The fear of interacting with other people is caused by self-awareness and the feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated. As a result, the resistance to being in public places.
Social anxiety is a quasi-pathological fear of being judged and negatively evaluated by other people, thus developing feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, shame, humiliation, and depression.
If a person often feels (irrationally) anxious in social situations but seems better when alone, then “social anxiety” may be the problem.
The third most significant problem of mental health care.
Social anxiety disorder (formerly called ” social phobia “) is a much more common problem than past estimates have led us to believe.
Millions of people worldwide suffer from this devastating and traumatic condition, either from specific social anxiety or more generalized social anxiety.
In the United States, epidemiological studies have recently linked social anxiety disorder as the third largest psychological disorder in the country, after depression and alcoholism.
It is estimated that around 7% of the population suffers some form of social anxiety. The lifetime prevalence rate for developing social anxiety disorder is 13-14%.
Specific and generalized social anxieties.
Specific social anxiety would be the fear of speaking in front of groups (only), while people with generalized social anxiety are anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable in almost all social situations.
It is much more common for people with social anxiety to have a generalized type of this disorder.
When anticipatory anxiety, worry, indecision, depression, shame, feelings of inferiority, and guilt are involved in most life situations, a generalized form of social anxiety is at work.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
People with social anxiety disorder often experience a significant emotional disturbance in the following situations:
- Be introduced to other people.
- Being bothered or criticized.
- Be in the limelight.
- Be watched while doing something.
- Meet people of authority (“important people”).
- Most social encounters, especially with strangers.
- Go through a room (or table) in a circle of people and have to say something.
- Interpersonal relationships, whether friendships or romantic.
This list is certainly not exhaustive or complete regarding the symptoms, as other feelings have also been associated with social anxiety.
The physiological manifestations that accompany social anxiety may include several images.
Namely: intense fear, accelerated heart, flushing, excessive sweating, dry throat and mouth, tremors (fear of drinking a glass of water or using utensils to eat), swallowing with difficulty, and muscular contractions, particularly around the face and neck.
The most common characteristic is constant and intense anxiety that does not go away.
People with a social anxiety disorder know that their anxiety is irrational and therefore has no rational sense; that is, cognitive. However, “knowing” something is not the same as “believing” and “feeling” something.
Thus, for people with social anxiety, thoughts and feelings of anxiety persist and show no signs of disappearing, even though socially anxious people “face their fears” every day.
Only the proper treatment works to alleviate the social anxiety disorder, the most significant anxiety disorder and the one that few know about.
Effective therapy for Social Anxiety disorder
The good news is that cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety has been remarkably successful.
Both research and clinical evidence indicate that cognitive-behavioral therapy, which must be comprehensive, produces permanent changes in people’s lives.
Social anxiety disorder can be overcome, although consistency and persistence are needed.
But, barring cognitive problems (e.g., dementia, Alzheimer’s disease), everyone can progress against social anxiety using the appropriate cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is applied to “integral” social anxiety disorder to differentiate it from the general idea that cognitive concepts are simplistic and can be approached with only a few strategies.
A successful therapy program for a social anxiety disorder should address dozens of cognitive methods, strategies, and concepts that will allow people’s brains (i.e., their brain associations or neural pathways) to change.
The brain is continuously learning, and irrational thoughts and beliefs can change due to this cognitive process.
A good therapy program will provide the necessary and specific strategies; in the same way, it will indicate to the patient how and why they need to practice, work, and accept rational thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and perceptions.
The essential elements to overcome social anxiety are:
- An understanding and awareness of the problem,
- A commitment to carry out cognitive-behavioral therapy even when it is repetitive and seems complicated,
- Practice, practice, practice to obtain that information (i.e., cognitive methods, strategies, and concepts) at the bottom of the brain – for these cognitive methods to become habitual and automatic,
- Participation in a social anxiety therapy group where you can work slowly and gradually on problems that cause anxiety in the real world.
The person who feels anxious while reading in public uses specific strategies to meet their goal.
While the person who wants to learn to make presentations and participate in small talks during social activities slowly works towards their goals.
These therapies are used:
- role-playing games
- performance, recorder and video camera,
- periods of questions and answers,
- mock job interviews.
- And doing silly things deliberately as part of a behavioral therapy group for people with social anxiety.