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What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

For people with social anxiety disorders, everyday social interactions may be a source of significant stress. This is often caused by heightened self-consciousness, nervousness, and embarrassment one feels when stepping into social events. To avoid the intense stress and emotions associated with social interactions, one might choose to self-isolate, which tends to worsen one’s mental health issues. 

Social anxiety disorder can also become disruptive for those who try to socialize despite these conditions because one’s relationships are all influenced by this intensified stress. This does not mean that social anxiety disorder is not treatable. There are medications, behavioral therapies, and coping skills to help alleviate the difficulties.

What Are the Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

Everyone may experience shyness in social interactions, even those who usually consider themselves outgoing. This also has much to do with personality types, such as being an introvert or extrovert. Nervousness and discomfort in social situations are not necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder–the symptoms of social anxiety disorder are usually much more intense. Social anxiety disorder typically develops between the adolescent years and adulthood. 

People who have social anxiety disorder are fearful of being judged negatively in social interactions. The worry of humiliating oneself in public is a constant internal struggle. One might feel intense fear of talking with strangers or doing something new. Because of these worries and stress, people who live with social anxiety disorder tend to avoid being in social situations or have a dread for public activities. 

These psychological processes may also be externalized as physical signs, such as sweating, trembling, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, mental fog, muscle tension, or even fainting. Without any intervention or treatment, avoiding socialization and public events are common ways to cope with social anxiety disorder. 

For example, someone with such a disorder might fear talking with clients on a job, asking for directions, or attending a friend’s wedding because there will be too many strangers. Such anxieties may worry a person weeks before the event takes place. In this way, the symptoms get in the way of living a normal life. As a result of these fears, people might use some “liquid courage” or a drug that causes them to feel more relaxed before social events, which can often lead to addiction.

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

There are many causes and risk factors, both biological and environmental, that might cause social anxiety disorder. First, genetics play a huge role. Anxiety disorders can be inherited from earlier generations. Brain scans also reveal that people with social anxiety disorder experience hyperactivity in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” instinct. 

Apart from genetics and brain structure anomaly, a social anxiety disorder in teens or young adults can be influenced by too controlling or overprotective parents. Bullying and public humiliation can also induce social anxiety disorder. Overall, there is a wide range of complicated causes, from family medical history, parenting dysfunctions, traumatic events, personality traits, and intense social demands. In some instances, people can overcome social anxiety disorder, such as fear of public speaking. More often than not, social anxiety disorder may need to be diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional before it leads to more mental and behavioral health problems, including low self-esteem or substance abuse.

How Do You Prevent and Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

Early prevention and treatment are always ideal. However, not every teen or young adult is surrounded with the attention and support they need. If you or your loved one is struggling with social anxiety disorder, there are many options for diagnosis and treatment. A health care provider can perform a physical exam to assess whether these symptoms are caused by any medical condition. Your provider might prescribe medications that treat persistent symptoms of social anxiety disorder, such as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. They also use standard criteria to determine whether or not it is social anxiety disorder. 

For treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective types of therapy for social anxiety disorder. There are individual and group sessions to choose from. Working with a therapist, you or your loved one can work on facing their most feared situations. You might try skill training and role-play coaching to help gain comfort and confidence. The most important thing is to find a treatment plan that meets your needs and stick with it. Learning new relationship skills and overcoming fear may take a long time, but you will be pleased with the results.

Do social interactions and meeting new people bring you intense fear and stress? Are you extremely self-conscious or have a fear of being judged by others? Perhaps you might have a loved one who experiences these stressful symptoms and prefers to self-isolate. Social isolation is not healthy, and it’s important to seek other ways to deal with those feelings. If you have been feeling this way for a long time, you might have social anxiety disorder, and it’s time to seek professional help. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we are committed to a continuum of care, including diagnosing and treating social anxiety disorder. In our in-patient and out-patient programs, we offer proactive interventions and a holistic approach to recovery from anxiety disorders. We offer cognitive and behavioral therapies, family relationship programs, and 12-step groups. Do not delay or deal with social anxiety disorder on your own. You can get help and get better now! Call us at (866) 229-9923