What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder characterised by intense fear or anxiety in social situations. People with social anxiety may fear being judged or scrutinised by others and may avoid social situations or endure them with significant distress and unhelpful coping strategies.
What causes social anxiety?
Causes of social anxiety are not fully understood, but genetics and life experiences typically play a role. People who have a family history of anxiety disorders may be more likely to develop social anxiety, and certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin, may contribute to the development of social anxiety. Negative life experiences, such as bullying, rejection, or traumatic events, may also increase the risk of developing social anxiety.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of social anxiety may include physical sensations such as sweating, trembling, or a rapid heartbeat, as well as psychological symptoms such as fear of being embarrassed or humiliated, fear of public speaking, or fear of eating, drinking, or being in public. These symptoms can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function in social situations, and can lead to isolation, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and depression.
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How does Social anxiety affect everyday tasks?
1. Communication: Difficulty in initiating or maintaining conversations, making phone calls, or sending emails due to fear of judgment or criticism.
2. Work/School: Impaired performance in meetings, presentations, or group projects, leading to decreased productivity and academic achievements.
3. Routine Errands: Avoidance of public places like grocery stores or cafes, making it challenging to complete everyday tasks.
4. Isolation: Withdrawal from social events and gatherings, leading to loneliness and strained relationships.
5. Physical Symptoms: Experiencing symptoms like sweating, trembling, or rapid heartbeat in social situations, which can be physically distressing.
6. Procrastination: Putting off tasks that involve social interaction, leading to increased stress and deadlines.
7. Negative Self-Image: Constant self-criticism and low self-esteem, affecting overall self-confidence.
8. Quality of Life: Social anxiety can significantly reduce one’s overall quality of life, making simple tasks feel overwhelming and isolating.
Do I have social anxiety?
You can use the questionnaire below to offer a notion on whether Social Anxiety is prevalent alongside measure severity. Click here to access a commonly used symptomatic questionnaire used in treatment by professionals
Please remember that a psychological assessment is needed to diagnose social anxiety. You can schedule an assessment with a social anxiety therapist by clicking here.
How to treat social anxiety?
Cognitive-Behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for social anxiety. In CBT, a Psychotherapist collaborates with the in-person to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves and their social interactions. The Psychotherapist may also teach the in-person relaxation techniques and other coping strategies for managing anxiety.
Exposure therapy is a specific type of CBT that is often used to treat social anxiety. In exposure response prevention (ERP) therapy, an individual is gradually exposed to social situations that trigger anxiety, starting with less intimidating situations and working up to more challenging ones. Sessions may also use role-playing or other techniques to help the in-person practice social skills and build confidence.
Research has shown that CBT including exposure therapy, is highly effective for treating social anxiety. Other treatments, such as Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) can also be utilised to improve levels of self-confidence.
If you feel that you, a friend or relative would like help to overcome social anxiety then please get in touch (London based anxiety therapist, in-person and online psychotherapy available) via email: email@example.com