Social anxiety disorder, also known as “social phobia,” is characterized by a strong fear of being judged, to the point of avoiding interactions with others.
Certain social settings, such as a romantic first date or a professional interview, promote stress and anxiety in most people. The greater the stake, the more nervousness manifests itself. In the person who experiences social anxiety, this anxiety extends to social events that are appreciated by others. The socially anxious person has to be alone to feel comfortable.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
The physical signs
Here are some physical signs of social anxiety disorder: a fast heartbeat, redness on the face and neck, excessive sweating, a dry throat and mouth, shaking hands, a quavering voice, difficulty swallowing, and contractions of the muscles in the face or neck.
The cruel irony is that social phobia feeds on itself: the more anxious we feel, the greater the physical manifestations, the more we will be afraid to attract attention, and the more anxious we will be.
The most common triggers
- Interact with people in positions of authority
- Get in touch with strangers
- To meet new people
- Being teased or criticized
- Be the center of attention at school or at work
- Being observed when performing a task
- Start a new relationship, either friendly or romantic
Recognizing that your fears are irrational is a step in the right direction. However, just knowing it and wishing you didn’t feel them is not enough to eliminate this entrenched phobia.
This disorder does not vanishes without a lot of courage: living with social anxiety requires facing your fears every day.
Once the problem has been recognized, a proven solution is available to you.
Psychotherapy, especially the cognitive-behavioral approach, has been proven to work with many people in bringing about positive changes and, in most cases, eliminating symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches new ways of thinking in order to change entrenched negative ideas that are associated with social interactions. Even though your social anxiety is so familiar to you that it seems like a fundamental part of who you are, the way you think about it can change.
Indeed, the flexibility of our brains is surprising. Irrational thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can be altered through psychotherapy.
Finding the right psychotherapist for you
Find a psychotherapist with experience in dealing with social anxiety. Do not hesitate to ask questions on the subject and to ask what can be expected from the process. Any good psychotherapist will agree to enlighten you. Any question is relevant, whether it is the causes of social anxiety or medications for social anxiety disorder.
Your psychotherapist will understand the seriousness of your fears and will be interested in the impact they have on your life. He will listen to you, not minimize your experience, or ask you to do things that are beyond your reach.
Once the right psychotherapist is found, organize the necessary to ensure your success. Gather support and encouragement from your loved ones. As much as possible, plan for a stress-free daily environment during your psychotherapy process. You will be challenged with new ideas and new concepts. If you can, take breaks away from negative people and surroundings. Create a time slot to adopt new habits.
How will you succeed in this task
There are many who have overcome their social phobia.
Therapeutic work is not easy, but once it starts, it will seem more bearable than your previous level of anxiety.
Start as soon as possible working with a qualified and experienced psychotherapist in the field
Make a commitment to consider and try the suggested exercises, even if they are demanding. If you have any reservations, discuss them with your psychotherapist.
Practice the exercises even if they seem repetitive so that the strategies become habits.
Celebrate the small victories. Remember that you will achieve your goals one step at a time to the finish line. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Good luck, you can do this!