Picture of a sad teenage girl suffering from loneliness

Most people struggle with anxiety at some point in their lives. But for many, those feelings of emotional discomfort go far beyond what’s considered normal. If you regularly experience¬† intense fear or nervousness when it comes to social situations, you may be suffering from a serious mental illness and could benefit from seeking professional treatment.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 15 million adults suffer from social anxiety disorder, which affects men and women equally. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in the world. Characterized by an extreme fear of judgement and/or negative evaluation by one’s peers, it can severely cripple a person’s social life and destroy self confidence and self worth.

Social Anxiety Symptoms

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder can be separated into two categories: Emotional and Physical.

Emotional

  • Fear of judgement
  • Fear of humiliation or embarrassment
  • Anxiety before social events
  • Desire to avoid crowds
  • Performance anxiety

Physical

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Upset stomach
  • Trembling or lightheadedness

An Everyday Occurrence

It’s important to remember that those who suffer from social anxiety disorder struggle with symptoms on a near daily basis. They likely have difficulty with everyday tasks, including interacting with strangers, attending work or school, starting conversations, making eye contact and more.

Social Anxiety Treatments

There are several treatment options available that have proven effective for maintaining and lessening the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. After a mental health professional diagnoses social anxiety, he or she will work with patients to create customized treatment plans that complement their unique needs and requirements.

Medication

There are a variety of  anti-anxiety medications that, when taken according to prescription, can make the symptoms of social anxiety much easier to manage. Some are preventative and taken on a daily basis while other are used immediately when symptoms occur. Side effects vary, so interested patients should thoroughly discuss their options with a professional before beginning any treatment plan.

Therapy

Regular sessions with a licensed therapist, psychologist or other mental health professional can go a long way in lessening the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Through therapy, patients learn to better deal with symptoms through advanced coping mechanisms and can address the root of the disorder’s cause.

Lifestyle Changes

Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge impact as well. Practicing stress management, avoiding unhealthy substance abuse and keeping a journal are three ways to reduce the symptoms of social anxiety disorder internally.

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop social anxiety. But, the following risk factors can increase your chances exponentially:

  • Family history of the disorder
  • History of bullying
  • History of rejection
  • Heavy social or work demands
  • Naturally shy or nervous temperament
  • Having a disfigurement or condition that draws unwanted attention

How Can I Help?

There is currently no known cure for social anxiety disorder. Because it is such a prevalent diagnosis, new research is needed to continue developing our understanding of both the disorder and its treatments. Medical research facilities like Lehigh Center conduct clinical trials to test new medications and accurately assess their safety and effectiveness, bettering the lives of patients around the world and bringing us one step closer to a cure.

If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, please consider applying today. Your participation could make a world of a difference for you and others struggling with social anxiety.