Social Anxiety – what is it?

Social anxiety or social anxiety disorder is the condition where an individual has feelings of fear in response to social situations that affects their ability to enjoy a normal and healthy life. It is also referred to as social phobia and the affected persons find it difficult to cope and tend to avoid social situations.

With today’s advances in technology that foster remote communication, the disorder seems to be getting more prevalent. If you suffer from this problem, it is important to know that it is among the most common anxiety disorders out there. Herein is a comprehensive account of some aspects of this condition that you need to know.

The signs of social anxiety

There are a number of notable symptoms that are evident in people afflicted with social anxiety. The most common is extreme anxiety during certain events such as meeting new people, talking to people in authority, giving presentations in front of people, being the centre of attention, parties or social gatherings and being watched while doing something.

Socially anxious people will tend to avoid such situations as much as possible. They often depend on technology to facilitate interaction. In addition, there may be some physical signs present if you have the disorder. These include increased heartbeat, cold sweating, minor trembling, shortness of breath, numbness, blushing as well as dry mouth and throat.

The Effects of Social Anxiety

1. Harmful effects

While anxiety is a normal emotional stress reaction, it becomes significantly harmful once it is persistent, excessive, overwhelming and seemingly uncontrollable. People with social anxiety disorder have a higher risk of depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal tendencies. The risk is higher than in those with other anxiety disorders.

In children and teens, it can affect nearly all aspects of their school life causing reduced success in academics and other educational aspects. If left untreated, it spills over into adult life. It can have a negative impact on a person’s work life.

Social anxiety makes it difficult to take part in job interviews and land a job. The sufferers are also unable to develop meaningful professional relationships through networking. Effective networking involves extensive social settings all of which socially anxious individual always avoid. They may also have problems taking to authority figures in the work environment thus affecting their careers.

People with social anxiety tend to have few or no romantic or social relationships. Such relations have been shown to be essential for optimal self-esteem levels. Reduced self-esteem causes socially anxious individuals to feel alone and ashamed consequently making the situation even worse. Evidently, unchecked social anxiety can lead to a string of harmful psychological disorders.

2. Beneficial Effects

Social anxiety also has some unexpected benefits in some instances. Studies indicate that people are more trusting of socially anxious people. In addition, a fewer number of friends allow for the development of more meaningful and deeper personal relationships.

From the evolutionary standpoint, humans have always benefited from anxiety. Anxious people are less likely to engage in potentially dangerous activities thus they have significantly higher chances of survival. The aforementioned physical signs of anxiety like increased heartbeat are the same adaptive features that help our bodies prepare for danger.

There are effective treatment options for this disorder. They are mostly focused on managing the social anxiety to ensure that the affected can have normal productive life in all aspects. Since anxiety is a normal and adaptive human response, attempting to eliminate it would not be very wise.

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