What is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations.
It is quite common and usually starts during the teenage years.
In some cases it gets better with age, although in many others it does not go away on its own.
The impact of social anxiety on your life in general can be very distressing, but the good news is that there are ways you can deal with it.
Some people think that social anxiety is like shyness but it’s more than that. It’s an overwhelming fear that does not go away and affects every aspect of your life, your self-confidence, relationships and work or school life.
It’s common to worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during and after them.
Here are a few symptoms of social anxiety:
- dread everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping
- avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating with company and parties
- always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent
- find it difficult to do things when others are watching – you may feel like you’re being watched and judged all the time
- fear criticism, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem
- often have symptoms such as feeling sick, sweating, trembling or a pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
- have panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety, usually only for a few minutes
It is quite common for sufferers to have other mental health issues, such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder or body dysmorphic disorder.
How I Treat Social Anxiety
At Behavioural Freedom, I use a skills-based model for treating anxiety. During our sessions, I will teach you relaxation techniques and helpful ways in which you can fundamentally and positively change the way you behave, think and act. It’s also important to note here that you can’t be stressed or suffer from anxiety when you are in a relaxed state. The skills you’ll learn during your time with me will be vital to both your on-going treatment and perhaps more so as you leave my care.
A combination of Applied Relaxation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is considered by the British Medical Journal to be one of the most effective therapies to alleviate anxiety and put you on a path to having a positive mind-set and being able to live life to the fullest, free of worries. By combining both and adding in the element of hypnosis, I believe this is the most effective, pragmatic and relevant approach to the treatment of anxiety.
There are several charities, support groups and online forums for people with social anxiety and other anxiety disorders, including:
- Anxiety UK
- a HealthUnlocked anxiety forum run by Anxiety Support
- Mind and YoungMinds
- Social Anxiety UK, who also have an online forum
- Triumph Over Phobia (TOP UK)