Your friends are chatting up a storm. They seem like they’re having fun! Wouldn’t it be nice if you could join in?
Before you can spit out two syllables, everyone’s gaze turns upon you. You can feel their eyes piercing you!
Uninformed people wouldn’t see Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) as an actual disorder. If you suffer from SAD, you’ve probably gotten tired of the famous motto: “just get over it!”
But the numbers tell a different story. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, $42 billion are spent every year on anxiety disorders – and that’s just in the U.S.
Why Is So Much Money Spent to Such Little Effect?
The explanation is actually straightforward. Over half of that cost is spent on trying to treat physiological symptoms of anxiety.
In general, it feels easier for sufferers of Social Anxiety Disorder to try and cover up these symptoms than to tackle the problem head on and carry the stigma of mental illness.
The following section contains some telltale signs of the affliction. If you have a history of anxious behavior, consider talking to your practitioner so they can recommend a proper treatment.
Physiological Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
As mentioned above, there are a number of telltale signs of SAD:
- Sweating and shaking – if you haven’t experienced other cold-related signs (a runny nose, fever, etc.), these are likely tied to the looming dread of SAD;
- Difficulty breathing, dizziness – these often go hand in hand when there is present (or future) social interaction involved;
- Heart palpitations or chest tightness – although harmless by themselves, these could be warning signs that you might be on the verge of a panic attack;
- Nausea and stomach problems – due to the increased stress your body is exposed to due to anxiety;
You can imagine that none of the above are particularly pleasant experiences. But do people suffering from SAD often take steps to curb these behaviors through therapy?
Not particularly. In fact, they are more likely to avoid the uncomfortable situations altogether. This is very understandable though; the idea of seeking therapy can become just another source of grief for people with SAD. Have a read about avoidance behavior in the following section.
There are three primary ways in which Social Anxiety Disorder sufferers tend to cope with their affliction:
- Avoid the social interaction entirely. Something as simple as not going to the store because the cashier saw you smiling awkwardly one time.
- Escape from the situation. Let’s say you’re buying a ticket to the movies. The clerk tells you: “Enjoy!” You respond “you too,” realize what you’ve said and leave the cinema.
- Employing safety behaviors: drinking, avoiding eye contact, daydreaming, etc.
What these behaviors have in common is that they do not help you further your goal of getting rid of SAD.
In fact, all they do is exacerbate the effects, as your mind slowly builds a routine of constantly maintaining a safety bubble.
What Can I Do?
The best thing you can do is seek the help of a professional. Of course, you are also very welcome to keep an eye out here on Social Anxiety Lab for up-to-date information on SAD.
You can also try sharing your experiences with others in your shoes. Talking about these defensive mechanisms can help you identify and correct them more easily.
So, do you daydream a lot? Do you avoid eye contact at parties? Do you just not bother with the party in the first place? Leave your comments below!
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The cat made me feel a lot better. Thank you.
Written on Thu, 05 Jan 2017 06:14:32 by Miley Cyrus