Social anxiety is the third leading cause of anxiety in the world today, with millions of people struggling to cope and handle themselves during social situations.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19% of adults in the U.S. have anxiety in 2019, with higher prevalence in females by 23.4% than males, 14.3%.
Anxiety comes in different phases and varies depending on the individual. For instance, some individuals may be shy and introverted, while others experience bouts of paranoia and restlessness.
Social anxiety may stem from the difficulty in eating alone in a restaurant or simply attending a party or public function. These feelings are usually deeply rooted due to internal imbalances of societal expectations in an individual.
Causes of social anxiety
There are some significant causes of social anxiety:
Genetics plays a huge role in understanding the genetic composition of individuals with anxiety. A history of family members having anxiety opens up avenues for consequential members’ likelihood to have anxiety.
Studies show the likelihood of specific brain receptors influences the possibility of anxiety. For instance, the amygdala becomes more active in the presence of anxiety.
Traumatizing life experiences can change the trajectory of one’s life and make them susceptible to social anxiety. For instance, situations that make one feel judged or unappreciated may lead them to experience social anxiety.
Childhood upbringing can hamper feelings of anxiety from the negativity and feelings of hopelessness. This later transcends into adulthood which gives an individual a social anxiety problem.
Social anxiety is often mistaken for shyness. There are several signs and symptoms of social anxiety, which include the following:
There are some common physical symptoms of social anxiety that can be observed in individuals. These include shaking, sweatiness, shortness of breath, nausea, fainting, or increased heart rate. These symptoms can escalate and deem the individual incapacitated and unavailable to function well.
Social anxiety may cause an individual to evade some situations that they feel causes them discomfort. For instance, when invited to social problems, one might cancel or avoid attending them due to anxiety.
An individual may also find that they spend a lot of time getting ready in the hopes that they don’t have to go to social situations and have mental breaks when in the presence of people are also another symptom.
This helps divert the attention from the individual and makes them feel as if they are not there. Having little to no conversation tends to dissuade the individual’s attention, therefore, providing an avenue for handling social anxiety.
Social anxiety diagnosis
Consulting a credible and professional physician is the first step in handling social anxiety. A physical examination will be done to check whether there are any outward signs of social anxiety.
Afterward, an analysis of possible triggers and situations is done to find ways to come up with a suitable treatment plan. The treatment plan is structured depending on individual levels of anxiety and can therefore vary.
The availability of different treatment options has made it possible to treat social anxiety disorder. With the various options available, individuals can find ways to handle their anxiety and live everyday healthy lives.
Social anxiety is treatable and manageable using an array of treatments. It is advisable to seek consultation from a physician to advice on the possible treatment options. Treatment options for social anxiety include:
Social anxiety therapy takes around twelve or more sessions depending on the severity of anxiety by the individual. These therapy sessions help the patient gain confidence by finding skills and strategies on how to handle their anxiety.
This therapy consists of working with the patient, talking, and understanding some of the root causes of the problem that have enabled negative thoughts and patterns.
After this, there is training in social skills, etiquette, and maneuvering through a social crowd. Public speaking is also incorporated in the therapy sessions to help aid against anxiety through speaking.
Some severe cases of social anxiety may warrant the use of medication as a treatment option. The physician may administer some antidepressants, including serotonin, to calm down the effects of the anxiety.
The impact of the medication happens gradually and is best coupled with therapy. Continued use of the drug lessens the anxiety’s influence, with most individuals discarding them after some time.
The use of alternative medicine to treat anxiety through yoga or meditation is also every day. There is the use of herbal medicine has also sought to work wonders for some people.
Although no studies of their exact benefits are stated, these remedies are believed to help cushion against the possible effects of anxiety and provide a calming effect.