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.
The Difference Between Generalized And Specific Social Anxieties
There are two main types of social anxieties: general anxiety and specific social anxieties.
If youre suffering from generalized social anxiety, youre uncomfortable, nervous, and anxious in virtually all social situations regardless of what they are. On the other hand, if you have specific social anxiety, you might find that it relates to speaking in front of groups only, for instance.
Its most common to suffer from a generalized type of social anxiety, and this can be identified by feeling anxious, embarrassed, inferior, worried, and experiencing feelings of self-blame in many life situations.
Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness
Are you extremely afraid of being judged by others?
Are you very self-conscious in everyday social situations?
Do you avoid meeting new people?
If you have been feeling this way for at least six months and these feelings make it hard for you to do everyday taskssuch as talking to people at work or schoolyou may have a social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and your other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. But social anxiety disorder doesnt have to stop you from reaching your potential. Treatment can help you overcome your symptoms.
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The Relationship Between Video Games And Anxiety Isnt Set In Stone
You can weaken the relationship between video games and anxiety whether your anxiety comes from personality traits or an anxiety disorder like social anxiety. People often use games to escape their uncomfortable anxiety symptoms, so treating anxiety and the factors that contribute to it can be beneficial .
Try these tips for dealing with gaming and anxiety:
- Reality Breaks. When gaming, set your timer to take reality breaks. Pause and interact with someone in your real world. Spend some time talking to a family member, meet up with a friend for a bit, or even take a trip to a storejust something
- Become Grounded. Plant yourself in your physical world. Become fully connected to it. One way to do this is by taking a mindful walk outside or through your house. Go barefoot if youre comfortable doing so. Feel the ground, the air on your skin. Breathe deeply and notice smells. Take in sights. This quiets and soothes a brain that is overstimulated from both video games and anxiety.
- Therapy. Seeing a therapist can help both social anxiety and gaming addiction. Studies show that even treating one with therapy will improve both .
The connection between video games and anxiety is strong. Anxious personality traits and anxiety disorders, like social anxiety, team up to cause problems for people. You can take measures to weaken and even break the relationship between anxiety and video games.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
An anxiety disorder is like any other health problem that requires treatment. You cant will it away. Its not a matter of self-discipline or attitude. Researchers have made a lot of progress in the last few decades in treating mental health conditions. Your healthcare provider will tailor a treatment plan that works for you. Your plan may combine medication and psychotherapy.
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Find Out About Systematic Desensitization Or Exposure Therapy
It may seem like an intimidating concept initially. However, exposure therapy for social anxiety helps you overcome your specific fears. A therapist will usually conduct exposure therapy as part of a CBT treatment program, but this program can also be incorporated into your everyday life.
You may have gotten into the habit of avoiding your own specific social anxiety triggers. Although this may work in the short term, its not a practical way to live your life. Avoidance will only sustain your anxiety in the long term, so you need to teach yourself how to effectively handle your triggers.
As part of systematic desensitization, or exposure therapy, gradually introducing yourself to increasingly difficult situations helps you get to past your social anxiety. Youll need to practice staying in these situations until your fear subsides. A very positive aspect of this type of exposure training is you can practice the exercises in your imagination, as well as in real life.
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.
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What You Can Do
Before your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you’ve been experiencing, and for how long, including any symptoms that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
- Key personal information, especially any significant events or changes in your life shortly before your symptoms appeared
- Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you’ve been diagnosed
- Any medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you’re taking, including dosages
- Questions to ask your doctor or mental health professional
You may want to ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment, if possible, to help you remember key information.
Some questions to ask your doctor may include:
- What do you believe is causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- How will you determine my diagnosis?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- Are effective treatments available for this condition?
- With treatment, could I eventually be comfortable in the situations that make me so anxious now?
- Am I at increased risk of other mental health problems?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don’t hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
Diagnosing And Managing Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder consists of a marked and persistent fear of social situations where there is the potential for being negatively evaluated by others. Exposure to the feared situations will produce significant anxiety and distress, which will either be endured, or, where possible , avoided, both of which contribute to increasing future anxiety. This level of social anxiety generally interferes with social and occupational functioning, and commonly the person understands the fear is out of proportion to the event.
- Social anxiety disorder generally starts in early adolescence, and time to presentation can be upwards of 15 years, thus the social anxiety can be fairly entrenched, so it is really helpful if you can catch it early and get the person some timely therapeutic assistance.
- There can be frequent use of alcohol and drugs to manage symptoms and such usage may have reached problematic levels. If so, consider referral to Community Alcohol and Drug Services first for treatment of the alcohol and drug-related difficulties before commencing social anxiety treatment.
- Benzodiazepines are not recommended for the treatment of social anxiety.
- Cognitivebehaviour therapy is currently the treatment of choice for social anxiety disorder. This can be delivered by a trained individual therapist, and there are a number of online tools, books, and treatment manuals. The following are recommended:
- a workbook such as Shy no longer
- an online programme like This Way Up.
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Complications Of Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social phobia are at high risk for alcohol or other drug use, because they may wind up relying on substances to relax in social situations.
Social anxiety disorder can also lead to loneliness and social isolation.
Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can interfere with work, school, relationships, and enjoyment of life, per the Mayo Clinic.
It can also cause:
- Low academic and employment achievement
- Suicide or suicide attempts
Recovery Is Possible With Treatment
Recovery from an anxiety disorder is possible with the right treatment and support. Effective treatments for anxiety disorders may include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to change patterns of thinking, beliefs and behaviours that may trigger anxiety.
- Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing a person to situations that trigger anxiety using a fear hierarchy: this is called systematic desensitisation.
- Anxiety management and relaxation techniques for example deep muscle relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises and counselling.
- Medication this may include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
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Take A Test To See How You Feel
If youre unsure about the way you feel, take our anonymous online test to check whether your levels of stress, anxiety, or depression are within a healthy range, and see if one of our online courses could help.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety doesnt have one specific cause. It generally develops from a complex combination of a few different factors, like genes, personality, and early life experiences.
Research suggests that theres a genetic component to social anxiety disorder. There isnt a set selection of genes that have been shown to cause social anxiety. However, it does seem to run in families and having a family member with social anxiety increases your chance of having this disorder as well.
Peoples early life experiences also influence the development of social anxiety. Experiencing situations that impact your confidence at a young age can be a risk factor for social anxiety, like overly critical parenting, bullying, or being excluded from important social groups. However, social anxiety can also develop in people who didnt have any significant negative experiences growing up.
Personality factors also contribute to social anxiety. Social anxiety is more common in people who are naturally shy or introverted. Personality traits like being perfectionistic and self-critical, or being a worrier, can also lead to social anxiety.
How To Deal With Social Anxiety
What is CBT?
Excessive Fear Of Social Situations
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a feeling of extreme nervousness or fear in social situations. In order to be considered a disorder or phobia, social anxiety must interfere with daily living in school, at work, or in the community. This form of anxiety leads to distressing symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, pounding heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, and racing thoughts. For some people, social anxiety disorder can worsen until it controls a persons life. Treatment includes a type of psychotherapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy , with or without medication. Drugs used to help treat this disorder include antianxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.
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What Causes Social Anxiety Vs Social Anxiety Disorder
The causes of social anxiety and social anxiety disorder are the same. The difference is social anxiety disorder is more severe, so the causes are usually more intense or multi-layered.
Imagine someone who grew up in a mentally healthy environment and has a secure temperament. She inherited some social anxiety from her mother, but she didnt have any traumatic experiences that exacerbated it. Someone like this will most likely not develop social anxiety disorder.
Now think about someone who had an insecure attachment as a child and suffered abuse and bullying during teen years. On top of that his parents have social anxiety and raise him in a way that encourages socially anxious behavior. He is much more likely to have social anxiety disorder, not only social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder causes a lot of distress and can stop people from living a normal life. On the other hand, social anxiety is easier to manage. Everyone experiences at least a little bit of social anxiety as they meet new people and make changes in their lives.
Brain Areas Involved In Anxiety
- The brain stem
- The limbic system
- The prefrontal cortex
- The motor cortex
A study of blood flow in the brain published in 2001 found differences in the brains of social phobics when speaking in public. For this study, they used a type of neuroimaging called Positron Emission Tomography .
The PET images showed that people with social anxiety disorder had increased blood flow in their amygdala, a part of the limbic system associated with fear.
In contrast, the PET images of people without SAD showed increased blood flow to the cerebral cortex, an area associated with thinking and evaluation. It seems that or people with social anxiety disorder, the brain reacts to social situations differently than people without the disorder.
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Who Is At Risk For Anxiety Disorders
A mix of genetic and environmental factors can raise a persons risk for developing anxiety disorders. You may be at higher risk if you have or had:
- Certain personality traits, such as shyness or behavioral inhibition feeling uncomfortable with, and avoiding, unfamiliar people, situations or environments.
- Stressful or traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood.
- Family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Certain physical conditions, including thyroid problems and heart arrhythmias .
Anxiety disorders occur more often in women. Researchers are still studying why that happens. It may come from womens hormones, especially those that fluctuate throughout the month. The hormone testosterone may play a role, too men have more, and it may ease anxiety. Its also possible that women are less likely to seek treatment, so the anxiety worsens.
Understand The Definition Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety, also referred to as social phobia, is the intense fear of interacting with other people that makes you feel self-conscious and that youre being negatively evaluated and judged. These fears are both unreasonable and excessive, and they result in you experiencing physical symptoms and changes in behavior.
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