How To Find Help For Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety, as well as the other anxiety disorders, can be successfully treated. In seeking support for this problem, search for a specialist â someone who understands this problem well and knows from experience how to treat it.
Become an informed client and ask questions. For example, does the therapist understand that you feel very self-conscious and that others are watching and forming a negative evaluation about you? or do they minimize what youre saying and just say, âNo, No, No, youre fine â¦ youâre just exaggeratingâ¦.â or expect you to go out and do unreasonable âexposuresâ?
It is true that we who have lived through social anxiety do realize our mind is many times irrational and we over-exaggerate, but it still FEELS like others are watching and judging us. Our self-consciousness is a feeling and it is very real.
If your psychologist/mental health care worker does not understand this, you know more than they do about social anxiety. Under these circumstances, it is very doubtful they will be able to help you.
Also, remember that the professional should always welcome your questions. If someone seems unfriendly or too clinical, they should not be your choice of a therapist.
A Single Term With Many Meanings
There is more than one type of anxiety. That means that you can experience anxiety in many different ways, and the idea that it has a specific meaning is a false one. Those that feel anxiety all the time are said to have “generalized anxiety,” since the anxiety is fairly persistent and recurring. However, there are other types of anxiety as well:
- Panic Attacks Panic attacks are severe bursts of physical changes related to anxiety that resemble a heart attack. They have a mental component, and are almost entirely physical.
- Obsessions and Compulsions Obsessions are persistent thoughts that cause fear, followed by compulsions behavioral modifications and rituals that reduce some of the anxiety that happens with recurring thoughts.
- Phobias Phobias are intense anxieties that are related to a specific event. Rather than general anxiety, where the anxiety is caused by multiple issues, phobias are fears of specific subjects that cause intense anxiety reactions, like a fear of spiders.
These are just a few of the many different types of anxiety. People can also experience some variation of the above, or experience some physical symptoms more than others.
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When Does Anxiety Need Treatment
While anxiety can cause distress, it is not always a medical condition.
When an individual faces potentially harmful or worrying triggers, feelings of anxiety are not only normal but necessary for survival.
Since the earliest days of humanity, the approach of predators and incoming danger sets off alarms in the body and allows evasive action. These alarms become noticeable in the form of a raised heartbeat, sweating, and increased sensitivity to surroundings.
The danger causes a rush of adrenalin, a hormone and chemical messenger in the brain, which in turn triggers these anxious reactions in a process called the fight-or-flight response. This prepares humans to physically confront or flee any potential threats to safety.
For many people, running from larger animals and imminent danger is a less pressing concern than it would have been for early humans. Anxieties now revolve around work, money, family life, health, and other crucial issues that demand a persons attention without necessarily requiring the fight-or-flight reaction.
The nervous feeling before an important life event or during a difficult situation is a natural echo of the original fight-or-flight reaction. It can still be essential to survival anxiety about being hit by a car when crossing the street, for example, means that a person will instinctively look both ways to avoid danger.
Anxiety disorders now include the following diagnoses.
Possible causes include:
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How To Help Teens With Anxiety
Teenagers may have many reasons to be anxious. Tests, college visits, and first dates all pop up in these important years. But teenagers who feel anxious or experience symptoms of anxiety frequently may have an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety in teenagers may include nervousness, shyness, isolationist behaviors, and avoidance. Likewise, anxiety in teens may lead to unusual behaviors. They may act out, perform poorly in school, skip social events, and even engage in substance or alcohol use.
For some teens, depression may accompany anxiety. Diagnosing both conditions is important so that treatment can address the underlying issues and help relieve symptoms.
The most common treatments for anxiety in teenagers are talk therapy and medication. These treatments also help address depression symptoms.
Complementary And Alternative Therapies
Complementary and Alternative Therapies can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. There is a growing interest in these types of alternative therapies since they are non-invasive and can be useful to patients. They are typically not intended to replace conventional therapies but rather can be an adjunct therapy that can improve the overall quality of life of patients.
A collection of activities focused in which an individual consciously produces the relaxation response in their body. This response consists of slower breathing, resulting in lower blood pressure and overall feeling of well-being. These activities include: progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, and self-hypnosis and deep-breathing exercises.
A mind and body practice in which individuals are instructed to be mindful of thoughts, feelings and sensations in non-judgmental way. It has been shown to be useful in reducing the symptoms of psychological stress in patients with anxiety.
A mindfulness practice that combines meditation, physical postures, breathing exercises and a distinct philosophy. It has been shown to be useful in reducing some symptoms of anxiety and depression.
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How Generalised Anxiety Disorder Is Treated
GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms.
- medicine such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen.
Effective Therapy For Social Anxiety Disorder1
The good news is that cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety has been markedly successful. Research and clinical evidence alike indicate that cognitive-behavioral therapy, which should be comprehensive in nature, produces permanent changes in the lives of people.
Social anxiety disorder can be overcome, although it takes both consistency and persistence. But, barring cognitive problems everyone can make progress against social anxiety using the appropriate type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
At The Social Anxiety Institute, we call cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder “comprehensive” cognitive-behavioral therapy, to differentiate it from the general idea that cognitive concepts are simplistic and can be addressed by using only a few strategies.
A successful therapy program for social anxiety disorder must address the dozens of cognitive methods, strategies, and concepts that will allow people’s brains to literally change. The brain is continually learning, and irrational thoughts and beliefs can change as a result of this cognitive process.
A good therapy program will supply the necessary and specific strategies as well as indicate to people how and why they need to practice, work on, and begin to accept rational thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and perceptions.
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Recognizing The Disorder In Others
How do I recognize if someone close to me is having trouble with anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting more than 18% of the population. They are even more common among children, affecting an estimated 25% of children between the ages of 13 and 18. The most common anxiety disorders are Specific Phobias, affecting 8.7% of the population, and Social Anxiety, affecting 6.8% of the population.
You likely know someone with an anxiety disorder.
Although there are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with unique features, there are some common symptoms that might be a clue that someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder:
Please note that it is not a good idea to attempt to diagnose or label a friend or family member. Only a mental health professional can diagnose an anxiety disorder, as many disorders have overlapping features, and can go together with other types of mental health difficulties. However, if you notice signs of anxiety, or just feel that something is not quite right with someone that you care about, it’s a good idea to reach out to ask the person how they are feeling. You could start with something neutral and supportive like, “It seems like you haven’t been quite yourself lately. Is there something going on that you want to talk about?”
What can I do to help a family member or a close friend with anxiety?
It may also be helpful to:
What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders
The different types of anxiety disorders can display different symptoms, but more often than not, they have a combination of:
- Anxious thoughts that are difficult to control
- Changes in behavior, such as avoiding activities that you once enjoyed
- Physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling, chest pain, unexplained aches and pains, shortness of breath, and dizziness
- Poor sleep
- Inability to concentrate
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Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented
You cant prevent anxiety disorders. But you can take steps to control or reduce your symptoms:
- Check out medications: Talk to a healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies. Some of these contain chemicals that may make anxiety symptoms worse.
- Limit caffeine: Stop or limit how much caffeine you consume, including coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
- Live a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Seek help: Get counseling and support if you experienced a traumatic or disturbing event. Doing so can help prevent anxiety and other unpleasant feelings from disrupting your life.
Are There Tests That Diagnose Anxiety
A single test cant diagnose anxiety. Instead, an anxiety diagnosis requires a lengthy process of physical examinations, mental health evaluations, and psychological questionnaires.
Some doctors may conduct a physical exam, including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to symptoms youre experiencing.
Several anxiety tests and scales are also used to help your doctor assess the level of anxiety youre experiencing. Reach about each of these tests.
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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
As a human being, there are always risks that put your life in danger. Most people are lucky enough to avoid these dangers and live a nice and safe life. But in some cases, you may experience a life trauma Ã¢ either physically or emotionally Ã¢ and this can cause an anxiety problem known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
As the name implies, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that comes after the traumatic event has occurred. Those living with PTSD often must get outside help, because PTSD can affect people for years after the event occurs Ã¢ possibly even for the rest of their life.
PTSD affects people both psychologically and physically. In most cases, the person with PTSD is the one that experienced the traumatic event, but itâs possible to get PTSD by simply witnessing an event or injury, or even simply discovering that someone close to you dealt with a traumatic event.
You may also experience severe âwhat ifâ scenarios everywhere you go, including disaster thinking or feeling helpless/hopeless in public situations. Many of those with PTSD also experience avoidance behaviors of events, things, and even people that may remind them of the event Ã¢ even if there is no link between these issues and the trauma.
Those with post-traumatic stress disorder may be at a greater baseline of stress on most days. They may be short-tempered or easy to anger. They may be startled/frightened easily or be unable to sleep. PTSD can be a difficult problem to live with.
The Difference Between Feeling Anxious And Having An Anxiety Disorder
There are many similarities between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder. Both experiences can lead to feelings of nervousness, fear, worry, and also cause trembling.
However, if those feelings are overwhelming, unmanageable, and negatively affect your quality of life, then you may have an anxiety disorder.
Unlike typical feelings of anxiousness, anxiety disorder symptoms:
Can come up suddenly or in response to a stressful situation
Irrational thinking can take over
Can last for a long time, even after the problem that caused it is no longer relevant
Can cause you to avoid doing certain things due to fear of triggering anxiety symptoms
On the other hand, normal anxiety is associated with a specific problem, goes away when that problem is resolved, and causes realistic responses to the problem.
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How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders
Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
- Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
- Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.
How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Children
Its normal for children to feel some amount of anxiety, worry or fear at certain points. For example, a child may feel scared of a thunderstorm or barking dog. A teenager might get anxious about an upcoming test or school dance.
But sometimes, children approach these situations with overwhelming dread or they cant stop thinking about all the fears tied to one of these events. It may seem that none of your comforts help. These children often get stuck on their worries. They have a hard time doing their daily activities, like going to school, playing and falling asleep. Theyre extremely reluctant to try something new.
When thinking about your childs anxiety levels, getting stuck is key. It separates the regular worries of childhood from an anxiety disorder that needs professional help. If the anxiety or worry interferes with your childs ability to function, it may be time to seek help
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