What is Social Anxiety
What is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is a strong fear of being judged by others and
of being embarrassed. This fear can be so strong that it interferes with daily life, such as going to work or school.
According to the National Comorbidity Survey, a U.S. poll on mental health, social anxiety disorder is the third most prevalent psychiatric disorder in Americans, after depression and alcohol dependence.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH ) 6.8 percent of U.S. adults and 5.5 percent of 13 to 15 year-olds are annually afflicted by social anxiety.
Most people have felt embarrassed or anxious at times. For instance, when they have to give a speech or attend a meeting where they have to meet new people. However, people with social anxiety worry excessively about these social situations days or even weeks before they have to participate in them.
People with social anxiety are usually afraid of doing normal tasks in front of strangers such as signing a check, calling someone on the telephone, eating in front of other people, or using a public restroom.
People with social anxiety usually know that they shouldn’t be as afraid as they are, but they can’t help it. They may even avoid going to places and events that they really want to go to because they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them. (Check out our Top Picks for Quick Anxiety Relief.)
What Causes Social Anxiety?
No one knows for sure why some people have social anxiety and some people don’t. However, we do know that social anxiety sometimes runs in families.
Social anxiety usually begins in childhood and affects about 15 million American adults. Scientific research indicates that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. Scientists hope to be able to create better treatments for social anxiety by learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain.
Scientists are also conducting research to determine how stress and environmental factors play a role in social anxiety.
What Symptoms Do People With Social Anxiety Experience?
- They are very anxious around other people and find it difficult to join in conversation, even though they wish they could.
- They get embarrassed easily and are very self-conscious in front of other people.
- They feel that other people are judging them.
- They worry excessively for days or weeks before an event where they have to speak in public or have to meet new people.
- They avoid places where there are other people.
- They find it difficult to make and keep friends.
- They easily blush, sweat, or tremble around other people.
- They often feel nauseous or experience an upset stomach when they are with other people.
Social Anxiety Diagnosis
If a person started having social anxiety symptoms at a young age and has had social anxiety symptoms for at least 6 months, a doctor may be able to form a social anxiety disorder diagnosis. Without treatment, social anxiety can last for many years or a lifetime.
After a person discusses their symptoms with their doctor, the doctor should do an exam to rule out any other physical problems that might be causing the symptoms.
What are some Treatments for Social Anxiety?
The most common type of therapy used for social anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to fearful situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy also includes teaching hands on social skills, which are practiced during therapy.
Medication is often prescribed to help treat social anxiety. The most commonly prescribed medications for social anxiety are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. There are many different types of anti-anxiety medications. Some of these medications begin working right away, but should not be taken over a long period of time.
Some doctors, especially holistic doctors, may recommend natural supplements for anxiety as a treatment plan for anxiety. There are many natural supplements that can help relieve social anxiety symptoms. We recommend the following natural supplements:
If you’re considering taking any herbal supplement as a treatment for anxiety, talk to your doctor first, especially if you take other medications. The interaction of some herbal supplements and certain medications can cause serious side effects.
If your anxiety is interfering with daily activities, talk with your doctor. More serious forms of anxiety generally need medical treatment or psychological counseling for symptoms to improve.