Many of us struggle with stress and depression for many years without realising that our difficulties might be as a result of Social Anxiety.
Most of us feel some fear when we know there is a possibility of being in the spotlight but for those who are socially anxious the fear of embarrassment, humiliation and criticism is much more serious. Among the most common symptoms are – Blushing, Fast heartbeat, Trembling, Sweating and Palpitations. These symptoms can get so intense that they lead to panic attacks, which are frightening and debilitating and can feel as necessary to avoid as the situations that cause them. This is when anxiety is getting in the way of everyday life and has become a problem.
Do any of these situations cause you excessive worry?
- Interacting with unfamiliar people or strangers
- Attending parties or social gatherings
- Going to work or school
- Starting conversations
- Making eye contact
- Entering a room in which people are already seated
- Returning items to a store
- Eating in front of others
- Using a public toilet
If you regularly rearrange your life in order to avoid these and other situations, it may be time to get help in the form of counselling, visiting your G.P and/or medication.
Counselling helps. It begins with one relationship where you can feel safe. In that safety you can discover what led to anxiety becoming overwhelming. You can begin to add more useful pathways for your thoughts and slowly stop using the pathways that aren’t useful. You can build more effective defences against the fear. Once you understand yourself better, you will feel more comfortable connecting with other people and so become less isolated and more supported.
Medication can help lessen the severity of the symptoms making it easier to get further help. You may well be prescribed anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication or beta-blockers. Getting help and support from your G.P can help not only with the medication, but by making a start in breaking the cycle of isolation and more withdrawal from people.