Social anxiety disorder is the third most commonly diagnosed mental disorder, right after depression and alcohol dependence. Many people struggle with this phobia without realizing it or being able to name the problem that bothers them. Social anxiety disorder can manifest itself during public speaking, and it can even be mistaken for simple stage fright or shyness. What is social anxiety disorder? What are its causes? How does it manifest, and how can it be treated? Keep reading!
What is social anxiety disorder?
Social anxiety disorder is a neurotic disorder and one of the three most prevalent disorders in the world. Despite its frequent occurrence, it is diagnosed in people only a few times. This is due to various factors, primarily the lack of knowledge that causes it to be confused with shyness or simply with a person’s character trait.
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder usually hide from it and adapt their lifestyle to it. They are loners, introverts, and avoid socializing with others. Fear of establishing contact with other people forces them to avoid psychologists or psychotherapists, making it difficult to recognize social anxiety disorder.
Causes of social anxiety disorder
At this time, there are no studies that point to a clear cause of social anxiety disorder. However, there are several theories on this topic – none of them have been fully confirmed, but they have not been completely disproven either.
To some extent, genes can also contribute to the occurrence of phobias. Research shows that people whose family members suffered from social anxiety disorder have a higher chance of developing the disorder themselves. Social anxiety disorder can also develop for environmental reasons – in people who were harassed by their peers and victims of violence during childhood and school age.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder can manifest itself in various ways, and therefore, it is often unnoticed and simply confused with shyness or ordinary stage fright. In some people, social anxiety disorder may not manifest until they need to perform in public, at university, work, or even in front of family members.
Somatic difficulties are also very common in adults and children. Symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:
- Heart palpitations
- Increased sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Speech disorders – stuttering, “losing” words
- Hot flashes
All of this can be compounded by the fact that the person feels constantly monitored and harshly judged – this is how social anxiety disorder works. How to deal with such situations? First of all, you must realize that you have a problem and seek professional help in a psychotherapeutic office.
Treatment of social phobia
Dealing with social phobia is not easy, and while pharmacological treatment is sometimes used, it is not entirely effective when used as the main and only way to solve the problem. Typically, it acts symptomatically, which means that it allows you to cope with the problem as long as you take special medication. This is where psychotherapy can help.
During individual psychotherapy, you can overcome anxiety through interactions with the therapist. This way, you can open up more easily and understand where your problem comes from. Understanding the mechanisms that govern it will make it easier to cope with new boundaries and break through them.