Understanding Social Anxiety

To start to understand what it is like to have social anxiety, let’s first look at what it is.

Anxiety is a normal aspect of life, going for a job interview or the first day of school it is expected to feel anxious. It is not normal to have it consistently, to feel fear when there is no danger around. Anxiety has three parts, it can affect you physically, psychologically, and behaviorally it can disable and interfere with what you do daily. You can experience light-headedness, racing heart, nausea, and much more; you are mainly worrying yourself sick because you aren’t in full rational control.

Numerous disorders fall under the anxiety umbrella, including one of the most common, social anxiety or social phobia. When you get to the root of it, social anxiety is the fear of getting judged, embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected in any social situation. If you suffer from this, it can make daily routines difficult and can lead you to avoid situations all together. People may recognize it as you are shy, quiet, weird or anti-social but there is an internal and mental battle happening inside your mind.

“They are talking about me.”

“No one likes me anyway.”

“I don’t say anything smart, so why join the conversation.”

Those are just a few of the possible negative thoughts that run through the mind of someone with social anxiety.

One in four people will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are a real medical condition and can be severe; it is not something that someone can “just get over” if it becomes too much, please ask for help. There is nothing wrong with getting help from friends, family, or a professional. Treatments can vary, there are therapy and medications that can help with coping.

With talk therapy, you can work it out with a therapist and recognize what causes your panic attacks and change the negative thoughts you have. They can give you tips and self-care exercises for you to do so you can get the skills to help gain more confidence.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a social intervention that gets you to slowly work up to facing your fears and situations head on. CBT can include role-playing and small outings building up to going where your concern is at its highest.

The primary type of medications prescribed for anxiety is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). You will generally start on a low dosage until you know how it will affect you and the possible side effects. It can take weeks or even months for it to work and you feel the full effect of the medications.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what someone with social anxiety goes through daily.

Until next time,

Sarah Wylde

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