CENTERS’ PIECE: Social anxiety and the struggle against isolation

by Symptom Advice on January 29, 2012

A woman stares at the phone on the table in front of her, feeling tormented because she’s afraid to pick it up and make a call she has been putting off for a week and can no longer postpone. she silently tells herself she is acting irrationally, that there is no reason to feel afraid to call an unknown person in a business office 500 miles away. she believes she was overcharged on her electric bill last month and has avoided calling the electric company because she’s afraid she’ll be “putting someone out” and they will be upset with her. She’s especially afraid to call people she knows because she feels that she’ll be calling at the wrong time — the other person will be busy — and they won’t want to talk with her anyway,  leading to feelings of rejection before she ever even picks up the phone. Once the call is made and over, she sits and analyzes what was said, what tone it was said in, and how she believes she was perceived by the other person. Anxiety and racing thoughts concerning the call prove to her that she messed this conversation up also, just like she always does. sometimes she gets embarrassed just thinking about the call.the above situation is just a glimpse into one of the many situations that can trigger social anxiety and its effect on a person. many people experience feelings like these when they interact with others, leading them to avoid social interaction. Social anxiety affects approximately 15 million people in the United States. it is equally common among men and women, and typically begins in adolescents. According to a 2007 Anxiety Disorders Association of America survey, 36 percent of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.  Social anxiety is diagnosed when a person experiences feelings of overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. People with social anxiety have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear that others are watching and/or judging them, and of doing things that will embarrass them.  This fear may become so severe that it interferes with daily activities such as work and school, and can make it hard to make and keep friends leading to feelings of isolation and depression.  A person’s social anxiety may be limited to one situation, such as talking to people, or could be generalized, leading to feelings of anxiety around anyone with whom they are not extremely close. other feared situations may include: eating or drinking in front of others, writing or working in front of others, being the center of attention, interacting with people; including dating or going to parties, asking questions or giving reports in groups. When confronted with the fear-provoking situation a person with social anxiety will experience intense anxiety, and avoidance of those feared situations. Physical symptoms such as: confusion, pounding heart, sweating, shaking, blushing, muscle tension, and upset stomach may also be present. People with social anxiety are often mistakenly perceived as being shy, uninterested, nervous, and unfriendly. in fact, they want to be friendly and open but feel too anxious to act on that desire.A person’s friendships are not the only relationships impacted by social anxiety. Oftentimes, the anxiety places a strain on family and spouse relationships. the people who have a loved one with social anxiety can experience a range of emotions. Anger and resentment over the activities and family gatherings that your loved one avoids, guilt about criticizing too harshly when your anger gets out of control, frustration over feeling powerless to help or comfort them are emotions that can be difficult to deal with on your own. if this article struck a chord for you because you identify personally with it or it reminds you of someone you know, please know that social anxiety is a treatable condition. Treatment varies based on the severity of the anxiety but therapy is the best place to start. if you have questions, concerns, or would like more information please give us a call at 432-580-7006.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: