Do you have social anxiety, are you shy, or think you might be? Do you feel the need to over-prepare yourself for a social gathering like an event or party? If so, there is a good chance that you suffer from Social Anxiety. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is not just extreme shyness but a real disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by fear and self-consciousness when one is subjected to social situations. This, in turn, can cause depression and personality changes. It has been said that as many as 40 million people suffer from this condition and that 10 million Americans will be affected by it at some point. If you are not sure if you actually suffer from the disorder, read further to find out.
Social anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear of meeting new people or going to a social gathering. People with social anxiety have an extreme fear of being judged or watched by others. We all feel nervous and anxious to meet new people or to mingle in a new environment, but this anxiety creates a new level of stress, which in turn depresses the individual when they are in social situations.
Shyness and social anxiety share many common traits, but there is a mild line of difference between them. As a child you may be a very shy kid, you usually avoid crowds and playing with new kids. This may feel normal, but as a parent of a shy child, they must analyze whether it is something more than that.
For a condition like Social Anxiety Disorder, the symptoms start early in childhood. Most people don’t seek help, because they misjudge it as extreme shyness. Statistics show that although symptoms usually start in childhood, only about 50% of adults with the disorder receive treatment and those who do seek treatment wait a long time to do so, 15 to years after symptoms begin.
People with shyness feel nervous before entering into social situations, but in case of Social anxiety they start the nervousness even a week or month before, and even they have sleepless nights feeling anxious about this social gathering. This extreme fear of a social situation is a major difference.
Social anxiety can cause physical symptoms like a raised heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath.
Shyness doesn’t cause an impairment of functions `in a person’s daily activities, but a social anxiety’s fear can extremely affect the daily chores.
Your doctor or mental health care professional can conduct an in-depth interview to determine whether you meet the criteria for a diagnosis of SAD or it is just shyness. However, as an initial step, you can take a screening measure to determine the need for a more thorough follow-up evaluation.
The screening test consists of 25 questions, each of which consists of 5 standard responses, which is measured in a 4 point Likert scale. The value for each question is noted and summed up to attain the overall score.
Like other anxiety disorders, Social anxiety disorder is also a condition that can be reversed. What you need to do is to watch closely on your social fears, whether you can make some little lifestyle changes, behavior modifications to overcome them or you may seek help from a medical health practitioner or a therapist, who can suggest further evaluation and treatment for your mental condition. The one thing you should remember is you must be aware of what you are going through to maintain inner harmony and peace.