Need help to overcome social anxiety? Most individuals experience some degree of shyness from time to time. It is natural to feel uncomfortable or anxious in social situations such as going on a date, giving a presentation or at a job interview. People do get through these moments. However, some individuals might feel too nervous and the anxiety causes considerable distress.
Social anxiety (sometimes referred to as social phobia) is defined as the persistent fear of situations involving social interaction and social performance in which the fear interferes significantly in the person’s life.
Individuals suffering from social anxiety are more fearful of negative evaluation as they are concerned about looking foolish, making a bad impression on others, and otherwise being thought of badly. These individuals feel comfortable interacting with family members and a few close friends, but feel uncomfortable meeting new people, talking in a group, or speaking in public.
Elements associated with social anxiety include:
Physical symptoms: sweating, a racing heart, faster breathing, shaking, upset stomach, tingling sensations, and other physical symptoms of anxiety
Worrying thoughts: such as “they probably think I’m stupid/ I’m an idiot”, “What should I say?” “I won’t have anything to say,” “I’m going to make a fool of myself”, “They’re all going to laugh at me”, “Make eye contact,” “People will see how nervous I am,” “ What if I blush?”, “I may go blank”, “I don’t belong here” and so on.
Avoiding social situations: Due to anxiety, these individuals may avoid going out or interacting with people. They may avoid going to parties, making conversation, contributing at meetings, voicing opinions, public speaking, and so on.
Individuals who suffer social anxiety also avoid situations where they feel that others may watch them; such as eating, drinking, singing, or talking on the telephone. This anxiety interferes significantly in the person’s normal functioning. Avoiding social situations can interfere with career progress, or having social and intimate relationships.
Untreated social anxiety may lead to other problems such as depression, alcohol problems and benzodiazepine dependence.
Social anxiety is treatable. If you are suffering from social phobia and would like to live a normal life, seek professional help. At Amicus Counselling and Clinical Psychological Services, we provide evidence-based treatment such as cognitive behaviour therapy to help you overcome your anxiety.