Insecurity when speaking in public, making new friends, starting a new job, or moving to another city. These everyday situations can make us more apprehensive or anxious, which is super normal, especially when we are talking about something new or unknown. But what about when this anxiety takes over, to the point of paralyzing us and preventing us from performing certain activities? It could be a case of social phobia.
What is social phobia?
Also known as social anxiety disorder, social phobia is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an extreme fear of being observed by others, avoiding any type of social interaction. Usually, this fear manifests irrationally, causing the person to avoid starting conversations, going to social events, or presenting a job at college.
What are the symptoms of social phobia?
As there are highly extroverted people, there are also those who are more shy and introspective. This is related to each person's personality and life trajectory.
Shyness and discomfort in social media do not necessarily indicate a picture of social phobia. Therefore, it is necessary to observe a set of symptoms and assess how much they affect daily activities which involve social interaction.
Symptoms can be divided into behavioral and physical. See what they are.
Fear of interacting with unknown people;
Anxiety disproportionate to the situation;
I'm afraid of being the "center of attention";
Panic of being seen or judged by others;
Negative thoughtful about himself;
Avoid eye contact;
"Tics" or repetitive movements.
Lack of air;
Nausea or dizziness.
Importantly, at any sign of these symptoms, it is important to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist. These professionals will help with the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Social phobia: what causes?
There is no single cause for social phobia. The reasons can vary and may be related to genetic and heredity causes or trauma or bullying experienced in childhood.
According to the Manual of Diagnostic and Statistical of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), published by the American Psychiatric Association, there are certain criteria that must be taken into account when diagnosing social phobia:
Presence of persistent fear in certain social situations;
Constant awareness of being watched or scrutinized;
Fear of acting in a humiliating or embarrassing way;
Avoiding social situations that cause anxiety or enduring them with irrational and intense fear;
Anxiety or suffering that directly interferes with the patient's quality of life;
Fear or anxiety that any other medical condition cannot explain, medication use, or substance abuse;
Excessive or disproportionate anxiety to the real situation.
As with other treatments for psychological disorders, treatment for social phobia is done through psychotherapy or the prescription of medication by a psychiatrist. Both treatments can be done together, depending on the patient's degree of phobia.
In drug treatment, the psychiatrist usually prescribed anxiolytics or antidepressants. In psychotherapy, the professional helps the patient recognize negative thoughts to find alternatives to deal with them. In addition, psychotherapy helps to develop skills that help the patient gain confidence.
How to live with social phobia?
After the diagnosis is confirmed and treatment with a psychologist or psychiatrist is started, it is interesting for the patient to find some new ways to live with the disorder.
Strengthening existing close relationships is essential as a way to face the situation and also feel supported. Support groups or group therapy can also be a good alternative as a way to share exchanges and common experiences.
Remember, needing help should never be a shame. Taking care of mental health is essential and seeking treatment with a qualified professional is a very important step.