If you start to feel extremly anxious, displaying signs of nerves every time you have to attend a public event, you are not alone. Social anxiety disorder affects millions of people around the world. In fact after after drug abuse and depression, it is the next most common mental disorder.
Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
There are mild cases of this and there are much more severe cases, where it is difficult to even leave the house. There is also a difference between people who are shy and nervous to stand up and give a talk in class or in a meeting, and those who have to mingle with others at a social event.
The symptoms to look out for
- anxiety and avoidance of social situations
- more severe physical symptoms like a racing heart beat, sweating and trembling.
- most people don't like talking on the telephone, especially in public.
- a lot of people think they are being watched by strangers, and are constantly thinking what others are thinking of them.
- they fear being the center of attention
- some people even fear drinking or eating in public.
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As a child, you would probably fear being called on for an answer from the teacher. As an adult, you avoid going out to lunch with your colleagues. You will probably pretend that you are working on an important project. You will stress out when it came time to attend a staff meeting, especially when you know that contribution is expected of you.
Most of the time, this is left untreated, and it will affect one on a daily basis during school and work. People with this disorder also struggle with relationships. Most of the time, people don't even realize they have the condition, but the sooner it is treated the better.
What are the Causes?
- Genetics - children develop traits from parents, such as shyness. It has also been said that parents who are more critical or overprotective will also develop this type of anxiety.
- Social experiences - kids who had bad experiences are more likely to develop social anxiety. This could include neglect by their peers or bullying. Often this starts in the teenage years, but it could also start later than that.
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Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment
There are many different treatment options available here. Some people go through the whole range, and still don't feel completely comfortable. However, since new treatments have hit the market, one can definitely see the improvements, and even if one does not fully recover, someone with the disorder will feel a lot better than before.
It is also important to remember that the patient has to play his or her part. Nothing is going to happen overnight and there is no magic wand that any psychologist can wave, which will improve the condition.
Treatment options available:
- Social Anxiety Medication - different medication is available which will be prescribed by a psychiatrist, depending on the severity of the condition. Usually this is an anti - depressant. One can also take something which which will help with the physical symptoms, such as the racing heart beat, and this will just calm you down.
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- Psychotherapy - talking to a psychologist or a therapist who is trained to deal with social anxiety is helpful. However,some people will argue whether it is worth paying someone to listen to your problems. This is why you have to search around for someone who is going to do you some good.
- Cognitive Restructuring - CBT is where the therapist will work with the patient at working on the negative thoughts that have been built up in their mind. They will help them change those thought patterns around. Since this form of therapy was developed, great improvements have been seen.
Where to Start
If you feel like you have any of these symptoms, make sure you get diagnosed first of all. They may give you a social anxiety test - find out where to go from your family doctor. You may feel you want to put this off, but if you don't make this a priority then your life is going to be affected.
The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale test is the best and most acurate way of testing yourself to find out how badly affected you may be. This isn't just another internet test, but it was designed by a qualified and experienced psychiatrist, who also specilializes in the research of this condition. You can find out if you have this on a moderate level, or whether it is more severe, in which case you should seek treatment.
Talk to your doctor about your findings before you think this is the end of the world and about whether you should find a psychologist. You could also find out through the American psychological association. The person that you go to should be qualified and trained in this area. Ask them about their patients and the recovery rate.
You can go to someone every week, but you also have to do the homework. You have to ask yourself if you want to improve, and that is the bottom line.
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