Recognizing Social Anxiety and What to Do About It

Living life with social anxiety can be difficult and stressful. How do you know if you have social anxiety, and what can you do about it? Understanding your anxiety is the first step to a happier, stress-free lifestyle.

What Does Social Anxiety Look Like?

Feeling nervous and shy are common feelings in children and adults alike and don’t necessarily indicate social anxiety. When an individual has social anxiety, they experience genuine fear and anxiety that lead to avoiding interaction with other people and public spaces. This avoidance can result in poor relationships, missed time at work, and interruption in daily routines and activities.

Some signs and symptoms of social anxiety include but are not limited to the following:

  • Fear of being judged publically
  • Constant worry of humiliation and embarrassment
  • Fear of interacting with strangers
  • Physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, and a shaky voice
  • Expecting worst-case scenarios in public interactions
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nauseous or upset stomach
  • Heart racing
  • Muscle tension

Social anxiety can be found anywhere from mid-teens through adulthood. A National Comorbidity Survey showed that an estimated 12.1% of U.S. adults had experienced social anxiety at some point in their lives. There are many forms of anxiety besides social anxiety. If the before-mentioned symptoms do not sound familiar, it is important to determine what form of anxiety you may have.

More Forms of Anxiety

While there are several forms of anxiety, the most common forms are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Chronic anxiety and tension with or without provocation
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions)
  • Panic disorder: Repetitive episodes of intense panic accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain and dizziness
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Severe anxiety disorder that is the result of a terrifying event in which extreme physical harm either occurred or was threatened

Anxiety in any capacity can be hard to cope with but identifying which anxiety you might have is important in taking the proper steps to manage and treat your anxiety,

How Can I Manage My Social Anxiety?

There are many methods you can try yourself prior to professional treatment. Developing a strong sense of self will help you to understand what circumstances may bring on your social anxiety. Break down the more difficult circumstances into smaller parts and work through them one step at a time.

Keeping a journal of your daily routine and activities is a great method that provides a written record to show any possible patterns in your social anxiety. Another at-home method for managing your social anxiety is utilizing breathing exercises. Practicing these calming breaths can aid in stress, anxiety, and panic, and these exercises can be done anywhere at any time.

When Do I Need to Seek Treatment?

If your social anxiety strongly impacts your day-to-day life, it may be time to contact your doctor for treatment. The good news is social anxiety is a widely known and acknowledged condition with several treatment options. Asking for help can be scary, but you are not alone, and your doctor is here to help you on this journey. Your doctor can guide you in the right direction and suggest the best treatment options to help you achieve a happier, stress-free life.

Treatment Options for Social Anxiety

While there are many treatment plans available, some options include:

Talk to your doctor to see which treatment option is the right one for you. Sometimes a combination of treatments is needed depending on the severity of your social anxiety.

Group Therapy for Social Anxiety: How Can It Help?

Once you have begun treatment, your doctor might suggest group therapy for your social anxiety. The addition of group therapy is effective in the overall treatment process of social anxiety. Group therapy is widely used for many conditions and provides its participants with many benefits. These benefits include but are not limited to the following:

  • Camaraderie:  Learning that you are not alone and that there are others with the same struggles as you can help eliminate isolation in managing your social anxiety.
  • Building confidence: With your new-found camaraderie, you can begin to feel more confident, knowing you’ve got people to lean on if you fall
  • Broaden perspective: Because of the group setting of group therapy, you will hear input from all participants and learn how they cope with their challenges.

As with any therapy session or treatment plan, group therapy is private, safe, and confidential for all participants, creating a positive and safe environment for managing and treating your social anxiety.

Achieve A Happier, Stress-Free Life

If your social anxiety is preventing you from doing the things you want to do and impacting your life, then reaching out for treatment is an important next step in your recovery journey. With the proper treatment and support, you can enjoy a life without being held back by your social anxiety.

Seeking professional help has been shown to drastically improve social anxiety cases, and Alter Behavioral Health can help. Our individual and group therapy programs provide a wonderful opportunity for growth and healing. Throughout the process, you will learn how to interpret your anxiety and what affects you. You have the chance to learn other perspectives and talk through the things that bother you. If you or a loved one struggles with social anxiety or another form of anxiety, it’s important to reach out for help. You are not alone. We care, and we want to help you. If you or a loved one is currently in need of help, then reach out today by calling us at (866) 691-4386.