What is “social anxiety”?

Anxiety is one of the common personality traits of modern people. It develops under the influence of family, negative information in the media, or other factors. Anxiety is understood as a personality trait that makes a person feel anxious for many reasons and fear of being misunderstood or ridiculed. Unlike people who do not experience an increased need for communication, socially anxious people experience not pleasure, but suffering from forced silence and loneliness.

Social anxiety and low need for communication

Socially anxious people are often confused with so-called “introverts” – those who avoid frequent contact with others and prefer to spend time alone. But if some people do not always need communication or they seek to limit it because they are so comfortable, then others want to communicate with friends, colleagues, build relationships with the opposite sex and are afraid of being ridiculed or rejected. This distinguishes social anxiety from a limited need to interact with people.

The absence of an increased need to communicate with people (or a narrow circle of “chosen ones” with whom a person easily finds a common language) is an innate property of temperament. Social anxiety is acquired by a person in the course of unsuccessful adaptation experience – difficulties in understanding with parents or peers. A child who is embarrassed and ridiculed about interacting with other children is more likely to suffer from social anxiety in the future.

If communication with a large number of people is not a basic need of a person, then this does not mean that he cannot be confident in himself. A socially anxious person often suffers from an inferiority complex, and this prevents him from moving forward. A person may not feel the need to demonstrate emotions or feelings, but at the same time be confident. The same cannot be said for socially anxious people.  

Why does a person avoid communication with people?

Social personal anxiety is most often associated with childhood trauma – excessive parental demands or rejection by peers. Children who are afraid to seek help from significant adults become socially anxious . And parents expect high academic, sports or artistic success from the child and criticize him if for some reason he cannot achieve them.   

A child who does not have the necessary basic trust in the world and emotional feedback from significant adults begins to fear being misunderstood. In kindergarten or school, he is afraid that he will not be accepted into the game. Social anxious children often have peer conflicts and feelings of loneliness. They also often develop a fear of public speaking or the need to contact workers in public institutions. There may be only one unpleasant episode associated with a public speech, but fear persists for many years.

People with pronounced personal anxiety often suffer from an inferiority complex. The fear of interacting with other people is associated with the fear of appearing stupid or saying something that others will not like. Often socially anxious people are perfectionist. In their opinion, the conversation or action should be perfect or not. This forces them to think through the smallest details of conversations with contact center staff or salespeople. And when public speaking is necessary, panic seizes them in advance.

Social personal anxiety is expressed not only in psychological, but also in physical discomfort. Such unpleasant symptoms as a rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, a faltering voice may appear long before the event associated with the need to actively communicate with other people. A constant state of anxiety significantly impairs the quality of life in children and adults.  

The constant feeling of fear and anxiety about the need to communicate with people leads to the development of anxiety disorder. And in this case, a person may need the help of a psychologist or psychotherapist. If a person does not find pleasure in attending corporate parties, but does not feel fear, this is a variant of the norm. But if already in advance he experiences panic attacks at the mere thought of the need to communicate with people, then we are talking about a probable anxiety disorder.

Modern psychotherapy uses a wide variety of methods to get rid of anxiety disorders. First of all, you need to find out the cause of the fear of interacting with people, and then work on behavioral patterns and perform special exercises aimed at managing feelings and emotions. The therapy can take more than one month or even more than one year. Group psychotherapy sessions will help to build a new scheme of contacts with people.

In some cases, medication is needed to treat anxiety disorder. It includes antidepressants and sedatives, which should only be taken under the supervision of a healthcare professional. With a low level of availability of psychotherapeutic care in the village where the patient lives, remote interaction with the psychotherapist is possible.

Often people with obsessive fear of public speaking or social contact are encouraged to participate in community events as volunteers or assistants. As a psychological exercise, they are encouraged to ask any questions to guests, even if they seem ridiculous and stupid. Often, after such an experience, socially anxious people find it easier to communicate with others.

The success of psychotherapy depends on the regularity of the recommendations of the specialist and the willingness of the patient to work on himself. Many people find it difficult to decide to take the first step, even with strong physical symptoms. Some are afraid to trust a stranger or make a mistake when choosing a specialist. But mental health and psychological comfort require the same close attention as physical health.

Obsessive fears and anxiety poison the life of the patient himself, making him feel his own inferiority and failure. The most important prerequisite for getting rid of obsessive feelings of anxiety is learning to work with and manage your fears. A person who knows how to control himself easily copes even with an unfamiliar social situation.

event_note November 11, 2020

account_box Winona Tse MD

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