What Is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just feeling shy. People with social anxiety have an intense fear of situations where they could be watched, judged, embarrassed, or rejected by others. The symptoms are so extreme that they interfere with the persons daily routine and prevent them from taking part in ordinary activities.
Avoid The Usual Temptations
If you have a bad habit of wasting too much time on the internet or watching television instead of socializing, try cutting back or making it educational time in terms of learning about SAD and social skills. See how much time you gain to focus on overcoming your social anxiety and building your social skills.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Anxiety
A parent or teacher may see signs that a child or teen is anxious. For example, a kid might cling, miss school, or cry. They might act scared or upset, or refuse to talk or do things. Kids and teens with anxiety also feel symptoms that others can’t see. It can make them feel afraid, worried, or nervous.
It can affect their body too. They might feel shaky, jittery, or short of breath. They may feel “butterflies” in their stomach, a hot face, clammy hands, dry mouth, or a racing heart.
These symptoms of anxiety are the result of the “fight or flight” response. This is the body’s normal response to danger. It triggers the release of natural chemicals in the body. These chemicals prepare us to deal with a real danger. They affect heart rate, breathing, muscles, nerves, and digestion. This response is meant to protect us from danger. But with anxiety disorders, the “fight or flight” response is overactive. It happens even when there is no real danger.
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What To Do About Anxiety
Feeling constant anxiety can be a sign that something in your life isnt right, and you may need some help figuring out what that is.
Talk to your GPIf they think youre suffering from anxiety, whether mild or severe, they can suggest different types of treatment that might help. They can also offer regular check-ups to see how youre doing.
Remember you are resilient and you will get back up when you fall down.
What Might Indicate That Both Anxiety And Depression Are Present
Traits that may signal the presence of both anxiety disorder and depression include:
- Irrational worries or fears that wont go away
- Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, rapid heartbeat, labored breathing or abdominal pain
- Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep
- Changes in eating habits either too much or too little
- Trouble remembering, making decisions or concentrating
- Constant feelings of sadness or worthlessness
- Loss of usual interest in activities or hobbies
- Feeling often tired and cranky
- Inability to relax and live in the moment
- Suffering from panic attacks, including the sense of losing inner control2
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Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented
You cant prevent anxiety disorders. But you can take steps to control or reduce your symptoms:
- Check out medications: Talk to a healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies. Some of these contain chemicals that may make anxiety symptoms worse.
- Limit caffeine: Stop or limit how much caffeine you consume, including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
- Live a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Seek help: Get counseling and support if you experienced a traumatic or disturbing event. Doing so can help prevent anxiety and other unpleasant feelings from disrupting your life.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
As a human being, there are always risks that put your life in danger. Most people are lucky enough to avoid these dangers and live a nice and safe life. But in some cases, you may experience a life trauma â either physically or emotionally â and this can cause an anxiety problem known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
As the name implies, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that comes after the traumatic event has occurred. Those living with PTSD often must get outside help, because PTSD can affect people for years after the event occurs â possibly even for the rest of their life.
PTSD affects people both psychologically and physically. In most cases, the person with PTSD is the one that experienced the traumatic event, but it’s possible to get PTSD by simply witnessing an event or injury, or even simply discovering that someone close to you dealt with a traumatic event.
You may also experience severe “what if” scenarios everywhere you go, including disaster thinking or feeling helpless/hopeless in public situations. Many of those with PTSD also experience avoidance behaviors of events, things, and even people that may remind them of the event â even if there is no link between these issues and the trauma.
Those with post-traumatic stress disorder may be at a greater baseline of stress on most days. They may be short-tempered or easy to anger. They may be startled/frightened easily or be unable to sleep. PTSD can be a difficult problem to live with.
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What Are The Different Types Of Anxiety Disorder
This section provides an overview of the most common types of anxiety disorders.
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder
GAD is common. The main symptom of GAD is over worrying about different activities and events. This may feel out of your control. You feel anxious a lot of the time if you have GAD. You might feel on edge and alert to your surroundings.
This can affect your day-to-day life. You might find that it affects your ability to work, travel places or leave the house. You might also get tired easily or have trouble sleeping or concentrating. You might have physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and sweating.
It is common to have other conditions such as depression or other anxiety disorders if you have GAD.
GAD can be difficult to diagnose because it does not have some of the unique symptoms of other anxiety disorders. Your doctor is likely to say you have GAD if you have felt anxious for most days over six months and it has had a bad impact on areas of your life.
You will have regular panic attacks with no particular trigger if you have panic disorder. They can happen suddenly and feel intense and frightening. You may also worry about having another panic attack.
Panic disorder symptoms can include the following.
You may also dissociate during a panic attack. Such as feeling detached from yourself.
Social anxiety disorder
Some common situations where you may experience anxiety are the following.
