Unhelpful Thinking Styles That Fuel Social Anxiety
Ask yourself if youre engaging in any of the following unhelpful thinking styles:
- Mind reading Assuming you know what other people are thinking, and that they see you in the same negative way that you see yourself.
- Fortune telling Predicting the future, usually while assuming the worst will happen. You just know that things will go horribly, so youre already anxious before youre even in the situation.
- Catastrophizing Blowing things out of proportion. For example, if people notice that youre nervous, it will be awful, terrible, or disastrous.
- Personalizing Assuming that people are focusing on you in a negative way or that whats going on with other people has to do with you.
Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is more than shyness. It’s a fear that does not go away and affects everyday activities, self confidence, relationships and work or school life.
Many people occasionally worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during and after them.
You may have social anxiety if you:
- worry about everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping
- avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating with company and parties
- always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent
- find it difficult to do things when others are watching you may feel like you’re being watched and judged all the time
- fear being criticised, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem
- often have symptoms like feeling sick, sweating, trembling or a pounding heartbeat
- have panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety, usually only for a few minutes
The Intense Fear Makes It Very Difficult To Have A Healthy Social Life
Social anxiety disorder goes beyond being shy or introverted. It involves an extreme fear of social interaction and it interferes with an individual’s daily life.
The symptoms of social anxiety disorder usually begin around age 13, and symptoms persist into adulthood. Most people with social anxiety wait at least 10 years to get help, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Whether you think you may have social anxiety, or suspect someone you know suffers from it, here are the most common things people with social anxiety disorder do:
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Who Is This Social Anxiety Quiz For
This brief assessment is for people who experience anxiety in social situations. Take this quiz to determine if you meet the diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder
The questions listed below relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder.
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
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.
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They Get Tired Easily
And they may sleep more or may be too exhausted to engage in normal activites. Think about it. They spend all of their waking hours that are outside of their safe places worrying about what situations they may find themselves in, what they will say if addressed in any manner, how they will cope with a meeting at work or a class discussion in school. Their brains are relentlessly churning, and that can be exhausting. Rather than criticizing them for their tiredness, how about putting yourself in that mental situation? Would you be exhausted? Of course you will be! Rather than criticizing them, suggest a short time out or nap.
Causes And Risk Factors
The causes of social anxiety disorder are complex. They are likely to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Social anxiety disorder typically starts early in life, during a personâs adolescence or teenage years, but it can affect people of all ages. The condition is in females than males.
Possible causes and risk factors include:
- Genetics: Anxiety disorders can run in families, so there may be a genetic component at play.
- Adverse life events: Stressful or traumatic events â such as abuse, violence, the death of a loved one, or a prolonged illness â may increase the risk of an anxiety disorder. Previous bullying, humiliation, or rejection can also increase the risk.
- Parenting styles: Some
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Mental Health Treatment Program Locator
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides this online resource for locating mental health treatment facilities and programs. The Mental Health Treatment Locator section of the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator lists facilities providing mental health services to persons with mental illness. Find a facility in your state at findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. For additional resources, visit www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp.
What Are The Symptoms
Social anxiety disorder causes both emotional and physical symptoms.
- It can make you nervous, sad, or easily upset before or during a social event. You may worry a lot or be afraid that something bad will happen.
- The anxiety can cause you to blush, sweat, and feel shaky. Your heart may beat faster than normal, and you may have a hard time focusing.
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Who Is This Anxiety Quiz For
Below is a list of questions designed for people who are experiencing anxiety-inducing thoughts. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder . If youd like to learn more about anxiety read Psycoms guide, Tell Me All I Need to Know about Anxiety.
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
We all feel anxious from time to time, but anxiety disorders are more than a temporary bout of worry or fear. An anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, overwhelming feelings of anxiety, worry, or fear that are intense enough to interfere with an individuals day-to-day life. People with an anxiety disorder experience stress that is out of proportion to the thing they are worrying about and are unable to put these negative thoughts aside. They may feel constantly tense and on-edge, even if they arent certain what exactly they are anxious about.
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Avoid Using Alcohol To Cope
It’s tempting to use alcohol or other drugs to cope with social anxiety, especially if you think a substance will make you more talkative or more social.
While you might indulge in a social cocktail or two, avoid using alcohol or any other substance as an outlet for your social anxiety.
Substances that affect your mood, like alcohol, can easily make you feel more nervous to interact with others. Alcohol can also contribute to feelings of irritability and depression.
You’re also less likely to act like yourself if you’re misusing a substance. People can often tell if someone is being their authentic self or if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugsit’s best to be yourself.
