Ideas For How To Help A Child With Social Anxiety Disorder
Whether you are a parent or an educator, there are steps you can take to help your student or child succeed in both traditional and virtual classroom environments. Here are seven tips for how to help your child overcome social anxiety at school , with practical strategies for supporting students at every grade level and age. From third graders to high schoolers, your children or students can benefit from these simple yet effective ideas.
Proven Ways To Cure Social Anxiety
For as long as I can remember, I have been scared.
Growing up, I didnt know what the words social anxiety disorder meant. It wasnt until many years later Id find out I had it.
- It was why I couldnt make or hold eye contact with most people.
- It was why I felt constantly tense and worn out if I wasnt alone by myself.
- It was why my voice was so quiet, shaky and insecure.
- It was what made me so nervous, awkward and withdrawn around people.
- To the point that I couldnt even hold a regular conversation or have friends like a normal person.
Social anxiety stole over 20 years of my life away.
Years of nervous sweat dripping down my armpits every time I spoke up in class. Years of weirdly avoiding people every day and staying in every weekend night. Not because I wanted to, but because I was afraid. Years of believing that I would never get a girlfriend and spend my life alone and unwanted.
This page is written for people who want to cure their severe social anxiety, like I did.
If you feel bitter and even angry sometimes when you see how most people in the world are born knowing how to easily socialize, make friends and get a relationship
If you feel like the best years of your life are slipping through your fingers day by day, year by year
Then I feel for you. I really do.
Create An Exposure Hierarchy
Identify and rate how each social situation makes you feel in terms of anxiousness. For example, 0 would mean no anxiety and 10 would be a full-blown panic attack. Make a list and write down how you think you would feel for every situation, no matter how small or big. From walking into a room at a gathering to asking a stranger on the tube for the time. Its important to write down on a piece of paper your predictions so that when the times comes to experience it, you know how you thought you would feel.
The majority of the time the thought of doing something is scarier than actually doing it and we usually cope a bit better. Test your predictions and keep a record of social situations, your predictions and then how you actually felt. You might find that talking to your co-worker was actually a 4 instead of a 9. All this helps towards tracking and trying to ease social anxiety.
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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.
Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
The median age at onset of social anxiety disorder is 13 years, and 75% have an age at onset between 8 and 15 years. The disorder can emerge out of a childhood history of social inhibition or shyness but can also be triggered by a traumatic experience, including bullying.1 Approximately 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder. 2
The defining feature of social anxiety disorder includes marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the person might be subject to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions, being observed by others, and performing in front of others. 3
Other symptoms of social anxiety disorder include the following:
- The person feels that he or she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated
- The social situations always trigger fear or anxiety
- Social situations are avoided or endured with intense feelings of fear and anxiety
- The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat
- The fear, anxiety, and avoidance lasts for 6 months or more
- Causes clinically significant distress in social, occupational , or other areas of functioning
- Dread of social events that can occur weeks in advance
- Excessive clinging to familiar people
- Tantrums when faced with anxiety provoking social situations
- Blaming others for perceived social failures
- Physical symptoms: Blushing, racing heart, shaky voice, trembling, nausea, difficulty speaking
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Treatment For Social Anxiety Disorder And High Functioning Social Anxiety
People with high-functioning social anxiety are relatively privileged in comparison to those with social anxiety disorder. But they often earned their high-functioning status through hard work, dedicated effort, and an ongoing commitment to treatment, which is an avenue for recovery potentially open to all.
As a starting point,inpatient social anxiety treatment programs in a residential mental health facility gives social anxiety disorder sufferers the best chance for eventual recovery. But inpatient treatment also has much to recommend it for those whove been high-functioning for many years, who often suffer in silence despite outward appearances.
With intensive, round-the-clock treatment services in a fully supportive healing environment, men and women with high-functioning social anxiety can find further relief from their most persistent symptoms, which may remain unpleasant, stress-inducing, and limiting in many ways despite not being fully debilitating.
While there is no cure for social anxiety, when its symptoms are present there is always room for improvement, even if those symptoms havent been a substantial barrier to achievement. Mild-to-moderate social anxiety is still social anxiety, and inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are still appropriate and usually highly effective for those who experience social anxiety in any form or at any level of intensity.
How To Get Help For Severe Social Anxiety
When the above actions simply do not cut it, and you find yourself becoming more isolated as the result of the disorder, it is important to know how to get help for severe social anxiety. Outpatient services through a private practice psychiatrist can offer psychotherapy, group support, and medication for mild to moderate social anxiety, but for severe social anxiety, a more intensive approach through a residential program is appropriate.
A residential wellness program can assist someone suffering from excessive social anxiety through the following treatment elements:
Treating social anxiety disorder is absolutely possible, but requires a skilled therapist who employs CBT as the basis of treatment. The techniques taught by the CBT therapist will need to be practiced consistently until they eventually become habit. Combined with medication, and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness, severe social anxiety can be treated and overcome.
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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.
