Social Anxiety 101: Signs, Symptoms, and How to Get It Under Control

Imagine being so afraid of what others think about you or what you will do that it keeps you from being in large social situations. Social anxiety disorders can affect anyone. In fact, they do; regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and age. We have all been intimidated by a social setting at one point or another. The most common symptom of a social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) is the overwhelming fear of being judged or humiliated in social settings.

Since so much of life is based on social interactions, it is important to receive help. People who struggle with social anxiety often receive therapy or take medications in order to cope. Today, we will be examining the signs, symptoms, and providing tips on how to get your social anxiety under control. Let’s get started!

What Is Social Anxiety? Why Does It Happen?

Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common. It often manifests as extreme fear or distress towards social situations. There are many social settings that can make us feel anxious; dinner with your significant other’s parents, a job interview, or a big presentation. For people with a social anxiety disorder, these symptoms hinder their daily life and ability to function because they are afraid of judgment or rejection.

Social anxiety (or social phobia) could be triggered by any of these situations:

  • Going to work or class;
  • Starting a conversation with a stranger;
  • Eating in front of others;
  • Speaking in public;
  • Blind dates;
  • Going to parties;
  • Entering crowded rooms;
  • Using public restrooms.

For some, these situations may not seem like a big deal. But for others, they can trigger social phobia and cause major anxiety.

Causes of Social Anxiety

Like most mental health conditions, a social anxiety disorder can be attributed to many biological and environmental factors. The most common causes include:

● Your environment. Parents who had anxiety or phobia towards social settings tend to pass them on to their children. Children who had overprotective or controlling parents also tend to develop social anxiety.

● Your nature. Mental health issues often run in families. However, researchers are not sure whether this is due to genetics or learned behavior.

● Your past experiences. If you had previous social situations that ended poorly, this can cause a social anxiety disorder.

● Your amygdala. The amygdala is a structure in the brain that controls fear. When it is overactive, it can lead to increased social anxiety.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can present itself through physical, behavioral, and emotional symptoms, including:

  • Sweating and shaking;
  • Trouble breathing;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Fear of social situations;
  • Tendency to avoid social situations where you are the center of attention;
  • Intense anxiety towards talking to strangers;
  • Clinginess or tantrums (children);
  • Fear of being judged.

Many factors affect your chances of developing a social phobia. Symptoms often start in the early teen years and appear during adult years. If you start to notice this in yourself do not worry. There are many ways to overcome it.

5 Tips to Get Social Anxiety Under Control

Lifestyle changes can go a long way, especially when paired with therapy. This is what we recommend:

1. Restructure negative thoughts.

People with social anxiety are often met with negative thoughts. They fear embarrassing themselves in front of groups and the judgment they will face for that. Challenging and restructuring these thoughts is one of the most effective ways to manage social anxiety. For more reading on how to do this, check out the following articles:

2. Focus on others instead of yourself.

People who suffer from social anxiety tend to focus more on themselves and their discomfort. As a result, they struggle to focus on the people around them. This puts extra pressure on you.

Instead, try focusing on those around you. Start a conversation with someone new just to take your mind of anxiety. Focus on what the other person is saying and not the negative thoughts. Social anxiety can be difficult, but it is not as noticeable as you think. Being in the moment makes it much easier to manage.

3. Try to become more social.

This can be difficult, or even counterintuitive, but when you seek out new relationships, it helps break the trend of anxiety. A simple “hello” to a classmate or asking a co-worker how their weekend was is a great way to manage social anxiety. Once you have created new relationships, it becomes easier to feel comfortable and supported. 

Want more information on how to socialize after the pandemic? Please check out this article for specific tips on how to make it easier on yourself in this situation.

4. Have a better diet.

Your diet affects your mental health in a variety of ways. Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. These all can make your anxiety worse and that is several steps in the wrong direction. A better diet can improve many areas of your life, so if you are concerned, consider increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals.

5. Try practicing meditation and yoga.

These are great methods for people with social anxiety. Pair this with exercise and you will see many health benefits. We have articles on mindfulness and meditation that may be helpful. Check out:

Treatment for Social Anxiety

Typically, your primary care doctor will recommend your specific treatment for your social anxiety disorder. Prescription medications are also available, but should only be administered under a doctor’s care. Online therapy is recommended so that the patient does not have to leave his or her home. For additional reading on specific approaches to therapy for anxiety, check out this article.

Ready to begin your journey with therapy? Mental Treat has specialists on our platform that specialize in anxiety. Simply visit our website and use the filters to find the right professional for you. Getting help is easy with Mental Treat. As always, take care, and be well.

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Natalia Korsakova

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