Did you ever feel afraid to go out? Even to the mall? You might be suffering from a Social Phobia
By Jenny Bishop September 3, 2013
Everyone is afraid of something. Everyone experiences nervousness, anxiety and even in superior feelings around certain people. Some people possess these feelings so deeply that their fear is considered irrational.
Even they realize that it is irrational and that they have a phobia. Millions of people suffer from phobias every day of their lives. The third largest psychological disorder in the United States is what psychologists have labelled a social phobia.
A social phobia is the fear of social situations and the interactions with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgement, evaluation, and scrutiny. They cannot overcome a social phobia without the patient first grasping exactly what triggers their fears, and then learning how to receive proper help.
A social anxiety disorder or social phobia is the constant fear of being criticized or evaluated by other people. People with a social phobia are nervous, anxious, and afraid about many social situations. Simply attending a business meeting or going to a company party can be highly nerve wracking and intimidating. Although people with social anxiety want very much to be social with everyone else, their anxiety about not doing well in public is strong and hinders their best efforts. They freeze up when they meet new people, especially authority figures. They are particularly afraid that other people will notice that they are anxious, so this fear enables the anxiety to grow and turn into a vicious cycle.
One example, a woman hates to stand in the grocery store because she is afraid that everyone is watching her. She knows that it is not really true, but she cannot shake the feeling. While she is shopping, she is conscious of the fact that people might be staring at her from the big mirrors on the inside front of the ceiling.
Now, she has to talk to the person who is checking out the groceries. She tries to smile, but her voice comes out weakly. She is sure she is making a fool of herself. Her self-consciousness and anxiety rise to extremes. Many symptoms go hand in hand with this terrible phobia. The feelings that accompany a social phobia include anxiety, intense fear, negative thinking cycles, racing heart, blushing and trembling. In public places, such as work, meetings, or shopping, people with a social phobia feel that everyone is staring at them (even though, rationally, they know this is not true.)The socially anxious person can never relax when other people are around. It always seems as others are evaluating them, judging them, or being critical of them, so in turn, resisting social situations is much easier for the sufferer. Some specific symptoms are those people, for example, who cannot write in public because they fear people are watching and their hand will shake. Others are too overly introverted, and they find it too difficult to hold down a job.
Some cannot eat in public or “freeze” when they step into a public situation. The suffered tries to avoid introductions to new people, being the focal point, or being observed while doing something, because it triggers their uncomfortable nature. Once the patient understands the sickness, they can make measures to help maintain these horrible feelings and overcome the sickness. When the phobias interfere with a person’s life, treatment can help. Because few socially-anxious people have heard of their own problem, and have never seen it discussed on any of the television talk shows, they think they are the only ones who have these terrible symptoms. Therefore, they keep quiet about them. It would be too horrific if everyone realized how much anxiety they experienced in daily life. Unfortunately, without some kind of education, knowledge and treatment, social anxiety continues to wreck havoc throughout their lives.
Adding to the dilemma, when a person with a social phobia gets up the nerve to seek help, the chances that they can find it are very slim. In fact, Psychiatrists have misdiagnosed people with a social phobia almost 98% of the time. People with a diagnosable DSM-IV social phobia have been mislabeled “schizophrenic,” “manic-depressive,” “clinically depressed,” “panic disordered,” and “personally disordered,” among many other misdiagnoses. Successful treatment usually involves a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy called desensitization or exposure therapy, where psychologists gradually expose patients to what frightens them until the fear begins to fade. This treatment provides methods, techniques, and strategies that all combine to lessen anxiety and make the world a much more enjoyable place.
Therapy may involve learning to view social events differently, and exercises on relaxation and breathing also to help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Three-fourths of the patients benefit significantly from this type of treatment. A social phobia responds to a relatively short-term therapy, like twelve to twenty meetings, depending on the severity of the condition. Socially-anxious people do not need years and years of therapy.
Consequently, psychiatrists who teach people to “analyze” and “ruminate” over their problem’s usually make their social anxiety’s worse. Currently, no proven drug treatment for specific phobias has yet been found, but sometimes Psychiatrists may prescribe certain medications to help reduce anxiety symptoms before someone faces a phobic situation. Scientists have proven some medications effective when used with cognitve-behavioral therapy, about 80% effective.
One medication includes antidepressants called MAO inhibitors. Drugs called beta-blockers have helped people with specific form of a social phobia called a performance phobia. Klonopin is another kind of drug, and it helps calm the patient down enough to undergo treatment. Without treatment, a social phobia is a torturous emotional problem; with treatment, its bark is worse than its bite. Once the patient realizes that they have a phobia, treatment can substantially reduce their problems. Treatment may be found from any specialist who understands this problem and knows how to treat it. Getting over social anxiety is not an easy task, yet many thousands have already done it.
“Life is just one gut-wrenching anxiety problem after another,” says Ph.D. Thomas Richards.
However, the patient can quench this in a short period of time-but a cognitive-behavioral therapist who understands and specializes 8in the treatment of social anxiety.