Social anxiety disorder, also more commonly known as social phobia, is a common type of anxiety & mental health condition that is characterised by intense fear and anxiety in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder have an intense worry about being judged, embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. This excessive fear can negatively impact daily life and make them avoid social events, occupationally and personally.
What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder typically develops during the teenage years but can happen at any point in life. While the exact causes are unknown, it likely results from a combination of biological and environmental factors. Risk factors include:
- Genetics – having blood relatives with anxiety disorders
- Traumatic social experiences during childhood or adolescence
- Being naturally shy or inhibited
- Having an overprotective or critical caregiver
People with social anxiety disorder often have distorted negative thoughts about themselves, believing they are inadequate, inferior or unlikable. They may fixate on their anxiety symptoms, fearing that others will notice and judge them.
Common Complications Of Social Phobia
Social phobia can lead to depression due to constant anxiety and isolation. Substance abuse may develop as a coping mechanism for social anxiety. Avoiding anxiety-provoking situations can increase isolation and impair relationships.
Academic and career potential suffers due to impaired performance in social settings like classes or meetings. Missed social opportunities lead to disconnection from social supports.
In severe cases, agoraphobia can develop, making it difficult to leave home. Seeking professional help early on can prevent these complications and allow people to overcome social anxiety.
Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social anxiety disorder experience intense anxiety in certain social situations because they fear being scrutinised or judged by others. Common situations that trigger anxiety include:
- Meeting new people
- Starting conversations
- Being teased or criticised
- Being the center of attention
- Public speaking
- Eating or drinking in front of others
- Using public restrooms
- Attending parties or other social gatherings
Physical symptoms of anxiety may include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and lightheadedness. Sufferers may experience anxiety symptoms weeks or months before an anticipated feared situation.
Some people have such high levels of anxiety that they completely avoid many social situations, isolating themselves from others.
Seeking Treatment For Social Anxiety Disorder
There are many effective treatments available to help people with social anxiety disorder manage their symptoms and improve their ability to function in social situations. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one option that can help modify distorted negative thought patterns and develop healthy coping strategies. Gradually exposing patients to feared social situations through exposure therapy in a safe, controlled environment can also help desensitise them to triggers of anxiety.
Social skills training that focuses on building communication and social skills can also be beneficial. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and other antidepressants have been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety in many patients. Joining support groups can provide understanding, encouragement and advice from others facing similar challenges with social anxiety disorder.
The approach applied may include one or a combination of Buddhist Psychotherapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, NLP, Hypnotherapy and other counselling methods. With regular evaluations to ensure you are progressing well, our therapists will work with you to determine your ideal social balance and introduce strategies to help you attain it. If you’d like to start hypnosis today, you can download our Social Phobia Self Hypnosis recording to listen to at home.
You can meet with one of our practitioners online via secure video conferencing, or in-person at our Highett clinic. Please call us on (03) 9557 9113 or use our contact form to find out if we may be able to help you enjoy your social life again. Your call or email is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.
How Can Social Anxiety Treatment Help?
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, can make life very difficult. The intense anxiety, fear or panic some people feel in social situations can be extremely debilitating. Avoiding school, work, parties and other social gatherings is common. However, there are many ways to manage social anxiety and regain control.
Seeking help is the first step in overcoming social anxiety. Speaking to a mental health professional can provide reassurance, guidance and access to treatment. Effective options include cognitive behavioural therapy to modify thought patterns, exposure therapy to gradually face feared social situations, and medications like SSRIs to reduce symptoms. Joining a support group can also provide community, advice and encouragement from others successfully managing social anxiety disorder.
While social anxiety treatment takes time and commitment, gaining knowledge about the condition and available options puts you on the path to recovery. Arm yourself with an arsenal of techniques like deep breathing, positive thinking exercises and social skills training. Take small steps to increase social activity at your own pace. Celebrate victories and don’t get discouraged by setbacks.
Rather than allow social anxiety disorder to limit life, seek help to build confidence and resilience. The possibilities are endless once social fears no longer stand in the way. Take control today and start down the road to reducing anxiety and boosting social, occupational and interpersonal success.
Bayside Psychotherapy – Melbourne Social Anxiety Treatment & Counselling
Do you have any questions for us? Get in touch with us through our online contact form.
Call Bayside Psychotherapy on (03) 9557 9113 to find out if we’re able to help you. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.
Self-hypnosis may also work well when used in conjunction with counselling. You can download our Social Phobia Self Hypnosis recording from our website.
Note: Whilst we will do our best to assist you, we will rely upon your commitment to and participation in the treatment process to optimise results. Although some of our therapists work with people presenting with this condition, no guarantees of any outcomes can be made.
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