Social Anxiety Disorder In Children
Theres nothing abnormal about a child being shy, but children with social anxiety disorder experience extreme distress over everyday situations such as playing with other kids, reading in class, speaking to adults, or taking tests. Often, children with social phobia dont even want to go to school.
Overcoming Social Anxiety Is A Process
There are no quick fix for social anxiety. Much of it involves slowly breaking down each individual fear, and challenging negative thoughts again and again. Essentially, it is like retraining the brain and that can take time. With consistency and patience, social anxiety symptoms can be managed and have far less of an impact on ones life.
Was this article helpful?
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder previously called social phobia is a mental health condition that affects about 12% of U.S. adults during their lifetime.
This condition is characterized by an overwhelming fear of being negatively judged or evaluated. Unlike the nervousness that many people experience in challenging situations, social anxiety disorder involves a long-lasting fear that disrupts peoples everyday routines.
If left untreated, the condition can continue negatively impacting peoples lives, causing some people to avoid certain places or interactions. Social anxiety disorder can lead to depression, self-harm, or thoughts of suicide.
People with social anxiety disorder also have difficulty performing daily activities, which can have negative consequences such as:
Lower educational levels
Lower income levels
Difficulties with romantic relationships
Whats more, it may be challenging for people with social anxiety disorder to seek medical help, as they fear what other people might think or say.
You May Like: Does Topamax Help With Anxiety
How Cbd May Reduce Social Anxiety
Although this is an area of great complexity and the neuroscience is still being worked out, CBD has been shown to work as an anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing drug. Individuals suffering from social anxiety who were given CBD were found to have increased blood flow in the cingulate cortex, which plays a role in interpreting the reactions of others.
In a 2015 review, cannabidiol was supported as a treatment for social anxiety disorder when administered acutely . However, we don’t know what the effects are of long-term use of marijuana.
They also experienced decreased blood flow to the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus , which are key in forming and recalling memories, and also the inferior temporal gyrus, which helps you perceive faces. In studies with rats, CBD has been shown to reduce aversion to stressful situations.
CBD is thought to inhibit the uptake of anandamide in the PAG. Substances that inhibit the uptake of anandamide have been shown to prevent anxiety. In addition, all of the brain areas involved in anxiety, including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and PAG contain CB1 receptors, which are indirectly involved in the effect of CBD.
As a whole, we still don’t know exactly how CBD has its effect. However, it seems that when using this substance, you may be better able to suppress unpleasant memories of anxiety or embarrassment, and also have a better ability to perceive the reactions of others.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
SSRIs are often the first-line treatment for social anxiety and depression.
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter, a molecule that helps send messages throughout your body. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and anxiety.
Also Check: How To Deal With Anxiety At Work
What Do We Know About The Causes Of Social Anxiety Disorder
As with many disorders of mental health, the development of social anxiety disorder is probably best understood as an interaction between several different biopsychosocial factors .
Genetic factors seem to play a part, but genes may influence the probability of developing any anxiety or depressive disorder rather than developing social anxiety in particular. Higher rates of social anxiety disorder are reported in relatives of people with the condition than in relatives of people without the condition, and this effect is stronger for the generalised subtype . Further evidence for a genetic component comes from twin studies. found that if one twin is affected, the chance of the other twin being affected is higher if the twins are genetically identical than if they only share 50% of their genes . However, heritability estimates are only 25 to 50%, indicating that environmental factors also have an important role in the development of the condition for many people.
Stressful social events in early life are commonly reported by people with social anxiety disorder . Parental modelling of fear and avoidance in social situations plus an overprotective parenting style have both been linked to the development of the condition in some studies .
Neuroimaging studies so far suggest different activation of specific parts of the brain when threatening stimuli are presented compared with healthy volunteers.
Become Your Own Best Advocate
Nobody else is going to look out for you the way you can look out for yourself. Gather knowledge about SAD so that you can make better decisions. Ask for accommodations at work and school if you feel they will help you. Guide others toward better understanding of the struggles you face. Take time out at parties if you feel the need. Nobody else knows what it is like to be you.
