Have you ever come across a person who has social phobia?
An individual who has social phobia is the one who develops a level of anxiety and fear that seems to be beyond their control. Well, the condition where a person develops fear or anxiety in social situations is called social anxiety disorder.
The disorder is very common with statistics showing that at least 1 out of 10 adults suffers from it. Do not in any way confuse social anxiety disorder with shyness.
Almost all social anxiety disorder victims show some level of shyness, but not all shy individuals suffer from SAD. Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that greatly affects the victim’s life.
Most victims of the disorder confess to lacking control over the situation. It is an intense and persistent fear that develops when one is in a social setting, especially when meeting new people.
What is it Like to Suffer From Social Anxiety Disorder?
Well, perhaps you could be wondering how you can tell when suffering from the disorder. People who suffer from this disorder do develop a certain fear or anxiety when exposed to a social setting or when informed that they are about to go public, meet new people or even make a speech.
In most cases, such individuals stay away from public places and will find any means possible when confronted with a situation that requires them to appear in public places. They have a problem coping with social situations.
Due to lack of knowledge, some victims have resorted to alcohol to cure or ease the anxiety. However, alcohol does not solve the problem; it may only help ease the symptoms for a short while.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder tend to be afraid of other people. They always think or act as if they will be judged, humiliated or rejected.
This significantly affects their behavior in social situations such as a job interview, relationships, talking to new people or even answering questions.
When confronted with situations that raise anxiety or fear, they are likely to show the following symptoms:
- Showing a rigid body posture with very little eye contact
- Experiencing a fast heart rate
- Thumping Heart – Palpitations
- A “Knot” in the stomach
- Frequent blushing
- A serious desire to be alone or get away from the current situation
- Chest pain
Depending on the severity of the disorder, some victim’s social life can be greatly affected. Research shows that people who do not seek treatment and live with the situation suffer from depression at a stage in their life.
Most of them do not explore their potential to the full. It is unfortunate that social anxiety disorder may prevent one from getting or improving his or her job, make friends or even lead to isolation.
What Exactly Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?
It is not clear what exactly causes social anxiety disorder. This is because of several parts of the brain control fear and anxiety. However, scientists have established some facts about possible causes of the disorder.
The overactive amygdale is one brain structure that substantially regulates feelings of anxiety and fear responsibilities. One thing that scientists have discovered is that social anxiety disorder runs in families. Other factors that are known to contribute to the disorder include underdeveloped social skills, a misreading of other people’s behaviors and other environment-related factors.
Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder
It is highly advisable to seek the help of a mental health specialist when you feel you could be suffering from SAD. Social anxiety disorder is treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Alternatively, you can speak to your doctor who can refer you to a counselor, psychologist or a psychiatrist. The following methods are used to treat social anxiety disorder:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It involves some psychotherapeutic techniques that treat social anxiety disorder. Victims are taught different ways of behaving, thinking and reacting to social situations that increase their fear and anxiety. You and the CBT experts interact to identify disturbing beliefs and behavioral patterns.
Additionally, learners are also taught various social skills that enable them to feel less anxious.
People who have been in the same situation with you are in a better position of understanding your feelings. This also applies to people who suffer from social anxiety disorder.
There are social groups where everyone is free to share their story without feeling rejected or judged. You can learn from your fellows on how they feel and react to given social situations. This helps a lot in overcoming excessive anxiety and fear in social places.
This is another alternative to psychological therapy. It involves CBT-based programs that help people learn various ways of overcoming anxiety and fear. Leaflets, DVDs, MP3, and books are used to help social anxiety disorder victims’ combat anxiety.
Three Common Medications are Used to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder:
Antidepressants – These medications help treat depression. Antidepressants are not addictive but may cause potential side effects. Unlike other medicines, they take time (two to four weeks) before their effects build up.
They also do not cause any addictions. Most antidepressant users are misguided when they stop using their prescribed medicines after using them for a short while. They throw them away because they feel the medication isn’t working.
However, antidepressants do help a lot only that they take time before they start working. The most commonly used antidepressants are the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). Examples include sertraline and escitalopram.
Anti-anxiety – These are short-term medications that reduce anxiety levels. You should talk to your doctor for guidance on proper dosage. Anti-anxiety, unlike antidepressants, starts working right away. Long-term use may lead to dependency. Some people also develop tolerance to these medications.
Beta-blockers – They block physical symptoms of anxiety such as tremors, sweating, and increased heart rate. Beta-blockers can significantly help social anxiety disorder victims that develop short-lived symptoms. They help people relax and ease their fear. If for instance, one plans to deliver a speech, a beta-blocker prescription will help reduce the shakes.
In certain cases, doctors or mental specialists may find it appropriate to combine one or more treatments depending on the severity of the disorder.