Do you get goose-bumps in your stomach when your boss tells you to prepare the brief for the next client meeting? Do you get wet feet when your teacher asks you to deliver a speech in front of a group of students at your school’s annual day function? Hate attending social gatherings for no apparent reason? If so, you are not alone. You may be suffering from social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, as do thousands of others all around the world.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition where those who are suffering have an unreasonable and excessive fear of social gatherings or situations where they feel that they may be embarrassed or ridiculed for no apparent reason at all.
This fear is frequently caused by feelings of being closely observed or scrutinised, from the way they dress, talk, or act in important job functions such as giving a presentation to a team of colleagues, or making a client presentation or interviewing for a job. This phobia can make people feel trapped and cut off from the rest of the world, besides causing mental anxiety without any logical reasons.
Social anxiety disorder is frequently contrasted and compared to shyness, with particular reference to teenagers as a part of their personality. On the contrary, it significantly significantly in that it interferes with normal social functions at a higher level of the individual’s personality.
While everyone feels shy at some point in their lives, it becomes a problem when it interferes with daily life and relationships, particularly in situations where there are leadership qualities to be displayed, for e.g:- at school while delivering a speech in front of the class or at work while attending a client presentation. It it characterized by causing excessive worry and undue anxiety, thereby increasing the stress levels for no apparent reasons at all.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder is critical for early detection and treatment, rather than passing it off as mere shyness as an aspect of the personality. If left unattended, in the later stages of life it may lead to severe psychological disorders and affect mental health.
Individuals suffering from social phobia primarily exhibit two types of symptoms emotional and physical. For eg:- Fear of being judged, undue worrying about embarrassing or humiliating themselves in front of others, fear of being noticed as nervous and jittery while making a speech in front of a crowd of people, avoiding situations or people out of fear of embarrassment, and avoiding situations where they might be the centre of attention are all emotional symptoms of those suffering from SAD.
Blushing, sweating, trembling or shaking, feelings of nausea or sensations of vomiting, stomach upsets, difficulty in talking by stammering, shaky voice, muscle tension, confusion, palpitations and sweating profusely, biting nails, cold and clammy hands, and difficulty in making eye contact while speaking are all physical symptoms of social phobia or SAD.
Those suffering from social phobia have a strong belief that others are more confident and superior than they are, making them feel uneasy around others and therefore avoiding normal situations like eating and drinking in a group at a party or a get together.
The good news is that social anxiety disorder can be overcome. In the past two decades, a combination of dialogue therapy and medications has been demonstrated to be most effective in limiting the effects or even curing this mental condition.
Antidepressants such as Paroxetine, Sertraline, and Venlafaxine, as well as anti-anxiety medications and beta-blockers, are used to balance certain chemicals in the brain and reduce panic attacks during times of increased anxiety. However, these antidepressants should be taken under medical supervision only as they have certain side effects on mental health.
People with social anxiety disorder benefit more from talk therapy because it helps them react differently to anxiety-provoking situations. Therapists’ help patients confront negative feelings about social situations and their fear of being judged by others. Patients learn how their thought patterns contribute to their symptoms and how to change their thinking to alleviate symptoms through various techniques like NLP.
It’s in everyone’s nature to be to be shy, and everyone goes through that at some point of time or another. The challenging part is raising one’s confidence to a certain level. It is human nature to feel anxious about certain things that one has never experienced or is experiencing for the first time.
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Socializing and functioning normally within a group without excessive anxiety is possible with a little bit of therapy, proper medication, and enough support from people who believe in you.
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