Read Also: Is Online School Good For Social Anxiety
What Causes Social Anxiety
Although it may feel like youre the only one with this problem, social anxiety is actually quite common. Many people struggle with these fears. But the situations that trigger the symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be different.
Some people experience anxiety in most social situations. For others, anxiety is connected to specific social situations, such as speaking to strangers, mingling at parties, or performing in front of an audience. Common social anxiety triggers include:
- Meeting new people
- Being the center of attention
- Being watched while doing something
- Being teased or criticized
- Talking with important people or authority figures
- Being called on in class
- Going on a date
- Speaking up in a meeting
- Using public restrooms
- Eating or drinking in public
- Making phone calls
- Attending parties or other social gatherings
Treating Anxiety Without Medication
If you suffer from anxiety, the constant, nagging feelings of worry can be troubling and hard to control. These feelings are usually intense and out of proportion to the actual troubles and dangers in your everyday life. They can make it hard to function at home, at work, or in social situations.
Anxiety can be treated with medication, but several mind-body approaches may also be effective.
Hypnosis is sometimes used along with cognitive behavioral therapy to treat anxiety. It can help people focus their attention, rethink problems, relax, and respond to helpful suggestions. Hypnosis relies mainly on your ability to concentrate and on the trust you have in the therapist. If you are interested in hypnosis, discuss it first with your psychiatrist or psychologist. She or he can help you find a qualified practitioner.
Biofeedback measures specific body functions, such as heartbeat or breathing, and feeds this information back to you in the form of sounds or lights. This can help you become aware of your body’s responses and learn to control them using relaxation and cognitive techniques. You can practice different relaxation techniques while attached to biofeedback equipment and get immediate sensory input about which techniques produce the desired results, such as slowing the heart rate or relaxing tense muscles. The hope is that this extra feedback helps people find and refine techniques that can calm the body and reduce anxiety.
Read Also: What Can You Take For Anxiety
Gradually Introduce Yourself To Anxiety
Dr. Potter recommends what she calls situational exposure. Identify certain social situations youre afraid of, and work your way up from easier to more difficult scenarios while practicing relaxation techniques so you can tolerate anxiety. For example, if you have a fear of large groups, and youve been mostly avoiding group activities, start by going out with a friend one on one, she explains. Then work your way up to going out with a small group of friends. Repeat as needed until you feel more comfortable before attempting to go to a restaurant, a bar or a party where there would be more people. You can also work on situational exposure with the support of a therapist, Dr. Potter says. Like cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy is a type of treatment a trained psychologist can provide.
What Social Anxiety Feels Like
Weve gone over the official symptoms of social anxiety disorder that mental health professionals look for to make a diagnosis. But what does it actually feel like to live with social anxiety every day? What are some of the other signs you should watch out for?
If youre wondering whether youre just shy or if you have social anxiety, ask yourself if you often experience the following signs and symptoms:
- You experience physical symptoms when youre in certain social situations, like blushing, excessive sweating, trembling, or a rapid heart rate.
- You are feeling nauseous or lightheaded when youre in, or preparing for, social situations.
- You are so anxious in social situations that you have a hard time speaking.
- You rely heavily on alcohol or drugs to feel okay in social situations.
- You are overly stiff in social situations, like rigid posture, speaking too softly, or not making eye contact.
- Being overly afraid of, or even obsessed with, the idea of being judged or humiliated. You may worry excessively about what others thought of you, even after the interaction is over.
- Having so much anxiety that youre missing school or work, or turning down social invitations regularly.
No one can tell you whether or not you have social anxiety disorder besides a licensed mental health professional. However, if these signs are familiar to you, it might be good to seek support. Social anxiety is a treatable condition, and you dont need to live with these feelings forever.