How Do I Know If I Have Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder is an intense fear of group situations. The sufferer fears that they may say the wrong thing or embarrass themselves in front of others. This can even happen when they talk to others on the phone they feel they will say the wrong thing and be made fun of.
This social phobia can cause sufferers to be paranoid, nervous, and experience a panic attack. There are many different social situations in which someone may have issues.
In order to tell if you have Social Anxiety Disorder, you will want to look at certain reactions to different situations in groups and in public, as well as the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.
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They Store Previous Traumatic Events In A Different Part Of Their Brains Than Other People
We are all subject to traumatic events in our lifetimes the death of a loved one being the victim of bullying or abuse catastrophes in our childhood or adolescence violence in wartime. People who do not suffer social anxiety from such events store those memories in the left frontal portions of their brains people who develop social anxiety store those memories in the back regions of their brains those regions in which sensory perceptions are housed. Thus, the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of those experiences are recalled when similar sensory experiences are encountered . Understanding that the individual with social anxiety may be re-living prior traumatic experiences differently can go a long way towards understanding and developing sensitivity to their responses to current situations which stimulate those memories.
What Are The Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Signs of social anxiety disorder usually start to show up between ages of eight and fifteen.
There are two main kinds of social anxiety.
- Some kids with social anxiety are specifically afraid of performing. They avoid situations where theyll be in the spotlight, like public speaking or trying out for a sport.
- Other kids are afraid of social situations in general. They might be scared to go to school, eat in public, meet new people, or even just have conversations.
Kids often try to hide their social anxiety. But you might notice symptoms including:
- Physical symptoms, like shaking, sweating and shortness of breath
- Lots of anxious questions: What if I say something dumb? What if everyone thinks Im a loser?
- Tantrums and crying, especially in younger children
- Getting upset long before they have to be in the situation theyre afraid of
How Will A Diagnosis Of Social Anxiety Impact A Child Or Family
The first step to overcoming social anxiety disorder is a formal diagnosis. Once a child is diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, the family may feel relieved that a specific treatment plan can now be put into place to ease the childs symptoms. Children with social anxiety disorder are typically treated with either behavioral therapy or a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.
You Want To Go Out But Feel Unable To
While an introvert may avoid social situations in order to relax and recharge, a person dealing with social anxiety may do the same thing out of fear.
“Introverted individuals are often able to go out into social settings, however they are unable to maintain the socialization for an extended period of time,” licensed clinical social worker Ginger Poag, MSW, CEMDR, tells Bustle. On the other hand, Poag notes, those with social anxiety may want to go out, but feel they can’t, even for an hour or two. If you feel that fear may be keeping you out of social situations, talking to a friend or professional may help.
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How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed
Per the Mayo Clinic, to diagnose social anxiety disorder, your doctor may:
- Conduct a physical exam to help determine whether any medical condition or medication may be triggering your symptoms
- Discuss your symptoms, how frequently they occur, and in what situations
- Ask you whether certain situations make you feel anxious
- Have you fill out self-report questionnaires about symptoms of social anxiety
Your healthcare provider will determine whether you have the criteria for social anxiety disorder as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . These include:
- Persistent, intense fear or anxiety about specific social situations because you fear you may be judged, embarrassed, or humiliated
- Avoiding anxiety-provoking social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
- Excessive anxiety that’s out of proportion to the situation
- Anxiety or distress that interferes with your daily life
- Fear or anxiety that is not due to a medical condition, medication, or substance abuse
Buy Yourself A New Outfit
Retail therapy is obviously no cure for social anxiety, but sometimes clothing really can make you feel like a new person with a new attitude. Try to get yourself out of a rut by purchasing something outside your comfort zone. Choose a unique accent piece both to try something new and to give others a conversation starter when they first meet you.
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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.
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.
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Can I Get Diagnosed With Anxiety By An Online Mental Health Provider
While online assessments can let you know whether you are experiencing symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder, its best to see a health care professional in person to rule out or discover and treat any physical causes of your symptoms. Only qualified health care professionals can make an accurate diagnosis and start you on a treatment plan.
You Cancel Plans All The Time
While the idea of cancelling plans to make yourself feel better is common among introverts, a similar habit can be experienced out of social anxiety. There’s a small difference, however.
“Everyone sits out a social event from time to time, but if you frequently avoid social events due to fear, even though you would like to go, you might consider working on your social anxiety,” Rodebaugh says. An introvert may genuinely prefer a night to themselves, but if you have social anxiety, you may be cancelling plans for more negative reasons.
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