What Is Almost Anxious And How Can You Handle It
As anxiety moves along the spectrum from normal to clinical, a gray area in the middle may still have a negative impact on your life: the almost anxious region. When the level of anxiety you experience is no longer adaptive or helpful to your performance and becomes a barrier to your enjoyment of life, but does not yet meet the diagnostic threshold for an anxiety disorder, you are almost anxious. You might find yourself struggling to focus your attention on tasks, distracted by negative thoughts, fear, or unpleasant body sensations. For example, someone who is almost anxious may sit at their desk all day, making minimal progress on an assignment due to constant worries and tightness in the stomach. While anxiety did not make it impossible to come to work, the level of anxiety experienced is making it hard to function. Using this concept of almost anxious can help you catch anxiety before it becomes too extreme, and target it using evidence-based strategies that help move anxiety back along the spectrum to an adaptive level.
When you find yourself feeling too anxious, try evidence-based techniques highlighted in the book Almost Anxious to bring your anxiety levels back to normal. Here are a few tools to try:
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What You Can Do
Based on your answers, we recommend:
Learning more about social anxiety and how to prevent it from becoming a problem in your life.
Check out Apps and Tools if you want to learn specific skills for managing social anxiety.
To find support in your community, online or over the phone go to the Get Support section.
Your answers suggest you might be experiencing some social anxiety. Mild social anxiety is common, particularly when we are around people who dont know us well or we are meeting for the first time and it often disappears as we get more comfortable in the situation. People who have this level of anxiety might have some ongoing concerns that other people arent forming a good impression of them.
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Tip : Learning To Breathe Better
Most of the physical symptoms of severe social anxiety are due to a problem known as hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is the act of breathing too quickly, although contrary to popular belief, hyperventilation is caused by too much oxygen and too little carbon dioxide, not the other way around.
Hyperventilation causes issues like:
- Rapid thoughts
The adrenaline from anxiety leads to many of these symptoms as well, but hyperventilation is often the biggest culprit, especially for those with severe anxiety symptoms. Thatâs why itâs important to try to control your breathing when you have severe anxiety so that these symptoms dissipate.
To reduce hyperventilation symptoms, youâre going to need to fight the urge to breathe too deeply. Hyperventilation causes people to feel as though theyâre not getting enough air, even though the opposite is true. Try the following:
- Breathe in very slowly through your nose take as much as 5 seconds or more.
- Hold for 3 seconds.
- Breathe out through your mouth like youâre whistling for 7 seconds.
Continue for a few minutes. Once hyperventilation symptoms start they do not go away that quickly. But this type of breathing will make it easier to reduce the severity of the symptoms, and possibly stop your panic attack.
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Worry Is A Component Of Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety has three main components: emotional, physiological, and cognitive.
Imagine you have a presentation coming up at work. You might notice feelings of fear and dread, two examples of the emotional component. You may also notice bodily sensations, such as heart palpitations, sweating, or a tightness in your stomach, which represent the physiological component. Finally, you might be thinking, I cant do it, or Im going to embarrass myself. Worries and negative thoughts like these about what might happen in the future are the cognitive component. So, while worry is an important part of anxiety, it is only one of the three main building blocks.
Physical Symptoms Of Severe Anxiety
Anxiety is not just about feeling anxious it is also about the real, physical symptoms caused by an anxiety disorder. The deep fear and anxiety of a person is reinforced by severe, physical symptoms of anxiety.
Physical symptoms of severe anxiety are common in panic attacks and include:1
- Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
- Shortness of breath feeling of being smothered or choked
- Chest pain
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Becoming detached from oneself and the environment
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flashes
You Avoid Things Because Of Your Fears
We all avoid things we fear or dislike: you could go your whole life without roller coasters or cilantro or horror movies. But they dont really affect your life. Anxieties start to strip away the things that do. You may dread getting a medical test because of what you could learn, says Albano. But if youre avoiding going to your doctor at all because of it, thats a problem.
People with an airplane phobia may, similarly, limit their travel to only places they can drive. People with big dreams may sometimes settle for smaller ones because their anxiety holds them back. I know people who went to law school and wanted to pursue a career in criminal law but were afraid to be in front of a courtroom, says Albano. So they push documents in a law firm instead.
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.
There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online.
Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:
Or you can call the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service on 0300 5000 927 for more information.
You can find more information about Recovery by clicking here.
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Do Let Them Know Youre Here For Them
When learning how to help someone with anxiety, you may want to explain to the person that youve noticed that they seem more anxious lately and that you want to help.
This will typically come as a welcome relief to the person, as they realise that they dont have to carry the burden of their anxiety alone. Having this conversation gives the person a chance to see that they have people who care about them, who want to listen and who want them to feel better. Someone suffering from anxiety could also tell you ways you can help manage their anxiety symptoms.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders
We dont fully understand what causes anxiety disorders. But it is thought that the following factors can cause anxiety.
Genetics. Some people seem to be born more anxious than others. You may get anxiety through your genes.
Life experience. This could be bad experiences such as being abused or losing a loved one. It could also include big changes in life such as moving home, losing your job or pregnancy.
Drugs. Caffeine in coffee and alcohol can make you feel anxious. Illegal drugs, also known as street drugs can also have an effect.
Circumstances. Sometimes you know what is causing your anxiety. When the problem goes, so does your anxiety.
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