What is Social Anxiety?
Everyone feels shy or anxious from time to time, but social anxiety goes much deeper than normal social jitters. People with social anxiety feel terror around others, and may be so debilitated by their anxiety that they cease attempting to create new relationships. Social anxiety is intensely isolating.
Many people with the condition desperately seek connections (we all do!), but don’t have the skills necessary to overcome their anxiety and build strong relationships. Without connections and valuable relationships, you can easily find yourself thrown into a cycle of self-loathing, depression, and isolation. For some, the fear of social interaction is so strong that they develop agoraphobia: a fear of leaving the home. Others experience intense panic attacks that can make it frightening to be alone in public or interfere with their ability to interact socially.
What Are the Symptoms of Social Anxiety?
If you think you have social anxiety, check out these common symptoms:
- Persistently avoiding social situations.
- Sacrificing career or educational goals because of fear about social interactions
- Experiencing anxiety or panic during social interactions
- Being preoccupied with concerns that people don’t like you or are judging you
- Being afraid to leave your home
The physical and psychological symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include:
- An urge to flee from the social situation
- Perspiration and sweaty palms
- Muscle tension
- Stomach pain
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth and difficulty talking
- Feeling faint or light-headed
- Feelings of self-doubt
- Difficulty concentrating
What Causes Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is not well-understood, which means that, as research progresses, we may gain keener insights into why some people experience social anxiety even as others do not. For now, we know that a number of risk factors increase your likelihood of developing social anxiety. These include:
- A family history of social anxiety —children of people with social anxiety may develop the condition through genetic means, or could “learn” social anxiety after a lifetime of watching mom or dad struggle with it.
- A history of trauma —people who have experienced violence at the hands of other people are especially vulnerable to social anxiety.
- A prior history of mental illness
- A childhood history of abuse or trauma
- A recent life transition — someone who’s recently gone through a divorce or moved halfway across the country may feel increasingly anxious in their new surroundings.
Of course, these are just risk factors. It’s possible to get social anxiety disorder for no clear reason, and many people with no risk factors at all also develop the condition. What matters most is not why you have social anxiety, but what you can do about it. And at Three Seas Counselling, we offer you world-class assistance to move beyond the pain of social anxiety.
How We Can Help — Its Time To Overcome Social Anxiety
As with other anxiety disorders, social anxiety is often found in connection with other mental health issues such as depression, low self-esteem and alcohol and drug abuse. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing stress and anxiety in social contexts. Social anxiety can be treated using medical (drug) or psychological approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Three Seas offers intensive counselling that can help you:
- Understand why you are anxious
- Dissect choices that may be contributing to your anxiety
- Offer you coping mechanisms
- Help you master new social skills
- Offer you a path out of anxiety
Our counsellors work with you to develop a tailored approach that will treat your anxiety in a way that feels safe and comfortable. We offer confidential, judgment-free settings where you can safely explore your emotions. We know it’s not easy to seek counselling when you struggle with social anxiety, but we use the therapeutic relationship as a testing ground for working beyond anxiety. You can get better, but you won’t without treatment. Let The Three Seas do the heavy lifting to pull you out of a life of anxiety and into a life of engaged social commitments.