It’s normal to feel nervous in some social situations like going on a date or giving a presentation. However, for people with social anxiety everyday social interactions can be really difficult and lead to intense fear, anxiety and avoidance of daily activities or routines. Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is one of the most common mental health difficulties, so if you have it, there’s hope. The tough part is being able to ask for help. Here’s how to know if your social silence has gone beyond shyness to a point where you need support.
Some social situations that people with social anxiety might find very difficult or avoid are:
- Interacting with new people
- Attending parties or gatherings
- Starting conversations
- Making eye contact
- Eating in public or in front of others
- Going into work or school
- Going into stores or shops
Some of these circumstances may not cause a problem for you, for example, giving a speech may be okay, but going to a party might be terrifying. Or you could be good at one-on-one conversations but not at speaking within group setting.
All socially anxious people have different reasons for being anxious about certain situations. However, in general social anxiety can arise due to an overpowering fear of:
- Being judged by others in social situations
- Being embarrassed or humiliated — and showing it by blushing, sweating, or shaking
- Accidentally offending someone
- Being the centre of attention
Some physical signs of social anxiety when in difficult social situations might include:
- Fast heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Feeling that your mind has gone blank
The feeling of anxiety can arise just before an event or it can start weeks before the event, resulting in you spending considerable amount of time worrying about the event beforehand. Afterward, you could spend a lot time and energy fretting about how you acted and what you said or did.
Social anxiety stops you from living your life the way you would like to. When you avoid all or most social situations, it affects your personal relationships, and it can also result in low self-esteem, negative thoughts, depression and sensitivity to criticism.
The good news is that social anxiety can be worked through. You deserve to be able to enjoy life and live it on your terms. Psychotherapy has shown to be able to help individuals reduce social anxiety, increase confidence, and improve self-esteem. Contact us today to book your initial consultation and take back control of your life. Psychotherapy available online and face to face.
Online course on social anxiety and how to manage it coming soon!