Psychotherapy For Social Anxiety Disorder
One of the best treatments for social anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy . CBT helps you learn new ways to manage scary thoughts and feelings about social interactions. Your therapist may also recommend exposure therapy, which is a type of CBT.
During exposure therapy, you start to face your social fears one at a time. Each exposure will get a little harder as you practice new skills to cope with your anxiety. Over time, youll learn you can handle social situations, even when you feel anxious.
Some other types of therapy may be used to treat social anxiety disorder. These can include:
Depending on your symptoms, your provider might recommend other options. This could include:
It may take a few weeks to notice a difference when you first start taking medication. For many people, a combination of medication and therapy will be most helpful for social anxiety disorder. You and your provider will work together to create a treatment plan.
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder, often given the acronym SAD, is a condition that interferes with a persons ability to engage with others in their life. It manifests in numerous ways, and it isnt always obvious that a person is experiencing a social anxiety disorder.
For example, someone in your life who seems as confident as can be in social situations might be experiencing a terrible amount of anxiety each time they prepare to leave the house. They might also be feeling a number of symptoms as they talk to you, appearing to be as bubbly as ever.
Typically, the fear/anxiety a person experiences is in response to a situation that has a potential to be embarrassing or painful. Rejection, embarrassment, mockery, scrutinization, and failure come to mind often in people experiencing SAD.
Most people with this condition understand that their fears are unfounded. Sure, there is always a slight possibility that things can go terribly wrong in any situation for any person, but those situations are often once in a lifetime or absent from a persons life.
Someone suffering from social anxiety might dread the thought of meeting up with their closest childhood friend, for example, knowing full-well that the person loves and accepts them as they are.
Tip : Focus On Others Not Yourself
When were in a social situation that makes us nervous, many of us tend to get caught up in our anxious thoughts and feelings. You may be convinced that everyone is looking at you and judging you. Your focus is on your bodily sensations, hoping that by paying extra close attention you can better control them. But this excessive self-focus just makes you more aware of how nervous youre feeling, triggering even more anxiety! It also prevents you from fully concentrating on the conversations around you or the performance youre giving.
Switching from an internal to an external focus can go a long way toward reducing social anxiety. This is easier said than done, but you cant pay attention to two things at once. The more you concentrate on whats happening around you, the less youll be affected by anxiety.
Focus your attention on other people, but not on what theyre thinking of you! Instead, do your best to engage them and make a genuine connection.
Remember that anxiety isnt as visible as you think. And even if someone notices that youre nervous, that doesnt mean theyll think badly of you. Chances are other people are feeling just as nervous as youor have done in the past.
Really listen to what is being said not to your own negative thoughts.
Focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about what youre going to say or beating yourself up for a flub thats already passed.
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Socially Interacting With Co
Step 1: Say hello to your co-workers.
Step 2: Ask a co-worker a work-related question.
Step 3: Ask a co-worker what they did over the weekend.
Step 4: Sit in the break room with co-workers during your coffee break.
Step 5: Eat lunch in the break room with your co-workers.
Step 6: Eat lunch in the break room and make small talk with one or more of your coworkers, such as talking about the weather, sports, or current events.
Step 7: Ask a co-worker to go for a coffee or drink after work.
Step 8: Go out for lunch with a group of co-workers.
Step 9: Share personal information about yourself with one or more co-workers.
Step 10: Attend a staff party with your co-workers.
Keep Up To Date On Social
In the first lockdown, I spent every night doing a virtual pub quiz or on Zoom with friends.
But slowly, I started to enjoy the moments to myself.
I was able to try new hobbies and work on myself. But now Im finding I dont really want to go out.
I think its still because Im nervous about doing or saying the wrong thing.
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Getting Plenty Of Sleep
Getting at least eight hours of sleep per night is recommended. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety and worsen symptoms of social phobia.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications that treat anxiety and depression if your condition doesnt improve with therapy and lifestyle changes. These medications do not cure social anxiety disorder. However, they can improve your symptoms and help you function in your daily life. It can take up to three months for medication to improve your symptoms.
Medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat social anxiety disorder include Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor XR. Your healthcare provider may start you with a low dose of medication and gradually increase your prescription to avoid side effects.
Common side effects of these medications include:
- upset stomach
- lack of sexual desire
Talk to your health care provider about the benefits and risks to decide which treatment is right for you.
How Can It Affect Your Life
Social anxiety disorder prevents you from living your life. Youâll avoid situations that most people consider ânormal.â You might even have a hard time understanding how others can handle them so easily.
When you avoid all or most social situations, it affects your personal relationships. It can also lead to:
- Low self-esteem
- Poor social skills that donât improve
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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.
Where Do I Go From Here
In addition to talking to your family doctor, check out the resources below for more information about social anxiety disorder:
AnxietyBCVisit www.anxietybc.com or call 604-525-7566 for self-help information and community resources.
BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions InformationVisit www.heretohelp.bc.ca for info sheets and personal stories about social anxiety disorder. Youll also find more information, tips and self-tests to help you understand many different mental health problems.
Resources available in many languages:* If English is not your first language, say the name of your preferred language in English to be connected to an interpreter. More than 100 languages are available.
