Recognizing and Overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder

It is very common for anyone to feel shy in a new environment, or nervous in front of a crowd of total strangers. It is also very normal for people to feel afraid of embarrassing themselves while giving a speech on stage. It is also equally usual for a person to feel butterflies in the stomach during an interview. However, it is necessary to understand that while these situations seem to happen very naturally, for some, things can actually lead to a psychological state called social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder, also termed as social phobia, is the result of extreme and unwarranted fear in social situations. People undergoing this psychological condition will be overly frightened of being observed and judged by others. They feel anxious and excessively worried about a social situation weeks or months before it happens. They have limited social skills, and suffer from altered thinking, wrong beliefs about a social situation, and very negative perceptions of what people might be thinking of them. This affects their behavior at work, school or in social activities. This is the most common type of anxiety disorder in the United States. It is consoling to know that the triggers can be recognized, and social anxiety disorder can be overcome.The situations or events that provoke this condition are rather obvious. People who suffer from social phobia will find it very stressful to face new people, speak in public, attend an interview or sit for an examination. They are even fearful to use a public toilet. It is noticeable that these people do not have enough courage to speak up in meetings, and are very nervous to go on a date. They also tend to avoid talking on the telephone, writing or speaking in front of others for fear of scrutiny.Knowing the triggers alone is not enough. There are symptoms which will help to recognize this anxiety disorder when it happens. Psychological symptoms are easier to identify if the person that you are analyzing is yourself. When it is someone else, harder work is required to look for the cues. Among the signs is constant fear of embarrassment. Social phobic people also tend to be anxious for weeks and months before an event. Things get so bad that they limit their lives to avoid social situations to the extent that it disrupts a healthy and normal daily routine.

Apart from psychological symptoms, physical signs are more easily identifiable. Among the common ones are upset stomach and nausea. A social phobic person also experiences confusion, sweating and trembling hands. If you observe his or her mouth, you will find that it is very dry. Usually, you can also feel a pounding heart, exhibited by rapid breathing. His or her face is very likely to blush, accompanied by speech with a shaky voice.

When the triggers and symptoms are identified, it is easier to deal with social anxiety disorder. It is essential to treat it at an early stage because if left unattended to, it could lead to a panic attack. One of the easiest ways to overcome this condition is by making a few adjustments to daily life. First and foremost is to get enough sleep. People with social phobia will find themselves calmer and less anxious with adequate sleep. Another tip is to control caffeine intake by avoiding coffee, tea or chocolate as caffeine is well known to stimulate anxiety. It is also highly advisable to quit smoking and stop drinking because nicotine and alcohol could trigger anxiety attacks.

Social anxiety disorder can also be treated through cognitive behavior therapy. This helps a person think more rationally to face the situations that they used to fear. This is testified to be the best method to treat this disorder as it helps to change the way people think and feel, to alter their behavior. The therapy includes learning how to substitute negative and anxious thoughts with positive ones, facing anxiety causing situations in a systematic way and practicing breathing techniques.

People can also resort to medication if they feel it is necessary to treat this disorder. Several antidepressants are commonly used for treatment, such as Paxil and Zoloft. Beta-blockers relate to the heart and are helpful to control physical symptoms like trembling hands and rapid heartbeat. Tranquilizers such as Ativan and Valium are used for calming effects as a last resort, as they are addictive.

People who have social anxiety disorder can reclaim their life and need not feel that all hope is gone when they identify with the signs. This is a common disorder which can be treated with a positive mindset and a healthy lifestyle, besides the use of medications. Of course, learning how to improve social skills definitely helps a great deal.

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