Social Phobia – Causes and Management
SOCIAL PHOBIA – CAUSES AND MANAGEMENT
We all have a fear of the unknown. All of us invariably experience a slight amount of hesitation or fear when venturing into new company and situations. It is for this reason that most of us prefer to go shopping or even for a holiday with family and friends.
However, in some situations this hesitation actually assumes the shape of an irrational, gigantic fear, where social interaction becomes a source of extreme anxiety. It is this state of mind or phenomenon that is referred to as the Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder.
As per the latest research reports, social phobia or extreme social reluctance is one of the topmost emerging psychological disorders of the modern world. Estimates show at least a whopping 15 million Americans to be suffering from social phobia or social anxiety disorder that threatens to affect the whole quality of life of the individual.
With precipitating factors such as high ambitions, lack of tolerance, poor interpersonal skills and stress, social phobia is fast becoming an epidemic for the contemporary generations. Shockingly, experts point out that the first symptoms of social phobia start developing at an early age of around 13 years.
Social Anxiety – The Phenomenon
The precise social anxiety definition states it to be a severe form of anxiety and stress that arises from the fear of being in social situations. The affected person will possess a strong apprehension of interacting with strangers and being present at social events.
An individual suffering from the social anxiety disorder will often present symptoms like severe nausea, giddiness, blushing, diarrhea, stammering or stuttering, quickened heartbeat, excessive sweating and the like.
This form of anxiety or phobia stems from a series of reasons and causes. In this section, we have discussed some of the key reasons of social anxiety or phobia.
- Low self-esteem
An individual having low self-esteem or self-worth will always lack confidence to face social situations. Having a poor opinion about himself, he will always expect others to think of him in the same way. He will always be apprehensive of being mocked at and will be extremely conscious when in company.
- Unhealthy childhood or experiences
It is very common for individuals with unpleasant past experiences to develop social anxiety. This is because he experiences might have caused severe damage to their self-esteem and communication skills, In fact, quite a few cases of social anxiety can be traced down to unpleasant childhood experiences. The patients have often reported to have suffered from experiences like childhood sexual abuse, bullying at school and severe family conflicts.
Experts also indicate that a way person is brought up plays a major role in the development of this disorder. A child who has received an excessive amount of unreasonable criticism is definitely likely to grow up to be a fearful and anxious individual.
- Imbalanced personal life
A disturbed or non-satisfactory personal life is one of leading reasons for low self-esteem, which can further develop to severe social anxiety. A balanced personal life is very important for a healthy life as it gives one a sense of happiness, stability and self-worth.
- Physiological causes
In some cases, social anxiety or phobia can be caused due to a typical chemical imbalance in the body. Individuals suffering from social anxiety are often found to be having an imbalanced level of serotonin, a mood-regulating chemical in the body. In some other cases, amygdala could also be overactive. This is the component of the brain that controls one’s reactions to stress, fear and anxiety.
Research also shows genetics to be responsible for the development of social phobia in some cases. Parents who have experienced symptoms of social phobia especially when the children were small will usually have a similar effect on the growing up kids.
Handling Social Phobia – Top 3 Key Techniques
As a disorder, social anxiety or phobia develops gradually but takes a firm base once it has set in. It requires a lot of insight, patience and right technique to deal with social anxiety in a proper manner.
In this section, we have listed the top three techniques that help you deal with social anxiety in an effective manner.
- Acceptance and acknowledgement
The first step is to acknowledge your condition. It is very important that the affected individual accepts his problem. Family members and friends play a major role at this stage. They need to be patient and make the person feel normal. The support and care of loved ones is of critical importance at this stage of handling social anxiety.
- Therapies and treatment
The Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of professional treatment for social anxiety disorder. This therapy aims at identifying the cause or trigger factors of your anxiety attacks. Once done, it helps you to ‘unlearn’ the faulty behavior patterns and then re-condition your mind to react to the triggers in the right way.
If social phobia has developed due to the chemical imbalances involving serotonin or amygdala, then the same must be cured through appropriate medication.
In some cases, the individual might also need to take sessions of counseling and alternate remedies such as meditation, hydrotherapy and so on.
- Exposure to stimulus
Once the necessary therapy has been carried out, it is important to give the individual an exposure to the stimulus or factors that trigger off anxiety in the first place. He or she must attempt to venture into the dreaded situations. This step will give back an accurate measure of how much the treatment techniques have actually helped in dealing with the social anxiety disorder.
The social anxiety disorder or social phobia is an intimidating but a manageable condition. It requires the right amount of patience and perseverance to sail through this condition. If left untreated, social anxiety can develop into a major lifelong condition. It can quickly ruin the whole quality of life of the individual, starting right from his/her personal life to professional and social relationships.