Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW
Are you worried about whether or not you are suffering from some type of social anxiety disorder? Many people wonder whether they are having anxiety issues or if they are just a bit nervous. It is certainly normal to feel nervous when you are placed in various social situations. You might feel nervous when you are meeting your significant other’s parents or when you are going into your first day of work at a new company. However, there is a point when those nervous feelings will pass over and become full-blown social anxiety.
Are you asking yourself, “Do I have social anxiety?” Read on to learn more about social anxiety disorder so that you can better determine whether you are dealing with a social anxiety issue. You can learn more about what triggers social anxiety as well as how it can be treated. It might feel very unnerving to be so socially anxious, but this is something that you can come to terms with. A little bit of knowledge is going to go a long way toward helping you feel better.
The Difference between Nervousness and Social Anxiety
General nervousness is quite a bit different from social anxiety. When you are a bit nervous, it will be a feeling that will pass after a certain amount of time. You might feel some nerves before you do something, and then it will get better as the night goes on. Once you ease into a situation, you will find that your nervousness will subside. When you suffer from social anxiety, the feeling is a lot stronger than that.
Those who suffer from social anxiety will feel a profound sense of dread when faced with particular social situations. This could cause them to want to run and hide due to just how anxious they are. Nervousness might be similar to this somehow, but it is a much smaller feeling that does not have big consequences. Nervousness can make you feel a little awkward or worried, but social anxiety can make you feel total panic.
Take an Anxiety Test
One of the best ways to see whether you have anxiety is to take a simple anxiety test. This test is designed to give you an indication of whether you have anxiety or not. If it does seem like you have anxiety after taking the test, then it is going to be a good idea to talk to your doctor. You can get the treatment that will help you feel far less socially anxious, and you never have to simply resign yourself to dealing with anxiety alone.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
It is not easy to say what causes social anxiety because there are many potential causes. What causes you to feel social anxiety might not cause someone else to feel anxious at all. Two people who both have social anxiety disorders might experience completely different social anxiety triggers. Large crowds alone could bring on your anxiety symptoms while another person could develop when interacting with the opposite sex.
The only clear thing is that social situations cause social anxiety to flare up in certain people. Generally, these social situations are going to be ones that you are not very comfortable with. You might be okay with some social situations you have gotten used to, but new social situations will frighten you. This is standard for people who suffer from social anxiety, but things could be slightly different in your case.
Social Anxiety Symptoms
There are many different social anxiety symptoms that you might encounter while dealing with a disorder. Some social anxiety symptoms are going to be physical, while others will involve your emotional state. The physical symptoms of social anxiety include things such as nausea, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, shaking, and trouble speaking, becoming lightheaded, and blushing. Sometimes social anxiety can trigger a full-blown anxiety attack as well.
If you experience an anxiety attack, then that can feel quite similar to having a heart attack in some instances. Some people note that they will experience chest pain when they have an anxiety attack. Others will feel like they have an asthma attack where they are having trouble breathing. It can be very unsettling to go through something like this while you are out in public. You can learn how to cope with extreme symptoms like this, though, and you will be able to go over that more lately.
You also need to be aware of the psychological or emotional symptoms of social anxiety. When you have social anxiety, you are likely to feel very worried about what others are thinking about you. It might not always be rational to be worried about what strangers are thinking about you, but this is a social anxiety symptom. People with social anxiety will be concerned about embarrassing themselves, and they will even worry for weeks before they know that they have to go to a social function.
Some people have social anxiety that is strong enough that it will make them miss work or school. You might be so concerned about social problems that you just will not feel like you can face them. People with social anxiety tend to avoid social situations as much as possible, but it does not have to be like this. People can learn to take control and deal with social anxiety.
Learning How to Cope With Social Anxiety
Coping with social anxiety becomes easier when you are able to develop coping mechanisms. This is something that refers to actions that you can take that will make social situations easier to navigate. For example, when you feel yourself becoming anxious while you are out in public, you might be able to close your eyes and count to ten so that you can calm down. This is a very simple example of a coping mechanism that people use to get through social situations.
You can develop coping mechanisms over time that will make it easier to keep yourself centered. Some coping mechanisms are even good at helping people to get through anxiety attacks. Of course, you might have a hard time if your anxiety symptoms are very severe. Some people can better utilize coping mechanisms than others can, but they should help you out no matter what.
It is also going to be wise to try to understand your anxiety triggers. If you know what triggers anxiety in you, you can avoid situations that will be particularly bad. It is not necessarily healthy to avoid all social activity, but you can avoid things that make it tough for you. If you dislike large crowds, then you will know that it is best to avoid them in the future. Make good choices that will allow you to do the best that you can.
Doctors Can Give You Medications
Doctors will be able to help you deal with social anxiety so that you can start moving forward again. The first thing that a doctor can do is diagnose you with a proper social anxiety disorder. This will give you a better idea of how you should proceed based on the types of issues you are having. After this, your doctor will be able to determine whether you should be taking anti-anxiety medications to help your condition.
Some people who suffer from social anxiety will improve quite a bit when they take anti-anxiety medications. They can help to take away those anxious feelings so that you will be able to get through your day. Pills like this do not necessarily eliminate social anxiety, but they help make the condition more manageable. If you have been struggling with social anxiety for quite some time, then it might be a good idea to consider speaking to your doctor about what can be done.
Therapy Helps A Lot
Therapy has the potential to help you with social anxiety, and it might be even more effective than taking traditional anti-anxiety medications. A professional therapist can work with you to help you understand the social anxiety that you are dealing with. Medications can be good, but they do not help you address your social anxiety’s root cause. There are likely reasons why you have developed social anxiety that need to be figured out.
Your therapist can talk to you to help you determine why you might have certain social issues. Many people discover that social phobias or anxieties stem from events that happened to them in the past. For example, you might fear intimacy because you experienced an embarrassing moment in the past. You could also be afraid of crowds because of a bad experience in your past. The things that have happened to you in life can stay with you for a long time, but a therapist can help you deal with them.
It is a good idea to spend some time talking about your issues with a therapist. You can come to terms with your social anxiety so that you can start making progress. Eventually, you will start to feel more confident, and you might even find that certain social situations do not feel quite as tough. You can overcome social anxiety when you work with a dedicated therapist.
NOTES: No changes required.
- Does not go against what is clinically accepted.
- Does not encourage mindsets or practices that may be harmful to the reader.
- Is factual and up-to-date.