Social Phobia is an inhibiting disorder that causes its sufferers great psychological stress.In some cases, those who fear embarrassment will change their lives to avoid many social situations. This can negatively impact their ability to make friends, and to network for the sake of their careers.
Some measure of social anxiety is to be expected, and can be a normal response to taxing situations such as public speaking engagements and meetings. However, most people find some pleasure in attending social functions and meeting new people.
The person with Social Phobia will find no pleasure in group settings. Instead, they will visualize a whole series of humiliating outcomes, because they feel ill-equipped to handle the pressures of mingling and chatting with others.
The Reasons For Social Phobia
Social phobia does not develop overnight. It is usually the result of prior embarrassment in social situations. Some people do not have a knack for handling group situations and public speaking with true finesse. They may stammer, or fumble for words, due to extreme nervousness. This element of insecurity may lead them to embarrass themselves, or perceive themselves as “embarrassing”.
Sometimes, the fears the Social Phobic has are very overblown. But often there is some basis for their social anxiety. Generally, a few bad experiences in public will bring on some measure of this phobia in sensitive people.
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Symptoms of Social Phobia
Social phobia can provoke physical illness. The tension that fills the phobic person as they contemplate future embarrassments can cause headaches, nausea, sweating, nervousness, and mental anguish.
Social phobia can also cause insomnia in the afflicted. People who fear embarrassment will internalize their worries, and they may toss and turn all night as they play over past embarrassments, and contemplate troubles to come.
Shyness may be a reason for Social Phobia. Some people are simply much shyer than others, and they only feel comfortable within a small circle of friends or colleagues.
Introverts are more likely to suffer from this phobia. Extroverted people enjoy reaching out, and generally get good results from their social interactions. For introverted types, being alone or with just a couple of friends or family members can be more peaceful and satisfying.
Social Phobia Can Start At A Young Age
Many cases of Social Phobia, which is also referred to as Social Anxiety Disorder, start between the ages of 11 and 19.
Unfortunately, the future can be dim for those who develop this anxiety as children or teens. Many people who suffer from Social Phobia end up at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. The struggle with the basic social interactions that are so necessary to almost any career. They may end up on social assistance, or become addicted to numbing substances such as drugs or alcohol. Luckily, treatment is availbale for those with this disorder. It does not have to debilatate a person for the duration of their life.
Social Phobia may surface as a result of bullying, disability, or a persistent feeling of being excluded from a group or clique. It may not be the person’s fault that they are excluded. They may have something about their personality that makes them easy targets for cruel people. For example, some people with Social Phobia report teasing in childhood as a result of their obesity, harelips, effeminate behavior (in boys), or even port-wine birthmarks.
The emotional pain they suffer as a result makes them lose faith in others, and in human kindness. They retreat, certain that the only way to remain unhurt is to avoid others.
But not everyone with Social Phobia has these experiences. Some people appear attractive and smooth in their interactions with others. Yet, they still have intense social anxiety. They take pains to hide this aspect of themselves from others, and the effort is exhausting to them.
Treatment Of Social Phobia
Anti-depressants such as Xanax and Klonopin have been used to treat the symptoms of this phobia, but they can also cause detrimental side effects. As well, there is a high rate of relapse when patients stop taking their medication.
A skilled psychiatrist or psychotherapist is often a better option for people with this disorder. When they are able to open up to someone else, in a “safe” setting, they may find some new confidence in themselves. As well, they will be able to share their feelings, instead of bottling them up. Therapy can be a healthy and essential part of recovery for those with this disorder.
If you suffer from Social Phobia, finding the courage to get help is the best thing you can do.