Defining Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety Defined

Diagnosing social anxiety can be complex since the symptoms can be so diverse. This anxiety might manifest as a specific fear in some individuals, involving drinking and eating. Some individuals experience anxiety when writing and speaking around others or before a group. Another symptom is fear of public restrooms and difficulty using them. More extreme cases cause the sufferers to experience anxiety and fear regardless of the social situation, preventing these individuals from ever being able to relax and enjoy events involving other people.

For those with social anxiety, the seemingly mundane and boring regular routines engaged in by the majority of people are a source of terror and constant preoccupation to the anxiety suffer. This terror can leave him or her too paralyzed with fear to act or perform necessary daily functions. The condition can result in the inability to get to work or attend school because of the irrational dread of being noticed or observed. With these symptoms the person is usually incapable of forming any normal, comfortable relationship with another person because they not only cannot comfortably meet people, they cannot interact and enjoy activities with friends. Only a very understanding and patient friend can handle these kinds of symptoms that severely limit what a person can tolerate doing without experiencing anxiety. Typical physical symptoms that an observer might notice are:

– Frequent blushing when interacting in groups of people
– Perspiring heavily due to anxiety, even though the temperature is cool and comfortable
– Actually developing shaky hands or body when having to deal with another person who has addressed or approached him or her.
– Nausea or even vomiting due to unrelieved anxiety
– Inability to speak without great effort

Social anxiety is not rare-around 5.3 million adult Americans have this disorder and it afflicts men and women equally. The condition usually starts to affect the person when still a child or as she enters her teenage years. Some experts feel there may be a genetic component to developing this social phobia, making close family members of a sufferer more susceptible to also having social anxiety problems.

The symptoms of social anxiety can be so stressful and debilitating those persons frequently start self-medicating to alleviate their symptoms. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs – both over-the-counter and uncontrolled substances–are often the symptom-relievers of choice, frequently leading to their abuse. Addictions compound the problems of social anxiety. Sufferers should not try to handle this condition on their own. Professional help of a doctor and psychotherapist can diagnose the condition and medical professionals can prescribe medications that will be truly effective without exacerbating the problem.



Living With Social Anxiety

The Social Anxiety Experience

Social anxiety is a problem that can affect millions of people around the globe. It can be transient, due to significant events in a person’s life, or can be a chronic problem that can can have a crippling effect on the lives of those it touches. The symptoms can vary widely from one person to the next, so it is not always easy to diagnose. Anyone who experiences unbearable feelings of extreme anxiety or panic when in a social setting may have social anxiety disorder. They would be well advised to consult with a doctor, as proper treatment can successfully rid them of the feelings of paralyzing fear and lead them back to a normal, happy life.

Social anxiety disorder can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms include feelings of fear that may seem to be irrational or unwarranted for the situation. Whereas it is not uncommon for most people to experience a bit of anxiety from time to time when faced with social events or unfamiliar surroundings, the feelings associated with social anxiety disorder can be extreme and consistent. Sufferers can experience strong sensations of fear regarding their behavior or the perceptions other people may have of them, worrying that  they may make mistakes, humiliate themselves, be overly flawed or be harshly judged by others. These fears can lead to heart palpitations, trembling, excessive blushing, perspiration, nausea, dizziness and speech problems.

Bashfulness or inherent shyness should not be confused with social anxiety. Shyness may feel uncomfortable, but is not debilitating in the same way as anxiety can be. Panic attacks related to social anxiety disorder can result in physical disablement, often preventing a person from movement. It can have a profound effect on a person’s life, limiting the ability to hold down a job or interact with other people.

Although it can affect anyone, social anxiety disorder is frequently experienced in conjunction with other problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many sufferers exacerbate the problem by self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. The only truly effective way to achieve long-term successful relief is to seek professional help. A competent physician can help a patient obtain the right treatment, streamlined for his or her specific situation. Some of the varied treatments include cognitive and behavioral therapy, medication, counseling and meditative practices designed to help increase self-awareness. This can promote the ability of the patient to achieve a sense of calm and learn to deal with social situations in a controlled setting. By working together, the doctor and patient can find the most effective method of reclaiming a happy and productive life without the constraints of anxiety.