Social anxiety or social phobia is an irrational fear of social settings such as gatherings, parties, classrooms, or working together in a group. It is a fear of being judged or scrutinized by others.
Social anxiety generally starts at a very early age. Often times it has something to do with parents that are over protective and either control their children's social settings or have their children avoid them altogether. Social anxiety can likewise be caused by having negative experiences in social settings, such as being bullied or ridiculed by peers. Again, this usually starts at an early age. Children that are constantly picked on or find themselves in the lower part of the 'social ladder' among their peers, can develop social anxiety.
People suffering from social anxiety are particularly vulnerable to alcohol or drug abuse. Often-times people will use drugs or alcohol to try and fit in or relax in social settings. They may also become addicted to anti-depressants or anxiety medication because they're convinced that they cannot function in a social setting without their medication.
More Anxiety Info!
People suffering from social anxiety become very anxious and self-conscious in normal everyday social settings, sometimes even experiencing panic attacks. They experience very intense, persistent chronic fear of being judged or scrutinized by others. Future planned events are extremely difficult for those suffering from social anxiety. They begin worrying about it long before the time of the social event or activity. As the date gets closer, the anxiety can worsen and begin to adversely affect a person's life at school or work. It can make it extremely difficult for a person to make and keep friends.
Social anxiety can be restricted to the one situation such as going to parties, talking with people or talking in front of people, eating or drinking in front of people. Or, it may be generalized social anxiety where a person experiences anxiety in any form of social setting.
Social anxiety disorder can be extremely debilitating-it may even hamper people from going to work or school on days. Numerous people with social anxiety have a hard time making and keeping friends.
Very generally known indeed! In fact, it is my understanding that most anxiety and panic sufferers demonstrate symptoms of social anxiety disorder too. Social anxiety disorder is more generally known in young people as they grow and enter adult life.There is also a strong comparison between social anxiety and agoraphobia and sufferers get the notion that the action of avoiding social situations creates an agoraphobic reaction to those locations.
Social anxiety disorder can disturb anyone of any age or gender. It is predicted that around seven million Americans have social anxiety disorder and this figure is echoed around the planet.
Go see your doctor! We love to self-diagnose and we may even know exactly what's the matter with ourselves. However, you don't enjoy access to the right types of medications and you're not as qualified as your doctor. Your doctor may be able to provide advice or treatment that you haven't thought of.
Anxiety can take a lot out of you, both emotionally and physically. When your anxiety threatens to get the better of you it is time to see your doctor. It may be that medication will help alleviate your anxiety symptoms and improve your quality of life. While no one wants to be drug dependent, taking medication on the guidance and control of your doctor is safe. But, by all means, discuss any concerns you have about becoming dependent with your doctor as well.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you understand the thoughts you're having that cause your anxiety. It also helps you change those thoughts, interrupting the negative thought patterns. It will also help you recognize and replace panic causing thoughts.
Clearly, the path to controlling anxiety must involve changing these internal negative thought loops and beliefs. However, most people find this extremely hard to do. They know at a conceptual level that the worry is irrational and not helpful and is causing them to become ill. However, no amount of self-talk seems to modify the anxiety. This is since there is another component that is actually much larger than the content of the negative thoughts and beliefs: Emotional Feeling Energy. This is what gives meaning and authority to our thoughts, and in anxiety formations, large concentrations of emotional energy become attached to the expression or beliefs. With this understanding, we see only if we can figure out a way to release this trapped energy, then the thoughts and beliefs will lose their power and compulsive domination of our thought and will tend to be replaced by more appropriate thoughts. The negative thought may still arise out of habit, but without the emotional investment, it has nowhere to go and in time it will fade away.
Focusing on releasing the trapped, frozen emotional energy that has become attached to habitual thinking is one of the main focuses of Mindfulness Therapy. First we train ourselves to identify these negative thought reactions. This is most important, because we cannot change what we cannot see. Therefore, we must make our reactions visible by paying very much attention to catch them as and when they arise. But after mastering this, we shift our attention from the content or story that constitutes the cognitive architecture of the anxiety reaction to the emotional feeling quality that gives it power. This is called 'sitting with the emotion. ' We learn to sit with our anxiety, without getting caught up in further reactivity and thinking, or in an attempt to attack the negative thoughts. We are, in fact, learning to focus our attention towards the reaction, and this changes everything.
Desensitization or exposure therapy can be used in order to treat social anxiety. You are taught to relax your entire body and then imagine yourself in the setting that causes your anxiety. The exposure can be ramped up by showing photos or listening to recordings of the setting that causes anxiety. As you work through each and every one of these stages you learn to relax while being exposed in a safe environment. The last step is exposing yourself to the situation in small doses until eventually you no longer feel anxious.
Social skill training can be employed in a group setting with others that also experience social anxiety. The group can role-play various settings or situations, this allows you to be more comfortable dealing with people in the true situation. Taking measures to improve your self-esteem and getting training in social skills can be quite helpful.
Remember, you're in charge of you. Exercising, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, taking your medication as prescribed and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine can all help in your battle with social anxiety.