Also Check: How To Treat Depression And Anxiety
Tip : Make An Effort To Be More Social
Actively seeking out supportive social environments is another effective way of challenging your fears and overcoming social anxiety. The following suggestions are good ways to start interacting with others in positive ways:
Take a social skills class or an assertiveness training class. These classes are often offered at local adult education centers or community colleges.
Volunteer doing something you enjoy, such as walking dogs in a shelter, or stuffing envelopes for a campaignanything that will give you an activity to focus on while you are also engaging with a small number of like-minded people.
Work on your communication skills. Good relationships depend on clear, emotionally-intelligent communication. If you find that you have trouble connecting to others, learning the basic skills of emotional intelligence can help.
Prevalence Onset And Impact
Social anxiety disorder is a common condition. The National Comorbidity Survey of more than 8000 individuals in the contiguous 48 states found a lifetime prevalence of 13.3% and a 12-month prevalence of 7.9%. More recently, a community survey from Germany of 3021 individuals aged 14 to 24 years found a lifetime prevalence of 9.5% in women and 4.9% in men. Closer to home, Katzelnick et al. screened more than 3000 members of a health maintenance organization in Madison, Wisconsin, and found that 8.2% met criteria for social anxiety disorder. A particularly disturbing finding from this study was that only 0.5% had been diagnosed previously. In the primary care setting, Stein et al. found that 7% of 511 patients were afflicted with social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder usually begins in childhood or adolescence. The mean age at onset is 10 to 13 years, although a substantial minority reported onset between ages 0 and 5 years. Patients from the very early onset group describe the disorder as having been present for as long as they can remember. In community samples, women are overrepresented by a ratio of up to 2 to 1, while in clinical settings the gender distribution is often more even. Once present, social anxiety disorder is likely to be persistent and debilitating.
You May Like: How Do You Know If You Need Anxiety Medication
Surround Yourself With Positive People
If at all possible, try to spend more time with positive people people who love you, believe in you, and see the beauty in who you are despite your social anxiety.
Spending time with these people will make you feel good and help you to weather any rough times as you try to make changes in your life.
When You Experience A Panic Attack
With either sort of social phobia, these feelings can end in a panic attack.
This is a short period, usually only a few minutes, during which you feel overwhelmingly anxious, terrified of losing control.
You may feel that you are going mad or dying. You will usually try to get out of the situation that has brought it on. These feelings reach a peak and then pass off rapidly, leaving you feeling weak and exhausted.
Although these attacks are very alarming, they do stop on their own and cannot harm you physically.
Read Also: Can Anxiety Cause Acid Reflux
Who Is At Risk Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder affects 1 in 8 people over their lifetime. Women are twice as likely to have it as men. Young adults under the age of 35 are more often affected.
Both environmental factors and genetic factors cause social anxiety. People who have a family history of anxiety are more likely to develop one themselves.
People who tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations might avoid them. This leads to isolation, which can make the problem worse.
Be Aware Of The Root Cause Of Social Anxiety
The more we allow ourselves to believe in social anxiety as the reason why were afraid, the more we reinforce it. Once we accept that social anxiety is a product of our fears, it becomes easier to take control. We can recognize when were being defensive or when someone else is trying to attack us.
We can also learn to focus on people and how they make us feel instead of what they might be thinking about us. We can learn to see past our fears and realize that even if someone else has a terrible opinion of us, its not scary if we know what caused them to think that way.
For example, a child who is told that they are too loud or annoying will begin to fear judgment and pre-judgment from others. This causes them to self-censor because of imagined judgments from those around them. This leads to social anxiety and avoidance of any person or place they believe may judge them even if its only in their own minds.
The reality is, many people have judged themselves at one point in their lives for something that they believe is true about themselves. A person who believes that they are not worth anything will begin to feel inferior to others. A teenager who is told that they will end up flipping burgers for the rest of their life because they lack the intelligence to do much more will feel a sense of shame and inadequacy.
This is why I believe that everyone with social anxiety must find the root cause of social anxiety and rid themselves of it before they can truly heal.
Don’t Miss: Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder