If you experience social anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s much more common than you think and prevents people from interacting with others.
Although you might feel alone in struggles at times, social anxiety disorder affects 15 million adults in the United States. This translates to over 6% of the total U.S. population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
If untreated, a social anxiety disorder can interfere with your life substantially. Luckily, there is social anxiety disorder treatment available.
Read on to learn more about social anxiety treatment options!
Help Is Available: A Guide to Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Are you a shy person? The first step in treating social anxiety disorder is recognizing its symptoms and identifying if your problem meets criteria for this disorder.
Social anxiety is in the category of anxiety disorders. It is important to identify the exact symptoms you have in order to receive poroper care. For example, social anxiety disorder could be confusted with generalized anxiety disorder because people with social anxiety feel anxious and worried a lot. Why? Because we live in a world with other people so there are opportunities to have social interactions all the time. The difference is that for social anxiety sufferers, the anxiety is related to social situations in which the person believes that he or she could be judged negatively by others For people with generalized anxiety disorder, they worry about a multitude of problems, in various domains of their lives, not just about social interactions.
Social anxiety includes fears of speaking in public, eating or drinking around others, or the fear of crowds.
If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, you might notice some symptoms and signs.
Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
- physical symptoms, such as trembling, nausea, or sweating when in the presence of others
- avoiding social events or staying at home excessively
- worries about being evaluated in a negative way by others when in a social situation
- fears that others will find you boring, stupid, crazy, weak, or unlikeable
- excessive worry that others will not like you or reject you
- worry that others will notice that you are fearful or anxious in social situations
- recognize that your fear is excessive but feel you cannot change it
At its’ worst, social anxiety order can be debilitating. Untreated, social anxiety can leave people feeling quite isolated and lonely. The anxiety relief that one feels by avoiding interactions with others is so great that is winds up reinforcing the avoidance. And, the more you avoid opportunities to interact with others, the more difficult it feels each time that opportunity presents itself. So very quickly, people with social anxiety find themselves in a very dangerous spiral where they withdraw more and more. This can lead to impairments not only in your social life, but can also impair your ability to work, attend family functions, or interact with others so that you can set appointments, request help, or deal with personal matters. With the advent of the internet, people with social anxiety may have more options in terms of employment because they can work remotely from home but the flip side of this is that it allows them to stay in a very isolated position and never develop the skills to overcome their situation.
Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment Options
In order to best treat your anxiety symptoms, you might to utilize more than one type of intervention. Many people respond best to a combination of treatments for social anxiety.
Certain types of medication can help to curb your symptoms both immediately and long-term. Medications for anxiety include benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, and other types of medications.
If you are able to see a psychiatrist, this is best since they know which medications might be most helpful for you based on your particular combination of symptoms. The more information you provide to your doctor, the better able he or she will be in finding the right medications for you. There are a number of medication options available that provide significant assistance in reducing social anxiety.
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Some people may find that meditation and relaxation exercises provide relief for their social anxiety symptoms. The more you can reduce the physiological arousal that accompanies the fear and worry, the better able you will be to think through the situation and turn your mind to other, more positive thoughts. Once your body gets activated and you are experiencing the physiological “fight or flight” response, it is very difficult to think in a flexible, rational way. You are, at that point, in survival mode, and your brain will only focus on getting you to safety (even though you are technically, perfectly safe). So learning and practicing skills that allow you to calm down or clear your mind of thoughts that are not helpful will help you stay more regulated in these more challenging situations.
You might incorporate deep breathing and meditation techniques when you notice yourself becoming overwhelmed with anxiety. It can also be helpful to learn strategies that can be performed both before and during social settings.
If you find that your symptoms hit suddenly, you might have a plan in mind to escape to the restroom or your car to practice relaxation strategies. It is important though, that once you feel calmer that you go back into that social situation and try again. Once you have learned strategies that are effective for you, you might be able to extend the time you end in social situations by relying on this method.
Therapy is an essential part of treatment for social anxiety disorder, as well as other types of disorders. If social anxiety goes untreated, the individual can develop secondary depression or other anxieties that will also require treatment.
A professional therapist or counselor can help you clarify the nature of your problems and provide a correct diagnosis.
Therapists use a combination of talk therapy and other therapeutic methods to help patients cope with symptoms. Typically, social anxiety is treated with cognitive behavioral therapy because it has been shown to have in studies to help relieve the symptoms. In this type of therapy, the patient will work through a series of exercises of increasing difficulty that involve exposure to different social interactions. While this type of therapy can be difficult in the beginning, if you stick with it, it becomes much easier and the skills will start to generalize to other situations. With professional help, it’s possible that you can live a healthier, fuller life.
Sometimes people have experienced a traumatic incident that seems to have initiated the social anxiety. In this case, you may also have to do some trauma-related therapy in addition to the social anxiety work in order to achieve a more lasting result.
If you’re struggling from social anxiety disorder, I offer psychotherapy in Miami, FL.
Get Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment in Miami, FL
Could social anxiety disorder treatment be the answer you’re looking for? It’s time for you to start living and enjoying your relationships again.
Contact us today to learn how we might be able to help you close this chapter.
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment (all types including anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, and binge eating treatment) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar disorder treatment, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, and much more.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.