When People are Scary
Social Anxiety and How to Deal with It
IS SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER REAL?
Yes it is very real….
Those who struggle with social anxiety disorder find that they have excessive irrational tension and distress in social situations. They are fearful of people not because they will hurt them, but because they are afraid of what people will think of them. Their greatest fear is usually that they themselves will do something embarrassing or humiliating. Due to this fear, those who have social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience excessive anxiety symptoms. When attempting to interact with others, people with SAD will blush and avoid making eye contact. They usually will experience intense emotional and physical symptoms. These emotional and physical symptoms include: heart racing, racing thoughts, sweating, trembling, and shaking.
Those who suffer from SAD CRAVE the company of others, but shun social situations for fear of being found out as unlikable, stupid, or boring. Therefore, they avoid social situations where they feel as though strangers or people they know may think of them in those ways.
People who wrestle with this usually struggle immensely with low self-esteem and have a high level of self criticism.
The following thoughts and statements are common of those who struggle with social anxiety:
- I have to stay on my toes in social settings just in case something might happen. This prevents me from really being able to enjoy myself at events where there are lots of people.
- I cannot be myself around most people or even anyone. If I were to be myself then someone will probably think I am weird, awkward, or __________ (fill in the blank).
- People are so scary that I can’t go to the grocery store, have a job, or go to school. I want to have a job, go to school, and go to the grocery store, but I might do something stupid or embarrassing there. It is too risky.
- I cannot go to graduations, birthday parties, or baby showers for people I love because I just cannot be around too many people.
- My house and my room are my only safe places. No one can judge me here.
- It is intolerable to be around people. It is just too uncomfortable for me. I would rather not talk to or get to know anyone outside of my comfort zone because it is too scary.
- I am so sad I cannot live a normal life without feeling so much anxiety. I want to have friends, but I would rather avoid it since it is too uncomfortable and scary for me.
To those who do not struggle with SAD the above comments may seem trivial, but to those who struggle with SAD they are VERY REAL.
If the above comments and symptoms described in this article seem similar to what you may struggle with there is help for you. Life does not have to be lived behind four walls and in fear. With the help of God, some medication, and licensed therapists, there is hope for those who struggle with social anxiety disorder.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS THESE SYMPTOMS?
Decide To Educate Yourself
Understanding the nature of this disorder for those who struggle with it is helpful. There are some helpful memoirs by men and women who have struggled with social anxiety themselves. Reading these memoirs and doing research on the illness can help those who struggle with SAD. Being able to understand what is happening in one’s mind and body has potential to be comforting. It provides HOPE when people can gain insight into what they are struggling with and can understand that there are ways in which they can overcome.
Decide to Pray
God is bigger and more powerful than our challenges and our issues. Decide to pray to him. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. God cares about your anxiety. He wants to hear you talk to him about it. Continue to pray to him for help to overcome and pray for strength to make the decisions needed to be made, so that you can OVERCOME.
Decide To Seek Professional Help
It is imperative that those who struggle with social anxiety receive professional help. It may be necessary that those who struggle with SAD need medication and also that they may need therapy. The two combined have most frequently been used to treat SAD. When these symptoms are recognized it will be more helpful to seek help sooner than later. SAD has an early age of onset—by age 11 years in about 50%, and by age 20 years in about 80% of individuals—and it is a risk factor for subsequent depressive illness and substance abuse. Symptoms have less chance of exacerbating if you seek help SOONER than later.
The natural temptation of those who struggle with SAD will be to avoid seeking help. This is because seeking help involves having interpersonal interaction with others who are complete strangers. When this happens:
Decide to Fight
Decide not to give into fear
Deciding not to give into fear does not mean that fear will not be present. Deciding not to give into fear means just not to make decisions based on it. Decide to do what is healthy for you and what is BEST for you instead of what feels most comfortable for you.
Take it step by step
The first step is making a phone call and setting up an appointment. Just take the first step and pray that God gives you the courage to keep taking one step in front of the other.
Stein, D., & Stein, M. (2008). Social Anxiety Disorder. Lancet, 371, 1117
1125. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dan_Stein3/publication/547744
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