Social anxiety disorder

What is social anxiety disorder?

Many people experience anxiety and worry when they have to speak in front of a lot of people, give a presentation or something similar.

And while these fears are perfectly normal, for many people they are exaggerated and given too much importance.

Virtually everyone gets butterflies in the stomach before showing themselves off in front of a bunch of people, but for those suffering from social anxiety disorder the fear is paralyzing and creates a whole bunch of very unpleasant symptoms and sensations.

Underlying this very strong fear is a worry that you will expose yourself, that you will be compared and someone else will think you are better than you, that you will be laughed at, judge you in some way for who you are and most likely give you a very nasty negative review.

Perhaps you yourself realize how far-fetched this is, but nevertheless you feel helpless and do not know what to do.

You probably think that there is nothing to do, but you are wrong. In fact, dealing with social anxiety is easier than you think.

In what situations does it manifest itself most often?

In most cases, social anxiety disorder manifests itself when meeting new people, when you are being watched while doing something, when speaking in front of people (acquaintances, strangers), when performing on stage, when talking to “authoritative” people or employees, when going on a date, when testing in front of other classmates, when using a public toilet, when eating or drinking in a public place, when attending parties and other social gatherings .

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder (social phobia)

Just because you sometimes get very nervous in various social situations does not mean you have a social disorder or social phobia.

Many people are shy and this somehow stresses them out in everyday life. However, with social phobia, a person is very often unable to carry out completely routine activities, and if he does succeed, it is accompanied by terrible stress.

Emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder

– Extreme worry and anxiety in everyday situations;
– Intense anxiety that can last for weeks and even months before an upcoming social event;
– Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially if you don’t know them;
– Fear that you will expose yourself in some way or become ridiculous in front of other people;
– Fear that others will sense your nervousness;

Physical symptoms

– Flushing;
– Inability to catch your breath;
– Upset stomach, nausea, feeling of butterflies in the stomach;
– Trembling voice;
– Rapid pulse and chest tightness;
– Sweating or hot flashes;
– Dizziness;

Behavioral Symptoms

– Avoiding social events to the extent that it affects your personal life.
– You stay quiet and hidden behind other people in an effort to avoid being noticed.
– Need to always go to an event with a friend.
– Drinking alcohol before social events to relax the nerves.

How to stop thinking that everyone is watching us?

To limit the feeling that everyone is focused on you, simply pay attention to what is happening around you instead of only watching yourself and focus on your own anxiety symptoms.

Just imagine what would happen if at a given social event everyone concentrated entirely on themselves and their own feelings. Look at the people and everything around you.

Pay attention to what they say (not just pretend to listen). Don’t feel obligated and responsible for maintaining a conversation – silence can also be pleasant, and another person can take initiative in the conversation.

How to deal with social anxiety disorder

– Stop thinking that everyone is watching and analyzing you. You are not the center of the universe and not all people are watching your every move.

– Don’t feel obligated to lead every conversation. Let people take the initiative.

– When you are around a lot of people, concentrate on what they are doing and saying, not on yourself.

– Good communication with other people is also a matter of emotional communication. When you’re intensely focused on your own feelings, you miss the chance to feel other people’s.

– Practice communication skills. You can always exchange two words with someone in the elevator or on the subway.

– Limit caffeine intake as it stimulates the activity of the nervous system.

– Get enough sleep and rest. A good rest makes people at least 10-20% more relaxed in conversation with strangers.

– Be careful with alcohol. You may not know, but alcohol, although it relaxes the body, actually increases the risk of having a panic attack when you’re around people.

– Practice distraction and relaxation techniques.

– Face the fear one step at a time.

– Consider attending group therapy. There you will see people who have exactly the same fears as you.

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