Social anxiety is something that causes overwhelming feelings of anxiety when having to be in social situations. It’s also known as social phobia, it mostly starts during the young adult years but can happen at any point in life and can sometimes just spring upon us for no reason. It can be a very hard time having to cope with social anxiety. It can have a huge impact on not only your mental health and physical health but your social life and life in general.
For some, it can often begin to ease as they get older but most of the time if the feelings of it are severe then it won’t go away without certain treatment. It’s important like always with anything to do with mental health that you seek help and reach out to someone you trust.
Social anxiety is more than just feeling anxious at a social event it’s a fear that does not go away and constantly lingers around. It affects daily life, friendships, relationships, work-life, school and self-confidence. It can have such a negative impact on your life and really take over making it harder to be able to go out and socialise with other people.
Many of us, do sometimes worry about certain social situations especially if it’s people we don’t know or going to a place we’ve not been. Which is fine to feel a little bit on edge, but for someone that suffers from social anxiety, they feel an intense amount of worried days even weeks before the event happens. Whilst also feeling that through the situations and after it. Constantly carrying that anxiousness around with them.
Symptoms of social anxiety
Some common symptoms of social anxiety are using a lot of excuses to avoid social activities. Worry a lot about everyday activities and who you might see. Being anxious about having to make a phone call, going to work or shopping and socialising with others. You might often find it hard to do things when others are watching. Constantly feeling that fear that people are watching them and judging. Similar to going out and feeling like everyone is staring at you when they’re not.
You might hate criticism and try and avoid situations where they would get it. You may try and avoid eye contact with others then that way they won’t have to start a conversation with them. Other physical symptoms could be feeling sick, pounding heartbeat, tight throat, tight chest and sweating. Another symptom may be a panic attack which could occur when the situation you’re in is causing an overwhelming fear and the anxiety levels are high.
Your body and mind may experience a lot of effects from suffering from social anxiety for a long period of time. These can mean that they might have difficulty sleeping, a weakened immune system and perhaps problems with digestion. It may mean that they, later on, might develop depression. You may also develop a phobia of going out due to the overwhelming feelings of anxiousness.
Social anxiety in children
Social anxiety doesn’t only affect adults but it can affect children too. It’s important to know the symptoms and just what to do if you feel your child is suffering. If a child is suffering from social anxiety they might be crying a lot of getting upset a lot more than normal, avoiding interaction with other children. Not asking for help at school, spending time alone, getting angry a lot and they might have a fear of joining in at school with activities and social events.
If you’re worried about your child having symptoms of social anxiety it’s best to get help. The treatments are fairly similar to those with teenagers and adults but medication is often not used. You as a parent may be given certain self-help strategies to help your child in between sessions.
Causes of social anxiety
The thing is there is no solid research as to what causes social anxiety but it is always linked to a social situation. Which will make you feel fear and anxiousness, but there are a few other causes that could be the reason why social anxiety occurs. It can sometimes be to do with your physical health, maybe if you drink a load of caffeine, have too much sugar, eat a lot of unhealthy food, drugs, lack of sleep, stress can make anxiety a lot worse.
Sometimes traumatic experiences can be a reason why if you’ve been through a hard experience that had a major impact on their life. It may make you feel anxious if anything similar occurs. It could also be that your parents or a relative suffer from anxiety which means the feelings of being anxious could be something you learnt earlier on in life. Another cause could be the feeling of not being in control, so not knowing what the outcome is. This could make you feel incredibly anxious knowing you don’t have control over a certain situation.
Sometimes we can often help ourselves with certain situations and how anxious we feel. Many self-help strategies can reduce feelings of anxiety. It can help to try some relaxation techniques some yoga and deep breathing to really calm yourself down and unwind can help massively. Try to understand your way of thinking and the anxiety you’re experiencing and when it happens. Make a note of what kind of situations it flares up in and what’s triggering that. Exercise is such a massive part as well, regular excercise to give you a boost not just physically but mentally.
Releasing the endorphins which then helps to reduce anxiety. Plan out what you have got going on and when and write how you’re going to cope with the situation. Also ways you can help yourself if you feel the anxiety taking over. Plan ahead and be prepared is something that might help you in the long run and getting plenty of rest and laying off the caffeine and sugar.
It’s so important to get proper help if you feel that social anxiety is becoming a burden in your life. If you’ve felt this way for a long time and nothing seems to help it’s vital to get help. It’s a good idea to see a GP if you think you are having any symptoms related to social anxiety. It’s a common problem that a lot of people suffer from and there are treatments out there that can help tremendously.
Reaching out for help can be hard and that may also make you feel anxious in itself. But it’s important to reach out and get the help you need.
There is a wide range of treatments available for social anxiety the most common being cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Which will occur with a therapist and it’s a type of therapy that helps you identify the negative thought patterns. Whilst concentrating on behaviours that are happening and ways in which you can change them. This can also be done in a group, with a parent or a carer.
Guided self-help is another one so similar to the strategies talked about previously but this time guided by a professional. It involves working through a CBT-based book or an online course that will help you whilst you also get regular support from a therapist. Another form of treatment is antidepressants which reduce the feelings of anxiety but are normally a last resort if the CBT doesn’t work.
The professional will most likely ask about how you’re feeling, the behaviours and symptoms surrounding your anxiety and social situations.
If you’re looking for any online counselling or walk and talk therapy whether you’re a parent and you’re looking for your children. You yourself need it or you’re a student or anyone that is struggling at this time, then please do not hesitate to contact Becky. You can access contact details here. Check out the website for more information and what there is to offer.
Call Anxiety UK on 0344 477 5774