HealthLink BCCall 811 or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca to access free, non-emergency health information for anyone in your family, including mental health information. Through 811, you can also speak to a registered nurse about symptoms youre worried about, or a pharmacist about medication questions.
Crisis lines arent only for people in crisis. You can call for information on local services or if you just need someone to talk to. If you are in distress, call 310-6789 24 hours a day to connect to a BC crisis line, without a wait or busy signal. The crisis lines linked in through 310-6789 have received advanced training in mental health issues and services by members of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information.
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Who Does It Affect
Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders, and one of the most common mental illnesses. About 8% of people will experience symptoms of social anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can last for a long time. Unfortunately, many people never seek help for social anxiety disorder.
There are some groups of people at higher risk of experiencing social anxiety disorder:
AgeSocial anxiety disorder often starts sometime between childhood and teenage years. The majority of people with social anxiety disorder say that their symptoms started before they were 18
WomenWomen are more likely to experience social anxiety disorder than men
Other mental illnesses or substance use disorderMany people with social anxiety disorder have other mental illness like depression, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa and substance use disorders. However, social anxiety seems to appear before other mental illnesses.
Want To Learn More About Mental Health
Mental health issues, whether they have to do with social anxiety or something else, are important to understand. Its crucial to have resources for yourself and those around you who might need your advice.
Were here to help. Contact us for resources, information, and more discussion about mental health and various ways to improve it.
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Tip : Learn To Control Your Breathing
Many changes happen in your body when you become anxious. One of the first changes is that you begin to breathe quickly. Overbreathing throws off the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bodyleading to more physical symptoms of anxiety, such as dizziness, a feeling of suffocation, increased heart rate, and muscle tension.
Learning to slow your breathing down can help bring your physical symptoms of anxiety back under control. Practicing the following breathing exercise will help you stay calm:
- Sit comfortably with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for 4 seconds. The hand on your stomach should rise, while the hand on your chest should move very little.
- Hold the breath for 2 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds, pushing out at much air as you can. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
- Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on keeping a slow and steady breathing pattern of 4-in, 2-hold, and 6-out.
What Worsens Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. They may flare up if youre facing a lot of changes, stress or demands in your life. Although avoiding situations that produce anxiety may make you feel better in the short term, your anxiety is likely to continue over the long term if you dont get treatment.
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Social Anxiety And Self
How does this relate to social anxiety? If you apply this to social anxiety, you can imagine that the person struggling with SAD would be stuck at the level of safety needs. If you struggle daily with social anxiety disorder, you may not feel in control of your mind and body. You also might have trouble finding or keeping a job, meeting people, and other situations.
Social anxiety makes it hard for you to seek friendship, improve family bonds, feel good about yourself, and show yourself respect.
It also might make it hard for you to be creative, spontaneous, and accepting. When you are focused on when the next anxiety attack is coming, it can be hard to step back and accept yourself, choose creative pursuits, or make spontaneous plans.
But does it have to be that way? Was Maslow necessarily right in all cases?
Results from a 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that a person could achieve self-actualization and good social relationships even if basic and safety needs are not completely met.
Perhaps this means that you can jump up into self-actualization, even if you are still battling social anxiety. Try to make small changes each day to feel more in control. Focus on one area at a time until you have mastered it. Alongside these small changes, you can also be working on overcoming your anxiety.
Physical Social Anxiety Symptoms
The stress associated with anxiety can take a physical toll on the body. Some people describe this as experiencing anxiety in places like their shoulders, forehead, or stomach.
Some physical manifestations of social anxiety disorder include:
- dizziness or fainting
- hyperventilating, or shortness of breath
- nausea or vomiting
- excessive sweating
- shaking or trembling
While this list can give you an indication of whether you have social anxiety disorder, its not meant to be a substitute for diagnosis.
In some cases, these symptoms can actually feed your social anxiety disorder. For instance, blushing might make your embarrassment worse if you feel its drawing unwanted attention.
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Do I Have Social Anxiety Or Am I Just Shy
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.
Tips For Making Friends Even If Youre Shy Or Socially Awkward
No matter how awkward or nervous you feel in the company of others, you can learn to silence self-critical thoughts, boost your self-esteem, and become more confident and secure in your interactions with others. You dont have to change your personality. By simply learning new skills and adopting a different outlook you can overcome your fears and anxiety and build rewarding friendships.
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Psychological And Emotional Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
The physical signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be powerful, but the psychological and emotional symptoms of the disorder are just as significant and disabling.
Severe social anxiety produces excessive self-consciousness during interactions with other people, and the self-reflections of social anxiety sufferers tend to focus exclusively on worst-case scenarios.
The psychological and emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:
- Intense fear of being negatively judged, based on inadequate social performance
- Constant worry about saying or doing something embarrassing
- Feelings of severe awkwardness or inferiority around authority figures
- A fear that others will notice the social anxiety sufferers discomfort and reject them because of it
- Extreme reluctance to express opinions or initiate conversations, motivated by a fear of being dismissed as stupid or pushy
- A disproportionate feeling of giddiness or satisfaction at being praised or applauded by others
- A powerful desire to never be the center of attention
- Anticipatory anxiety: a debilitating fear of social situations before they arise
- Feelings of shame and inferiority during actual social encounters
- Harsh self-judgments following conversations or other interactions with people
The fears of socially anxious people are not based on a realistic assessment of the possibilities.