Do you find that you tend to obsess about things before or after they occur? Does a sometimes unexplained fear stop you from participating in social situations, or result in you feeling as though you’re not good enough? Though there is a spectrum, having these types of feelings often or long term can be an indication of a social anxiety disorder.
Feeling shy is usually alleviated once a person feels they can open up. Having a social anxiety disorder can have you opening up one minute —and closing up the very next out of fear of having said too much.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder otherwise referred to as social phobia, is a mental condition that embodies the fear of trauma. This fear arises as a persistent and intense feeling of being watched, evaluated, and judged by other people. It can affect social situations, yes, but it can also affect work, school, and other daily activities.
What happens in the body?
A person who experiences social anxiety disorder will exhibit one if not a number of these symptoms or behaviors when their anxiety is triggered.
- Flushing of the face or body
- Lack of eye contact
- Intense fear of being judged
- “Blank” mind
- Self-consciousness around others
- Overly soft-spoken
- Rapid heart rate
- Low self-esteem
These symptoms may occur to varying degrees, depending on the situation revolving around the trigger.
How Does Someone Develop Social Anxiety?
There’s an entire scope of factors that can contribute to someone having social anxiety.
In cases where it is genetic, those with a parent with social anxiety are as high as 40% more likely to develop it as well. The gene SLCGA 4, which is activated in the transportation of feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, has been linked to social anxiety in patients with high, low, or fluctuating levels.
Those who suffer from social anxiety experience an amplification of the prefrontal cortex of the amygdala. They have trouble regulating after a flagged fight or flight response. Meaning, they have difficulty self-soothing after a situation that provoked their anxiety.
Other factors that contribute to social anxiety outside genetic predisposition are related to environmental influences. The trauma associated with these types of controls can lead to developed social anxiety over time. Some of these include:
- Having been bullied
- Family conflict, violence, or divorce
- Death or desertion by a parent
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Maternal stress
How Can You Treat Social Anxiety?
Treating social anxiety, like many behavioral and cognitive disorders, is not linear. The first step is to be diagnosed. Having social anxiety makes approaching treatment a challenging endeavor as it often requires overcoming a level of anxiety itself to seek therapy in the first place.
After being diagnosed with a mental healthcare professional, there are several options. Some find success with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. A possible treatment is to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy to alleviate severe symptoms by means of rewiring the brain and cognitive processes.
A Note from GR8NESS
If you or someone you know suffers from an anxiety disorder, know that you’re not alone. It is possible to reduce its ability to have control over aspects of your life, and your friends at GR8NESS are here for you.