social phobia is not the same as agoraphobia where a person avoids certain situations that they fear may cause them to suffer a severe panic attack.
Social anxiety disorder almost always involves deep feelings of shame, blame, guilt and other negative self-beliefs along with low self-esteem and lack of confidence when in a social setting.
Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
A person who has a social anxiety disorder will often look awkward and uncomfortable in a public setting. Additionally, the person may appear extremely shy and will tend to avoid the spotlight or even speaking. When pressured, the person may begin to tremble or stutter.
Common symptoms of this include:
- Blushing or Blotchy Skin
- Visible Trembling or Shaking
- Rapid or Mumbling Speech – May Stutter
- May Exhibit Unusual Behaviors in Public
- Furthermore, Stomach Upset, Nausea & Vomiting in Severe Cases
- Lack of Mental Focus
- Jittery or Feeling Anxious or Fearful
- Dry Mouth
- Rapid Heart-Rate and/or Skipped Beats
- May Feel Judged or Watched by Others
- Avoidance of Meeting New People
- Feels Self-Conscious & Awkward in Social Settings
- Dizziness or Actual Fainting
- Shaky Voice
What Causes Social Phobia?
The causes of social phobia or social anxiety disorder may be genetic or hereditary. Also, there are some environmental factors and experiences that resulted in severe embarrassment, humiliation, or other negative self-image defining events somewhere in the sufferer’s past most often in their younger childhood years.
Examples of environmental trigger factors for social phobia include:
- Growing up with overly protected or too critical parents or significant authority figure
- Also, Social anxieties with the opposite sex may stem from insecure attachments with their mother in infancy or father at some critical point
- Growing up in a household that embraces phobic behavior
- Also, serious humiliation or embarrassing public/social event
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Certain cultures may contribute to this disorder development
Effective Treatments for Social Phobia & Social Anxiety Disorder
Fortunately, there are some effective treatments for a social phobia that can help people move on from this fear-based response to interacting with others in a social situation. Furthermore, there will be a combination therapeutic approach that may include medication and psychological therapies that may include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, commitment, and acceptance-based therapies among other treatments.
Other promising treatments include stress reduction measures and role-play therapy where the client acts out social interaction in a safe clinical setting. Gradually, the client may move to group therapy or other settings to develop positive strategies. Also, coping skills when presented with anxiety-provoking social situations.
Some therapeutic measures include:
- Role-Play Social Scenarios
- Develop Coping Skills
- Practice Social Skills
- Avoidance of Alcohol or Drug Abuse
- Also, Increasing Self-Esteem
- Decrease Shame, Blame, Guilt etc.
- Learning Friendship Skills
Lastly, learn more about recognizing anxiety and effective treatments for social phobia by contacting MedPsych Integrated in Raleigh, NC.