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Social anxiety disorder may also be called social phobia. The disorder is based on a real fear that either something terrible will happen when around others or that something embarrassing will happen. Social anxiety is often tied with feelings of low self-esteem or self-consciousness.

Many people suffering from social anxiety have an intense belief that they will embarrass themselves in some way when around other people. While this may not be something others consider often, a person with social anxiety will have an intense, crippling fear around this possibility.

While a person with social anxiety may recognize that their concerns are unreasonable compared to the circumstances, they will be unable to control their emotions. With social anxiety, a person may feel incredibly tense in any social situation, especially around unfamiliar situations.

What are the Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

A person with social anxiety will have an intense feeling of worry for days or weeks before a planned social event. This concern is something that they will be unable to control and can disrupt their focus or even prevent them from sleeping. They will often appear noticeably nervous or uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

Someone with social anxiety may go to extreme lengths to avoid situations that would make them uncomfortable. This could be avoiding parties or going as far as not taking job interviews or meeting new people that could improve their quality of life. It is essential to seek treatment for social anxiety before it becomes entirely disruptive to a person’s life.

When forced into social situations, a person suffering from social anxiety may experience several symptoms. Besides the feelings of fear and tension, people with social anxiety may sweat or shake when they are in a situation they are not comfortable with. They also may experience nausea, dizziness, and an elevated heart rate.

The feelings associated with social anxiety may lead some to consume alcohol more often in social situations. While this can avoid specific symptoms, drinking alcohol to cope with stress is incredibly dangerous. Many people who use substance abuse to cope with anxiety or depression often develop substance use or addiction disorders.

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

The causes of social anxiety disorder are not fully understood but are likely a combination of biological and environmental factors. While a person is more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if a close family member has it, it is not fully clear whether that is due to a genetic factor or a learned behavior over time. Having under-developed social skills, either from lack of experience or other potential reasons, can lead to someone being more self-conscious in social situations and the development of a social anxiety disorder. Trauma, especially at a young age, can lead to the development of anxiety disorder later in life. Many children who experience bullying may also be more inclined to fear social situations or think they will embarrass themselves around others.
Symptoms of social anxiety will most likely first appear in adolescents, with the majority of people developing the disorder by the age of 13. Still, social anxiety can occur at any time. Although it is rare for an adult to begin experiencing anxiety without having symptoms in the past suddenly, sudden trauma or life changes could lead to developing an anxiety disorder later in life.

Can Social Anxiety Disorder be Cured?

While social anxiety does not have a cure, it is considered treatable. Social anxiety disorder is regarded as a chronic condition, meaning it is something that a person will experience throughout their lives. The reason treatment is so important for social anxiety is that it can lessen symptoms and teach coping strategies, so its effects are not as disruptive to a person’s life.

Social anxiety is prevalent, with an estimated 15 million people in the United States suffering from it, making it the second most common anxiety disorder in the country. Social anxiety can prevent a person from engaging with others and experiencing life-changing events. There is no reason that anyone needs to face the effects of social anxiety alone. Medical professionals can find the best treatment options to fit your needs so that you can live your life to the fullest extent.

How To Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety is usually treated through talk therapy options, although medication and group support may also be used. Often, treatment for social anxiety may call for a person to avoid substances such as caffeine or alcohol, which could either increase anxiety levels or form a dependency.

Although it may be uncomfortable, exposure therapy can do a lot of good in reducing social anxiety. Exposure therapy works by gradually experiencing the situations you may be uncomfortable with. This could begin by increasing how often you go to small social gatherings or meet new people. While this may not work for everyone, especially for those with severe cases, it can be a useful tool in a treatment plan.

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