Social Anxiety: Symptoms and Treatment
Social Anxiety (also know as social phobia) is a very common anxiety disorder that causes significant and recurring fear in social settings. While it is not uncommon to have some anxiety before attending important social events, people with social anxiety experience debilitating degrees of anxiety which can cause significant distress and loss of daily functioning.
Social Anxiety Fears
- Fear of being judged negatively by others.
- Fear of being compared to and seen as “less than”, by others.
- Fear of demonstrating symptoms of anxiety (blushing, sweating, stammering, shaking etc).
- Fear of having a panic attack (or anxiety attack) in front of others.
- Fear of experiencing embarrassment in front of others.
Social Anxiety Symptoms and Compulsions
It is common for these fears to be so intense, people suffering social anxiety may demonstrate the below compulsive behaviors to reduce their anxiety:
- Avoidance of social events or situations.
- Avoidance of populated locations (malls, cinemas, parties etc).
- Avoidance of dating or intimacy.
- Mentally reviewing past conversations to ensure one did not say or do anything embarrassing.
- Asking family members or friends for reassurance to see if she/he did something inappropriate during social events.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety often co-exist with other related disorders such as Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Compulsive Skin Picking (Excoriation Disorder), Trichotillomania and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Treatment must be appropriately modified to address each of these disorders. If you have symptoms of one or more of these disorders, in addition to social anxiety, it is important you be assessed by a qualified professional to be sure your symptoms are treated correctly.
Social Anxiety Treatment and Therapy options
Social Anxiety is successfully treated using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness. Treatment involves, learning how to identify distorted thoughts and restructure them into more reasonable and rational thoughts. This is commonly called Cognitive Therapy. Treatment, also involves Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which is a component of Behavioral Therapy used to help clients to desensitize their fears. Using a hierarchy (created by the client), the client will slowly expose themselves to their fears and learn mindfulness tools to manage their anxiety and other emotions that they experience, instead of their compulsive behaviors.
Click here to read more about Mindfulness
If you have some or all of these symptoms and you feel that the above information describes you, see a qualified mental health professional for an assessment. Click here to contact Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT.