Social Anxiety Disorder - Is There an Answer?

Social anxiety is a physcological or emotional problem that effects 7.8% of the population at any one time and over 12% of the population will suffer from it at some point in their life time.  This makes it one of the biggest and most serious disorders encountered.

Comparatively little is known about Social Anxiety Disorder, despite its prevelance and the debilitating nature of  the way that it affects so many areas of the sufferer’s life. It is therefore frequently mis-dignosed or mis-treated, leading to further negative pressure on the victim.

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, low self-esteem, low self-confidence and inferiority. 

Put another way, social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. Giving a speech or presentation, introducing oneself around the room or generally being the center of attention are specific situations where social anxiety may be a problem.

If a person usually becomes anxious in social situations, but seems fine when they are alone, then "social anxiety" may be the problem. People with social anxiety disorder usually experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:

Being introduced to other people 

Being teased or criticized 

Being the centre of attention 

Being watched while doing something 

Meeting people in authority ("important people") 

Most social encounters, especially with strangers 

Going around the room (or table) in a circle and having to say something 

Interpersonal relationships, whether friendships or romantic

This list is certainly not a complete list of symptoms -- other feelings have been associated with social anxiety as well. Frequently there are also physiological symptoms such as intense fear, racing heart, turning red or blushing, excessive seating, dry throat and mouth, trembling, swallowing with difficulty, and muscle twitches, particularly about the face and neck. Constant, intense anxiety that does not go away is the most common feature.

Thankfully there is help at hand and sufferers can learn overcome their problems by learning new ways of dealing with their anxiety-producing situations. Specialized therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder has been developed by leading experts in the field and these have been put together into specific courses designed to overcome Social Anxiety. It does not matter what specific symptoms are presented, nor what age group, sex or background the group members come from. Measured results show that, invariably, significant progress is made during attendance at a structured therapy group course, no matter what differences are present. Follow-up research has shown that this progress continues after the course ends if the new strategies are continued in normal life.

The rate and extent of recovery depends on a number of factors such as how long the individual has suffered, how severely they have experienced their problems and how much time they can devote to the therapy between sessions. The very fact that attendance at a group is involved will tend to raise the anxiety levels.  At the same time, however, the common bond of joint suffering and the understanding of each other’s problems reduces the anxiety and leads to mutual help.

Age is not important, since some people suffer from childhood and others may not find help until middle age or later. The most important aspect of recovery is the understanding and awareness of the problem and the commitment to undertake the therapy. Research has shown that medication does not permanently change the chemistry of the brain meaning that Comprehensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the sensible approach to conquering social anxiety.

So make a commitment to take action to eradicate the social anxiety from your life once and for all.

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