Visualize What You Want
What exactly do you want? If you haven’t defined this for yourself, then you don’t know where you are headed or how to get there. Do you want more friends, a better job, or simply not to feel anxious all the time? Visualize having those things that you want this will help motivate you to do what needs to be done to get out of a rut.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations doesnt mean you have social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people feel shy or self-conscious on occasion, yet it doesnt get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, does interfere with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress.
For example, its perfectly normal to get the jitters before giving a speech. But if you have social anxiety, you might worry for weeks ahead of time, call in sick to get out of it, or start shaking so bad during the speech that you can hardly speak.
Emotional signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
- Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
- Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
- Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you dont know
- Fear that youll act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate yourself
- Fear that others will notice that youre nervous
Physical signs and symptoms:
- Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
- Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
- A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
- Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves
The Definition Reality Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Occasionally someone will ask me what its like to have social anxiety. Well, heres how the psychology professors describe it:
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a persons life. It is chronic because it does not go away on its own.
You know the problem with this definition? It doesnt capture the REALITY of how bad having social anxiety really is. I still remember my darkest days vividly, heres just one small example
Youre taking an innocent walk in the park. Its a beautiful day. Youre really enjoying yourself. The grass is green, the birds are singing and life feels great.
Suddenly, you see some people walking towards you in the distance. Your heart skips a beat. You start to freak out inside. You try to figure out if its someone you know. Immediately you want to turn around and avoid these people, but theyve already seen you. It would look weird.
So you keep walking towards them.
Its a couple of cute girls and theyre getting closer.
At this point Id be thinking something like SH*T SH*T SH*T SH*T!
At least until the next person walks by.
In this article Im going to give an overview of the different common treatment options available for you, and which ones are the best in my opinion.
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Try Exercise Or Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Research shows that certain physical activities like jogging can help lower your anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation can help, too. This means flexing and releasing groups of muscles in your body and keeping your attention on the feeling of the release.
Yoga can also help you calm down. Certain types involve deep breathing, so they can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Studies show that doing yoga for a few months can help lower overall anxiety. In fact, just one class may improve mood and anxiety.
Feeling Like An Imposter Or Fraud At Work
Many people with social anxiety hide it extremely well. In fact, Ive found that social anxiety seems to be especially prevalent among people who might describe themselves as high-achievers or Type-A.
In other words, social anxiety is more prevalent than you would think in people who look like theyve got it all together on the outside. But on the inside, theyre plagued with self-doubt and imposter syndrome
- They constantly feel like theyre a fraud, not good enough, and that at any moment people are going to figure it out.
- Theyre in the habit of chronically comparing themselves to others and never feeling like they match up.
- They struggle to appreciate their wins and successes because as soon as something goes well, they immediately worry that its not good enough or that someone will find fault with them.
Of course, this struggle of feeling like a fraud tends to show up most frequently at work. And interestingly, is especially common among people who are higher up in a company or organizationas a client explained to me once, the higher you climb the further you have to fall.
Okay, now that weve covered what social anxiety is and what it looks like, lets take a look at where social anxiety comes from and what causes it.
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Powerful Ways To Help Overcome Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder is often misunderstood and many people could be suffering in silence. Its much more than feeling shy and not wanting to speak up in big groups. It can really take control and impede your everyday life. Tasks such as leaving the house, speaking on the phone or shopping can be troubling and difficult to cope with. Anxiety Care UK states that social anxiety is a common and distressing condition with as many as 40% of the population suffering from it.
Social anxiety or phobia can have all sorts of repercussions and you may not only worry about negative evaluation but positive evaluation also. One study found that people who succeed at work might worry about outshining their coworkers. They simply dont want to stand out, even positively.
People suffering from social anxiety disorder look to avoid social situations. About 20% of people with social anxiety also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, with a recent study showing a stronger correlation among women. Research has shown that women have been more affected by social anxiety however its men that tend to seek more help for their phobia.
Ask Your Support System For A Helping Hand
It can be embarrassing or humbling to admit to people in your life that youre anxious in social situations and might need help. However, letting a friend or loved one know you might need some extra support can be a major boost. Many times, people are going to feel more comfortable if theyre in a social situation with somebody that theyre close to, Dr. Potter says. Especially if somebody has been fairly isolated in recent times, it can be helpful at first to have a buddy when you go back into a social situation.
The key to this support is helping an anxious person become more independent over time. Eventually, people with more generalized social anxiety will find it uncomfortable to go shopping or order food by themselves, Dr. Potter explains. You want to balance supporting a person and encouraging them to do it themselves.
If youre a friend or family member of somebody anxious in social situations, one way to offer support is to bring them into the conversation. You might be like, Oh, I think Sara has something she would probably like to say on that subject. Shes really interested in that, Dr. Potter says. You can support them by bringing them out of their shells. Before doing that, however, be sure to ask the person if thats OK. If youre a person with social anxiety, you may not like being put on the spot to say something. Talk to that person in advance about how they want to handle certain things.
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