The defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social. Social anxiety disorder (formerly termed "social phobia") is a much more common problem than past estimates have led us to believe. Millions of people all over. Social anxiety disorder is often confused with shyness. Here's how to tell the difference between everyday nervousness and one of the most.
Some experts think that it might be due to people getting stuck at the normal stage of shyness that all children go through between the ages of three and seven.
Certain thoughts tend to kick in when you enter a social situation and will make you anxious. They make you think about — and criticise - your behaviour from moment to moment. Such thoughts are so automatic that they feel true to you — although there is often no evidence for them at all. Ths is almost certainly very different from the way that people actually do see you. There are several ways of helping people with social phobia. It will be easier to do these things with one of the many self-help books that deal with social phobia — see the reading list at the end of this leaflet.
You can practice with other people and do what is called 'feedback' - people watch themselves practising on video to get an idea of what they are doing and how they appear to other people. We know that, even if you are very frightened in a particular situation, your anxiety will start to go away after a while. This approach helps you to do this for yourself, one step at a time. You make a list of all the situations that you find frightening, and then put them in order, from the least frightening to the most frightening.
You start with the least frightening situation and, with the support of your therapist, keep yourself there until you stop feeling anxious. You then move on to the next one and so tackle these frightening situations one by one. It is done in stages, each time making the situation a little more intense and frightening.
Social phobia is tied up very closely with the thoughts that you have about yourself, the world and the people around you - we can make ourselves anxious by the way that we think about things. For example, take the situation when a conversation dries up.
In CBT, the therapist will try to help you to be aware that it is just as likely that the other person has run out of things to say. This is a more realistic and less worrying way of thinking about the situation. The therapist will help you to test these ideas out in your day to day life. You can then start to focus on how other people are actually reacting to you, rather than your imaginary version of how they are.
This sort of treatment is usually given by one therapist for each client. If the problem is very severe, or if you are unable to get out of the house, it can be given as an in-patient or as a day patient in hospital. The newer antidepressants SSRIs - Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors have been found to be helpful in social phobia, but may sometimes cause headaches and dizziness in the first few weeks.
They usually start to work within 6 weeks, but can take up to 12 weeks to have their full effect. If the symptoms of social phobia get better, the dose can be slowly reduced over several months. They tend to lower the blood pressure which can make you feel faint. Some cough medicines that can be bought at the chemist also produce similar reactions to these foods. These don't seem to produce the above reactions, and so people taking them can eat what they like.
Other types of antidepressants don't seem to work very well in social phobia. These drugs are usually used to treat high blood pressure. In a low dose, they control the physical shaking of anxiety - which can be a symptom of social phobia - and can be taken shortly before meeting people or before speaking in public. Drugs like Valium were used in the past to treat all sorts of anxiety. We now know that they are addictive and that they do not help in the long run.
I'm making a fool of myself , as they assume they are not coming across well. To make matters worse, after social situations, people often analyse their performance and assume they have performed poorly. When considering these factors, it is easy to see how unhelpful thoughts stop people overcoming their social anxiety. As mentioned earlier, socially anxious people tend avoid social contact whenever possible. If they cannot avoid it, they tend to try and escape it as quickly as possible.
Although this is a very understandable way of coping with social anxiety, it is actually one of the main reasons that people find it hard to overcome.
This is because by avoiding social situations, people stop themselves having positive experiences that could disprove some of their unhelpful thoughts. Furthermore, the longer someone avoids a social situation, the more daunting it becomes and it is increasingly difficult to face. Often, the only time that socially anxious people feel comfortable in social settings, is when they use what is known as 'safety behaviour'.
Examples of 'safety behaviours' include: Basically, a 'safety behaviour' is anything people do to try and make it easier to cope in social situations. Although such safety behaviours help people feel slightly better at the time, they are actually unhelpful strategies in the longer term. This is because, like avoidance, 'safety behaviours' stop people from having the opportunity to prove that they can cope well, without putting such precautions into place.
Instead 'safety behaviours' allow people to put their successes down to other factors e. Similarly, by remaining quiet during conversations, they never have the opportunity to show that they would have coped well had they became more involved.
As a result, people's confidence remains low and their social anxiety remains. A final point worth noting is that 'safety behaviours' can result in what is known as self fulfilling prophecies. For example, by staying quiet in social situations, people may come across as 'distant' and others may respond by making less of an effort. As a result, their beliefs that they can't mix well remain in place.
People who are socially anxious often spend a lot of time concentrating on their own bodily sensations during social interactions. Unfortunately, this too plays a part in keeping social anxiety going.
For example, people often spend time trying to judge whether they are sweating, stammering, shaking or blushing during social situations. Although they do so in the hope of being reassured that they are not noticeably anxious, this strategy actually just makes things much worse. This is because people tend to overestimate how visible their anxiety is and this of course makes them feel even more self conscious.
Also, by focusing on themselves, it means that they are not fully focusing on the conversations going on around them. This makes it more difficult to join in properly and strengthens their beliefs that they are no good in such situations. It is likely that a combination of these factors play a role in ensuring people's social anxiety continues. See overleaf for an illustration of how these factors can interact to keep our social anxiety going. I'm weird No-one likes me I'm not very funny.
When we are shy or socially anxious it is common for us to spend a lot of time thinking about the future and predicting what could go wrong, rather than just letting things be. In the end most of our predictions don't happen and we have wasted time and energy being worried and upset about them. You worry that you will go red, stammer, and that everyone will dislike you.
You assume that you will be the centre of attention and everyone will stare at you. These thoughts naturally make you anxious before you even arrive in a social situation. This means that you make assumptions about others' beliefs without having any real evidence to support them. He thinks I'm an idiot. They think I look ugly.
Such ways of thinking can soon lower our mood and self-esteem. When people are socially anxious or shy, they often take things to heart. Because a work colleague is quiet, you assume you have offended them and it is somehow your fault. You walk past a group who are laughing and assume the joke is at your expense. Based on one isolated incident you assume that all others will follow a similar pattern in the future. Because you believe that one presentation went badly, you assume all others will follow the same pattern, as opposed to seeing it as a one off.
It can be particularly difficult for someone with social anxiety disorder to seek help, because seeing a mental health professional requires them to interact with someone in a social situation.
Try viewing your appointment with them as the first step in facing your fears. It might be helpful to talk to someone you know, such as your GP, about options for support, or ask a friend or family member to come with you to your appointment. This can help if: What is social anxiety disorder? Signs of social anxiety disorder include: What causes social anxiety disorder? What treatments are available for social anxiety disorder? The most effective treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy CBT , which is based on: Change in thinking — e.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations. It's a common problem that usually starts during. Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear. Could you be suffering from social anxiety disorder (social phobia)? Take this social anxiety test if you feel worried or panicked in social.