Social anxiety or phobia is felt by many people. Social anxiety is not just stage-fright, although stage fright may be a part of it.
What is social anxiety?
- Basically, the person feels high level of unease when they are on display in front of people in any social situation – this also mean gathering of friends and family too.
Effect of social anxiety on person’s life:
- Dating and relationships become difficult for them.
- They are viewed as shy and backward.
- Miss out opportunities to grow out of their fear.
- They may hold jobs much below their capacity out of this fear.
Causes of social phobia:
Social phobia has many causes. By and large, research suggests that the fear is learnt. The upbringing of the child could be such that his or her parents never encouraged or acknowledged them, and were harshly critical, and so the self-esteem is very low. There could also have been one or more severely embarrassing social situations that could have triggered such intense fear of social situations.
Attributions, or the reasons we believe are behind events, tend to add to this fallacy. A confident person would see an embarrassing situation as a one-off, or a learning experience and make the best of it. A person with low self-esteem would attribute it to their own fault, and would think that they are right in thinking that they cannot do anything at all, thus making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Can social anxiety or phobia be cured?
The answer is yes. Not only with social anxiety but also with other anxiety disorders, there is some amount of fear of social situations, and therapists provide ‘social skills training’ to get over this fear. In this, detailed effort is made to unconditioned the fear of social situations, to understand accurately what facial expressions mean, how to start and maintain a conversation, how to make a compliment, an argument and so on. Since there is a high eagerness to make their situation better, clients do find the training very helpful.
The therapists may even work on a client’s absolute thoughts, such as ‘I must excel at everything I do’ which is an unrealistic thought that put pressure on the person and increases anxiety. These thoughts are disputed and replaced by healthier thoughts. Slowly, clients start to do their disputations on their own, and feel much lighter and less anxious with these healthy thoughts.
Since social anxiety can occur with other issues like panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia and depression, sometimes medication may be suggested to reduce the intensity of the concerns. This helps to bring the person to a level where he or she can work on their thoughts and social skills.
If you or someone you meet or know seems to go through these concerns, please do not dismiss these and ask them to ‘buck up’. If it were that easy, they would have done it already. They need help and the sooner they get it, the faster they get it, the better they could use the help and resolve these concerns.
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