What is social anxiety? A large percentage of the readers of this website have come here seeking help with one common problem: social anxiety. Social anxiety is a debilitating disorder that non-sufferers cannot fully understand until they have experienced it. And yet, almost everyone has felt the effects of social anxiety to some degree. Even those who don’t suffer from social anxiety as a disorder have had moments when they have felt more embarrassed than was warranted by the situation. For example, have you ever misspoken in front of a co-worker, then replayed the conversation in your head for hours—or even days—afterward? This is what sufferers of social anxiety experience. For those who have social anxiety, however, this self-questioning and embarrassment is not an isolated event. It occurs on a daily basis.
Diagnosing social anxiety
So, what is social anxiety going to entail when it is considered a disorder? Like other anxiety disorders, there are specific diagnostic criteria used to identify social anxiety in psychiatric patients. Those who are diagnosed with social anxiety repeatedly experience fear when put in social situations. The situations that evoke fear or an anxiety attack can vary depending on the person. For some, the social situation may be speaking in front of a crowd; for others, it may just be a simple conversation with a grocery store checker.
Many social anxiety sufferers recognize that their fear is irrational or excessive, but still experience it and are unable to suppress it. After all, what is social anxiety if it doesn’t continually return despite your greatest efforts to contain it? This stubbornness is a hallmark sign of any anxiety disorder; frequently the harder we try to make it go away, the more problematic it becomes. CBD oil for Anxiety is another alternative that can be used to drive away these symptoms.
Those who are diagnosed with social anxiety also frequently avoid the situations that cause them anxiety. This can have a significant effect on one’s life, as it may involve changing one’s occupation or social structure. It may even cause some to turn to alcohol or drugs to lessen the painful impact social anxiety has on them.
Specific and general social anxiety
What is social anxiety when it only occurs in a certain situation, like public speaking? Some people experience what is known as specific social anxiety, which only affects them in a few situations. This may be less debilitating, as one may not have to experience those situations very frequently. However, in order for someone to be diagnosed with social anxiety, they must feel like the anxiety they experience over these situations negatively affects their life. When social anxiety occurs more frequently, or across a number of social situations, it is known as generalized social anxiety.
How to treat it
Although there are options for treating social anxiety medicinally, the most effective treatment is still therapy and behavioral modification. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is especially effective. It involves identifying the irrationality of the thoughts underlying social anxiety and challenging those thoughts with rational beliefs. Exposure therapy, which entails gradually becoming more desensitized to social situations in a controlled manner, can also be very effective.
Hopefully, this article was able to answer the question of what is social anxiety for you. If you’re looking for more information on cognitive behavioral therapy and other ways to manage your anxiety, be sure to check out the other articles on loweranxiety.com.