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What is Social Anxiety Disorder

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Social Anxiety Disorder is described as “the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by others, leading to feelings of inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.” Someone coping with Social Anxiety Disorder feel very nervous and uncomfortable in social situations such as:

  • Being introduced to other people
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Meeting people in authority (“important people”)Most social encounters, especially with strangers
  • Going around the room (or table) in a circle and having to say something
  • Interpersonal relationships, whether friendships or romantic

Those with social anxiety disorder often feel as if they’ll do or say something wrong. When faced with certain social situations, someone with a social anxiety disorder may experience a panic attack, or feel some physical signs of anxiety. Stomach Ache, Blushing, Sweating, Shaking, Muscle tension, Irritability, Feeling detached from one’s body (derealization).

Social Anxiety Disorder can have a very strong impact on one’s quality of life. Some may steer clear of certain careers and/or fields of study, avoid spending time with their friends, and end up skipping many days of school.

  • School refusal
  • Avoiding participating in new activities or going places
  • Asking a parent to be present or available
  • Declining invitations to social events
  • Not answering in class
  • Crying or tantruming
  • Refusing to go on a ‘playdate’ without a parent
  • Mumbling or poor eye contact
  • Staying home on weekends rather than hanging out with friends

Types

Those suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder usually experience ‘specific’ or ‘generalized’ variations of the condition.

These are largely self explanatory; a specific social anxiety would be a fear of presenting to a class (and only that), and those experiencing generalized social anxiety are anxious, nervous, and overall uncomfortable in almost all social situations.

Most commonly people will experience generalized social anxiety as opposed to specific social anxiety, as most feelings of worry can be applied to a multitude of different social interactions.

Causes

Some possible causes of Social Anxiety Disorder are as follows;

Inherited traits: It has been observed that anxiety disorders tend to run in families. However, it isn’t completely clear just how much of this is due to genetics, and how much is due to learned behavior.

Brain structure: The structure in the brain we’re all now familiar with called the amygdala plays a role in controlling fear responses. People who have a hyperactive amygdala could have a more intense fear response, causing anxiety in a variety of social situations.

Environment: Social Anxiety Disorder can be a learned behavior; some people could develop the condition because of an unpleasant or embarrassing social situation. There could also be a connection between a child’s Social Anxiety Disorder and their parents who either express anxious behavior or are more controlling or overprotective of their children; causing the child to have less self confidence as well as less exercise in social intelligence.

Video by Anxiety BC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypHzXOcUQwE Prevention While predicting what experiences or situations will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder is extremely difficult, there are steps you can take to reduce the impact of some symptoms if you’re feeling anxious. Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of your personal life, and it can help you convey to your doctor or therapist what is causing you stress, and what seems to help you feel better. Always remember to try to find help early. Very much like other mental health conditions, Social Anxiety Disorder can become more difficult to treat the longer you wait.

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