Signs You Have Social Anxiety According To A Therapist
Many clients are surprised to learn they have a diagnosis of social anxiety. In fact, according to the NIMH, an incredible 18% of the population suffers from anxiety. Of those, 63% arent receiving treatment, and 34% of those arent receiving adequate treatment. Some sufferers assume they might only be shy, introverted or quiet others think they are awkward or lacking in social skills. Interestingly, women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men.
Here are 10 signs that what youre dealing with might be social anxiety, and not simply shyness:
1. You skip events you are interested in, only because you think you will feel awkward.
Salsa dancing sounds cool. But you cringe thinking about how stupid youll look doing it, so you dont go. Even if other people dont know how to dance either, you assume theyll look less silly than you. If an event involves any aspect of performing, youre even more scared to go.
2. Similarly, you might decide youre NOT really interested in events, because you think youll feel awkward.
This would be same as the person above, except you convince yourself salsa dancing is ridiculous in general. You know in your heart that you might find it fun, but you push that thought away and hide behind sarcasm or cynicism.
3. Whenever your appearance changes slightly, youre terrified to go out and see people.
4. You dont expect anyone to be friends with you.
5. You have a million excuses for why you dont date.
What You Can Do About It
When Should I Talk To My Doctor About Social Anxiety
First, its important to know that you are not abnormal if you have social anxiety. Many people have it. If you have unusually high anxiety and fear about social situations, talk openly with your doctor about treatment. If left untreated, social anxiety disorder may lead to depression, drug or alcohol problems, school or work problems, and a poor quality of life.
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What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychological treatment. Your psychologist or therapist works with you to change your thinking and behavioral patterns that are harmful or unhelpful.
CBT usually takes place over multiple sessions. Through talking and asking questions, your therapist or psychologist helps you gain a different perspective. As a result, you learn to respond better to and cope with stress, anxiety and difficult situations.
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Can A Pandemic Trigger Social Anxiety
Pandemics can be stressful on individuals and entire families. Over the past few months, weve learned about a new disease and a whole host of new social conventions. Weve learned about social distancing, isolation, and how often items needs to be disinfected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , stress, depression, and anxiety are increasing.
Many individuals find that going into public right now can be scary but can a pandemic trigger social anxiety?
The Effect Of Parenting Styles On Social Anxiety
Extensive research has confirmed a connection between negative parenting styles and anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder.
When parents are overcontrolling, quick to criticize, reluctant to show affection, or overly concerned with the opinions of others, a childs self-image and impression of the world can be shaped by words and actions associated with these characteristics.
Children and adolescents may become more fearful and less trustful of other people when they are raised in this environment, and their self-esteem and self-confidence may be negatively impacted as well. In these instances, parents dont realize their actions are harmful, but their focus on the negative inadvertently can set their children up for trouble later in life.
Social anxiety disorder is usually not diagnosed until sufferers reach adulthood, but symptoms tend to first manifest in late childhood or early adolescence, which bolsters the idea that parental influences are playing a formational role in the development of the disorder.
How To Tell If Youre Just Shy Or Battling Social Anxiety According To Experts
If youre an introvert, you may feel insecure or even wonder if theres something wrong with you because you dont enjoy making small talk or meeting new people as much as everyone else. It can become especially tricky when you begin college and find yourself starting over, surrounded by unfamiliar faces. You may even become concerned that you have social anxiety disorder, and thats the real reason you sometimes choose not to socialize. But experts say theres a major difference between being shy and having social anxiety disorder. Heres how to know where you stand.
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Specific Symptoms Of Social Anxiety Disorders
Symptoms of social anxiety disorders can be emotional and physical. While there are many different and specific disorders and each has unique symptoms, the one thing that they all have in common is persistent worry and/or fear. If youre comfortable with your shyness, you probably dont have a disorder.
The following are some of the symptoms:
- Easily blushing and trembling when you are around others
- Heart racing in social situations
- Nauseousness in social situations
- Inability to make or keep eye contact
- Fear of being around people and great difficulty participating in conversations
- Feeling uncomfortable and easily embarrassed around others
- Avoiding going to places so you dont have to interact with others, even servers and store employees
Sadly, only about half of those suffering from a social anxiety disorder receive treatment, and then only after many years of suffering. If you have these symptoms or a combination of some of them, come to our Newport Beach, California, office and talk to Dr. E. That alone might make you feel better and can rule out certain things.
At Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health, we take you through all of your options and work with your specific and very individual needs. Our expertise helps get you through your anxiety. Call us for an appointment, or book easily online right here.
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What About Shyness Or Quietness
While shyness and general quietness arent mutually exclusive from social anxiety disorder, one doesnt always mean the other. Many people are what we would consider shy or quiet, and those normal traits can lead to some anxiety.
People who are shy might be asked to speak up or just be themselves, and this social feedback could make them think that something is wrong. Its normal and natural to be introverted or shy, so long as youre not shuttered by an underlying feeling of intense anxiety and fear around social situations.
Social anxiety disorder doesnt have to do with your personality traits so much as your internal experience surrounding social interactions.
That intense anxiety will likely interrupt your ability to conduct life in the way you otherwise would. Lets take a look at some of the symptoms that social anxiety disorder produces that prevent one from living life freely.
Ways To Reduce Social Anxiety
Lets face it: social situations can be nerve-racking. Small talk makes you break into a sweat, and big gatherings make you wish you never stepped out of the house. Plus, pandemic isolation and the work-from-home setup did nothing to sharpen our social skills.
Dont worry, youre not the only one who feels this way. Lots of people feel nervous in social situations. The good news is you dont always have to be a nervous wreck around people in public.
Here are 10 ways you can reduce your social anxiety and feel more comfortable in the presence of others!
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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.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Social Anxiety Disorder
There may be a genetic component to social anxiety disorder for some people. Youre more likely to develop the disorder if your biological parents or siblings have the condition. However, scientists still dont understand why some family members have the condition while others dont.
Research suggests that being raised by parents who engage in negative parental practices, such as being overprotective, overly anxious, or rejecting, may contribute to the development of social anxiety.
Some researchers think misreading other peoples behavior may play a role in causing social anxiety or making it worse. For example, if you think people are staring or frowning at you when they are not.
Underdeveloped social skills may also contribute to social anxiety disorder.
Researchers are also investigating the roles that stress and environmental factors may play in causing social anxiety disorder.
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Quiz: Do I Have Social Anxiety Or Am I Just Shy
Its normal to feel a little shy from time to time. Maybe you get a little nervous when you walk into a party and you dont know anyone, or you might get a little anxious on the first day of school. Thats normal shyness, but social anxiety is something different, and it can be crippling. If you wonder if you suffer from social anxiety, this is the test for you. After you complete the test, youll know the answer to the question, Do I have social anxiety? Then, you can move forward with treatment if necessary.
Tips For Managing Social Anxiety When Meeting New People
You may get nervous about meeting new people. Many people feel this way when meeting people they dont know. The good news is that there are ways to feel calmer and more prepared.
Sometimes, just thinking about meeting new people can cause physical symptoms of anxiety. Focusing on these symptoms can worsen them. By helping your body to relax, you can lessen your anxiety.
One way to relax is by practicing calm breathing exercises that help you focus on your breathing, rather than allowing your thoughts to race.
Try this breathing exercise:
Sit down in a quiet place, and picture a peaceful setting. It may be a beach on a warm summer day, or you may be sitting by a brook in the woods.
Imagine that youre really there listen to the sounds. Feel the sunshine on your skin and the sand between your toes.
Bring your focus to your breathing. Slowly take a deep breath in through your nose as you count to five.
Feel the air filling your lungs and belly.
Then, slowly exhale through your mouth.
Focus on the air leaving your stomach.
Then, feel the air leaving your lungs.
Repeat this exercise a few times.
Each time you exhale, feel the tension leaving your body.
There are other ways you can prepare ahead of time to help you feel more confident. Plan a list of two or three questions or topics to bring up with new people you meet. You can even write these down so you have a reminder.
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Alternative And Complementary Therapies
Various herbal supplements have been studied as treatments for anxiety, with mixed results, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Supplements such as kava and valerian increase the risk of serious liver damage. Others, such as passionflower or theanine, may have a calming effect, but theyre often combined with other products, so their effectiveness on their own remains unclear. Talk to your doctor before taking any herbal remedies or supplements to make sure theyre safe for you and wont interact with any medications you take.
Healthy lifestyle changes may help reduce the frequency of social anxiety attacks, including exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and having regularly scheduled meals. Reducing or avoiding the use of caffeine, some over-the-counter cold medicines, and other stimulants may also be beneficial. Joining a support group may also reduce the stress of having social anxiety.
The following tips may also help you avoid triggering your social anxiety symptoms:
- Learn stress reduction skills
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Socialize with people you feel comfortable being around
Can You Be A Socially Anxious Introvert
Introversion, in basic terms, means that you tend to feel drained by too much social interaction and need to take time for yourself to restore your energy.
Feeling drained by social interaction isnt the same as feeling anxious about it, and introversion doesnt automatically translate to social anxiety.
As an introvert, you might feel just fine about spending time with others as long as you have enough energy, you can leave whenever you need to, and the setting isnt too crowded or overwhelming.
But what if you dont just need time alone to recharge? What if you also favor your own company because you frequently worry about how others perceive you? Perhaps one of these scenarios sounds familiar:
- When you dont hear back from a friend right away, you start to worry that youve done something to annoy them and begin reviewing your last few interactions.
- During meetings at work, you sit quietly in the back corner, hoping to escape notice. Your heart pounds, your palms sweat, and youre sure everyone can see how flushed your face is.
Keep in mind that introversion and its counterpart, extroversion, exist on a spectrum. As an introvert, you fall closer to one end, but that doesnt mean you avoid people entirely. Most introverts enjoy spending time with friends, particularly those friends who understand their boundaries in social interactions and need for alone time.
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Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
This online resource, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , helps you locate mental health treatment facilities and programs. Find a facility in your state by searching SAMHSAs online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. For additional resources, visit NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.
Characteristics Of Social Anxiety
Common characteristics of social anxiety include:
- Persistent fear about embarrassing yourself in front of others
- Avoiding situations where you worry about being judged
- Fearing that others will notice your anxiety
- Avoiding situations where you may be the center of attention
- Expecting to fail or be humiliated in social interactions
- Excessively analyzing your performance after a social interaction
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Diagnosis Of Social Anxiety Disorder
It is possible to feel anxiety in social situations without necessarily having social anxiety disorder. If you find your anxiety is difficult to manage, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. But to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists the following symptoms :
Psychologists use this symptom checklist to determine whether or not you would qualify for a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. The official diagnosis is only made if the symptoms have been present for longer than 6 months and are not being caused by any other factors .
Feel Comfortable In Your Skin
Its difficult to be comfortable around other people when youre not comfortable in your skin. Thats why one way to tackle social anxiety is to feel great in what youre wearing. Here are some tips:
- Choose outfits you feel comfortable in. The way you dress influences the way you think. So if you choose an outfit that makes you feel beautiful, youre more confident in navigating a social situation.
- Take care of your body. Knowing that youre on your way to a stronger, healthier version of yourself will improve your self-image. So work on building healthy habits, too.
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How I Manage My Social Anxiety At Work
Do you feel like youre constantly being observed and judged in social situations? This debilitating feeling is called social anxiety and one in 14 people in the world deal with it. In this personal essay, Ascend editor Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar speaks with psychologist Ellen Hendriksen to understand what social anxiety is and how to cope with it.
- Social anxiety is a mental health condition thats driven by fear and largely learned. Its maintained through behaviors that mimic hiding such as walking around your entire office building to avoid others on your way in or not raising your hand during class even when your grade depends on it.
- Managing social anxiety starts by taking a behavior-first approach to experiment with new ways of learning to be comfortable in social situations. To start, focus on listening to others without trying to respond to them. This will help you shift your attention outwards instead of looking inwards.
- In uncertain situations like office parties, create your own structure to give yourself a sense of control. For instance, pick three to four people that youd like to talk to and see how you feel about it during the party.
- Finally, be kind to yourself. When you feel embarrassed or anxious, imagine how you would treat someone in a similar situation. Try and stay reasonable and grounded while giving yourself some grace.
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