As Lindsay Conner described, "God has not cured my anxiety, but he is taught me how to manage my life in a way that promotes balance, hope, and trust." Such an outcome is possible for you, too.
If you live in constant fear of receiving a party invitation, participating in a meeting, going to church, or even eating in public, you could be suffering from social anxiety (SA). SA is a debilitating disorder that affects over five million people. Sufferers of this condition are afraid of being humiliated, embarrassed and judged. They dread social situations, public speaking and any situation where they have to perform in some way. Thankfully, SA does not have to be permanently debilitating. As Lindsay Conner described, "God has not cured my anxiety, but he is taught me how to manage my life in a way that promotes balance, hope, and trust." Such an outcome is possible for you, too.
Social anxiety impacts all aspects of life and causes many to live with self-imposed limits. People with SA will do anything to avoid a social situation that causes them distress. Some people have had the anxiety disorder their entire life. Others develop it in their teens or as adults. Sometimes it is triggered by an humiliating event such as being criticized about a speech by a teacher in front of the whole class.
There are also varying degrees of it. Some people have a fear of public speaking, but do well in other social situations. These people suffer from a specific type of social anxiety. For those that have a severe case of it, various social situations will cause them distress. Also they can suffer from depression and other anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, too.
There are genetic and environmental factors that can contribute to the disorder. If you have a parent that has an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to be genetically predisposed to developing it. Children, also, will tend to model their parent's behavior . In households where children are vulnerable to a lot of verbal abuse and criticism, SA may develop under these circumstances.
A person with SA may sweat, shake, have diarrhea, and turn red when exposed to a social situation. These symptoms can make the SA even worse because you do not want people to know that you are nervous. It can take a lot of energy to hide this disorder from people. There are some SA sufferers who can get up and give speeches, interact with ease in social situations, but are actually dying inside. It is extremely difficult for them to participate in these types of activities.
Worry, negative and catastrophic thinking (blowing things out of proportion) are part of the reason why people have trouble with social anxiety. Anticipating an upcoming social event can cause an SA sufferer to be consumed in worry about what could happen. Many have lost a lot of sleep over such situations.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for the disorder. Often used with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, they can often help improve symptoms in SA patients. Getting the patient to recognize the patterns of their negative thinking and replacing it with more reasonable expectations is very beneficial. Also pairing that with exposure therapy to the fear-provoking situations is key to having a successful outcome.
Social anxiety interferes negatively on a person's life. It can prevent you from furthering your education or getting a promotion in your job. Living with this disorder can severely limit you. Fortunately, there are things you can do that will help you to function and enjoy a more social life.