We all have our own personality.
Some people are more sociable, others introverted… but there are those who suffer every time they have to face a social situation. Know what a social phobia is, when you are not shy, it is only difficult for you to live together.
We tend to divide people into two groups: extroverts who enjoy social gatherings, going out and meeting people… and introverts, more withdrawn, shy and who hang out with few people. But rarely do we think that behind someone who isolates himself or resists living together there is something more than being a “bleeder”.
What is a social phobia?
Social phobia, medically known as social anxiety disorder, is a type of anxiety disorder where people exhibit symptoms of anxiety or fear in some or all social situations: from meeting new people, to having a job interview, to answering questions. in class.
The National Library of Medicine of the United States describes it as a persistent and irrational fear of situations where those who suffer from it feel that they will be judged.
This condition can begin in adolescence and affects men and women equally.
According to specialists, it interferes in all kinds of social situations, even in those that seem everyday, such as interacting with a cashier in an establishment, eating in front of others or using a public bathroom, because it is the fear of being humiliated, judged and rejected prevails .
Although for the rest it seems something simple to overcome, those who live with this disorder feel such a strong fear that they do not feel able to control it, so it gets in the way of their ability to carry out different activities, even causing them to live worried about situations before that they occur.
However, one of the biggest problems associated with this disorder is the high risk of consuming alcohol or other drugs, considering it relaxing in social situations.
Why does it cause social anxiety?
There are different causes that have been associated with social anxiety disorder. According to specialists, sometimes it can be hereditary; Similarly, they have found that fear and anxiety involve different parts of the brain.
Other factors that can cause or worsen social anxiety, according to the National Institutes of Health, are:
- A misinterpretation of other people’s behavior, such as thinking that they are looking at you, even though they are not
- Not having well-developed social skills
- Overprotective parents or limited social opportunities
- Stress and environmental factors
What are the symptoms of social anxiety?
Most of us have felt uncomfortable in some social situations, likewise, there are more shy people, but it is not always a sign of anxiety.
But when it becomes intense beyond you and there is fear, anxiety and avoidance interfering with your life, it should not be ignored.
Mayo Clinic specialists explain that the symptoms of social anxiety disorder manifest as the persistence of:
- Fear of situations where you could be judged
- Distress over feeling embarrassed or humiliated
- Intense fear of interacting or talking to strangers
- Fear of being noticed that you are anxious
- Drop some activities or stop talking to some people
- Avoid situations where you are the center of attention
- Anxiety in moments before a situation that scares you
- Intense fear or anxiety in social situations
- Analyze how you acted in a social situation and identify flaws
- Expect the worst from a negative experience
- Physical symptoms such as: flushing, rapid heartbeat, shakiness, sweating, upset stomach or nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, feeling of having a blank mind, muscle tension
All this can lead to not only having a hard time interacting with unknown people, but also resisting or suffering if you have to: attend parties or social gatherings, make eye contact, a romantic date, enter a room with others sitting, return something in a store, even going to work or school.
Something that you should take into account is that the symptoms can change over time and increase in times of stress. Even if you avoid situations to avoid feeling anxiety, it can increase, so it is essential to treat it.
If left untreated, social anxiety disorder can become a problem that controls your life and interferes with work and personal aspects, preventing you from enjoying yourself. It also sometimes leads to substance abuse and even suicide attempts.
How to treat social anxiety disorder?
If social situations paralyze you and cause anxiety symptoms, it is important that you talk to your doctor, through an examination of your history and behavior, he can confirm the diagnosis and give treatment.
This usually consists of psychotherapy with cognitive-behavioral therapy, with the aim of teaching other ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to different situations, in order to reduce anxiety or fear.
Likewise, medications such as anxiolytics, antidepressants and beta-blockers may be prescribed, which must be taken according to the instructions of your doctor. Most cannot be left without medical advice.
Finally, support groups can also help, as can living a healthy lifestyle and learning ways to manage stress.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict or prevent an anxiety disorder. However, asking for help as soon as you show symptoms and avoiding the consumption of unhealthy substances is essential to attack the problem from the beginning.
Now that you know what a social phobia or social anxiety disorder is and that you are not just shy or “antisocial”, seek help to prevent the problem from escalating and interfering with your quality of life.