What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is when every day interactions cause anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment; mostly because you fear being criticized or judged by others. It is not just being shy or uncomfortable in a social situation and goes much deeper than that. It is normal to have a range of comfort levels in social situations. It becomes social anxiety when fear of social situations keeps you from interacting and attending social activities. This anxiety can be caused by fear of being judged, worrying about being embarrassed, fear of offending someone, or even the fear that someone will notice that you are anxious. It can be especially intense with strangers. Unfortunately, the anxiety does not only exist when in the social situation, but in anticipation of the situations as well, leading to avoidance of doing things, speaking to people, and especially of being the center of attention. It doesn’t end there either. The anxiety continues after the social situation where a person analyzes their actions during the interactions to find flaws or possible negative consequences. On top of the psychological symptoms of social anxiety, it can also manifest in physical symptoms such as: increased heart rate, digestive issues, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, an “out of body” feeling, or muscle tension and aches. In children these feelings can often be exhibited through crying, temper tantrums, clinging to parents or a person of comfort, and refusing to speak when in social situations.
How Does Counseling Help Social Anxiety?
It becomes important to seek help for social anxiety when you fear and avoid normal social situations. This anxiety can quickly become life disrupting and is difficult to deal with without the appropriate help. Without treatment social anxiety can lead to other complications like low self-esteem, poor social skills, isolation, academic or work difficulties, and loss of relationships. The common treatments for social anxiety are medication and/or therapy. Therapy can improve symptoms in most cases as it will teach how to recognize and change negative thoughts and gain confidence in yourself, especially in social situations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most common form of therapy used to treat social anxiety. This process can improve your coping skills and help you develop the confidence to deal with anxiety inducing situations through skills training and gradual exposure therapy.
How Can I Get Help For My Social Anxiety?
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or have questions about whether we can help, please fill out our contact form to speak with our intake coordinator.