While many people feel excitement or interest in socializing, some individuals feel an intense fear. It is normal to want to avoid embarrassment. But when an excessive and unreasonable fear interferes with one’s quality of life, it may be due to a social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is a chronic condition characterized by feelings of intense fear around social interactions. These interactions may come in different forms, including:
- Going into a crowded room
- Interacting with people they do not know
- Becoming the center of attention
- Eating meals with strangers
The causes of social anxiety vary depending on the individual. For some, the cause may stem from a lack of social skills. For others, past traumas or brain chemistry are the primary factors. Situational factors such as high stress, medical conditions, relationship issues, and substance abuse can contribute as well.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety?
The primary way of identifying and diagnosing social anxiety is from the symptoms experienced around social interactions. The more fear of social situations interferes with normal functioning, the more likely it is that an individual has social anxiety. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling fear in anticipation of a social situation
- Intense worrying or anxiety around embarrassing one’s self
- Fear of interacting with strangers
- Taking steps to avoid social situations
- Expecting a worst case scenario in a social experience
- Over-analyzing and criticizing one’s self for social interactions
The physical signs may also include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trembling and shaking
- Tight muscles
There are a variety of techniques and methods used to help get social anxiety under control and live a fulfilling life. These may involve behavioral therapies, group programs, and exposure therapy under the supervision of a professional. In some cases, medication can be combined with these techniques to effectively manage social anxiety.
How We Can Help
At Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, we treat a range of anxiety disorders including social anxiety disorder through outpatient and inpatient programs. We can provide the support you need to conquer your symptoms so that you have an easier time living life day-to-day with reduced fear or worry about social situations.
We know that each person suffering from social anxiety disorder has different circumstances and needs. Each needs a personal path to recovery and enjoying life again. That is why we customize each patient’s treatment program to fit their symptoms, needs, and goals.