At times, we all feel scared, nervous, or anxious. This is completely natural. However, for some people, feelings of anxiety and stress can take over their lives. When symptoms of stress and anxiety become this consuming, an individual may be diagnosed with having social anxiety disorder, which affects one out of three adolescents and millions of people all over the world.
Since we all feel anxiety at times, it can be challenging to identify social anxiety symptoms and know if one really is experiencing this mental health condition. To better understand this issue, we’re taking a closer look at social anxiety, especially its symptoms, to help individuals understand this common mental health condition.
WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY?
According to the Mayo Clinic, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a chronic mental health condition that transforms everyday interactions into stress-inducing and fearful experiences. Social anxiety disorder can disrupt your daily life and cause individuals to withdraw from their friends, family, work, and social interactions. Social anxiety disorder can even cause physical symptoms, such as trembling, an upset stomach, sweating, or muscle tension.
SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY
Social anxiety is a very individualized mental health condition, which means that everyone experiences it very differently. Thus, people may undergo only certain symptoms, making this condition often difficult to identify. However, there are some common symptoms for those with social anxiety disorder. Here are some of the most common:
1. Fear of judgment.
Many with social anxiety disorder constantly feel like they’re in a state of judgment. They may over-analyze every word and interaction while feeling like they aren’t measuring up. This constant of judgment can lead to isolation and depression.
2. Fear of embarrassment.
Constant embarrassment is one of the most common symptoms of social anxiety disorder. While others may be able to shake off an awkward or embarrassing moment, those with SAD will fear these moments to the extent that they’ll soon begin avoiding social interactions altogether to stave off embarrassment.
3. Worrying over social events.
The anticipation of social events, even small gatherings or one-on-one meetings, can turn into dread for those with social anxiety disorder.
4. Avoiding public places and gatherings.
Crowded and busy places are especially triggering for those with social anxiety disorder. In these unpredictable spaces, often filled with social interactions, it can be easier to simply avoid them together instead of dealing with the stress.
5. Feeling extremely self-conscious around others.
For those with social anxiety disorder, it often feels like the world’s eyes are always gazing directly at you. This sense can make individuals feel extremely self-conscious and even paranoid about what they say and how they act.
6. Difficulty with making or maintaining social relationships.
For those with social anxiety disorder, even the smallest of social interactions can become a nightmare. This makes it, of course, incredibly difficult to make new relationships or maintain old ones. This isolation can then spur more regret and depression, turning into a vicious cycle. It often feels like there is no way out when social interactions become this much of a challenge.
7. Expecting the worst possible consequences.
Those with social anxiety disorder often allow their imaginations to run wild. While this is true for most of us, these individuals usually end up in the worst possible scenario. Instead of being excited or hopeful for a future event, they generally can depict the bad or negative possible consequences.
TREATMENT FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY
Depending on the severity of your social anxiety symptoms, a certain treatment plan, or a combination, may be effective in helping you manage and live with this condition. Here are the most common treatments for social anxiety disorder:
Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is a common method of treatment for individuals with a wide range of mental illnesses. These sessions can occur one-on-one with a therapist or in a group or family setting. At its core, psychotherapy is a form of healing that arises from discussion based on identifying problematic behaviors, responses, and developing healthier habits.
2. Exposure therapy.
This form of therapy is based on the idea that facing our fears can help us overcome them. Exposure therapy is commonly used for a variety of phobias and can be useful for those experiencing social anxiety. With this approach, individuals are gradually exposed to their fears in a safe and controlled environment. For those with SAD, this could mean interacting in public places, making a public speech, or meeting new people.
If social anxiety disorder is having a major impact on the day-to-day functioning of an individual, medication may be an effective treatment option. In many cases, medication is prescribed in tandem with some form of therapy.
Drugs used to treat social anxiety disorder include antidepressants that fall under the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRI (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) categories. Common prescriptions include medications like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Cymbalta, and Effexor. Once prescribed, these drugs generally take several weeks for the patient to begin feeling any improvements.
WHAT DO I DO IF I’M EXPERIENCING SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER?
If you believe you may have social anxiety disorder, you should first speak with a doctor or medical professional. They can help to identify and diagnose your condition. Then, if needed, they can set you on the path toward a treatment plan that will best address your specific symptoms and needs.
CONCLUSION – WHAT ARE SOCIAL ANXIETY SYMPTOMS?
Social anxiety, especially anxiety in teens, is common throughout the world. While everyone feels distressed, nervous, or anxious at times, some individuals live with levels of anxiety that make daily activities and interactions nearly impossible. You shouldn’t feel ashamed if you believe you’re experiencing social anxiety disorder.
Millions of people all over the world experience this condition, and for most, there are effective treatment options available. The worst thing you could do is to suffer in silence and refuse help. If social anxiety is getting in the way of your life, don’t wait another minute longer and reach out to someone who can help.