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It’s normal for many people to feel nervous on certain occasions, such as performing in front of people or getting an interview for a job. However, social anxiety is not your normal shyness. In fact, this disorder involves excessive fear of social situations, especially when the person feels like they’re being watched by others.
People with social anxiety disorder avoid these social situations at great lengths because of too much fear that, in the process, disturbs their life. When you’re scared of being judged, scrutinised, or embarrassed in public, you may have social anxiety disorder.
Clinics like Well Beings Counselling aim to help people with social anxiety disorder to regain their confidence and be calm in social situations. The excessive fear of social situations can drastically affect a person’s functioning, life, and relationships.
Social anxiety disorder not only affects the mind but also affects the physical aspect of a person. Like other anxiety disorders, your respiratory system and your heart are mostly affected.
- A very common problem is shortness of breath, where you tend to catch your breath due to this unfounded fear you have.
- A person also feels a fast heart rate, redness of the face, trembling, and sweating.
- Other patients also report experiencing an upset stomach, dizziness or nausea.
- Because of this intense fear of social situations, a person may display a stiff body posture, speak very softly, and avoid eye contact.
- Unless you get treatment for social anxiety disorder, you’ll always look and feel awkward when confronted with social situations.
You will only be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder if your fear or anxiety of a social situation affects your daily life, your work, your academics, and social life. Your ability to function becomes impaired whenever you encounter unfamiliar social situations and your brain makes you feel an extreme sensation of self-consciousness.
- You also experience excessive worry for days or even months prior to a social event.
- A person with social anxiety has excessive fear of being judged or watched by people, especially those whom they don’t know.
- People with this disorder are frightened by the thought that they’ll act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate themselves.
- They are also scared that other people will notice their nervousness and perhaps judge them.
Because of such effects on the mind, a person with social anxiety behaves differently in social situations.
- They try to avoid social situations to the point that they limit their activities around people they know, disrupting their entire social life.
- They may also remain quiet or hide in the background to try to escape embarrassment and notice.
- A person may feel the need to always bring a companion along with them wherever they go.
- It is also common for these people to drink prior to a social situation to calm their nerves.
Social anxiety disorder can prevent sufferers from living their lives to the fullest. This is because they’ll try everything just to avoid social situations that other people consider normal and part of life.
The sufferers of social anxiety disorder are baffled at how other people can handle these situations easily.
When a person avoids most or all social situations, it can greatly affect their confidence. Because of this, their personal relationships also suffer.
- Social anxiety disorder leads to low self-esteem because they believe they’re not likeable enough.
- Their avoidance of social situations also hinders them from making new friends, making them feel even less confident.
- The feeling of being judged by others also makes them tend to focus on negative thoughts.
- People with social anxiety disorder usually can’t take criticism.
- Generally, a sufferer of this disorder has poor social skills that don’t seem to improve over time.
- Finally, people with social anxiety disorder may often feel low, which can usually lead to depression.
If you have social anxiety disorder, you don’t have to hide inside your room or continue to avoid people. It is a treatable condition and if you are committed and patient, you’ll regain your self-confidence again and live your life the way you want to.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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