According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
~ Jerry Seinfeld
~ Jerry Seinfeld
While a fear of public speaking may be a phenomenon that is nearly ubiquitous, a petrifying fear of social interactions, involvement in social activities is something that doesn't fall under the category of usual quirks of human nature. Being the social animals, a fear of social situations and interpersonal interactions would seem strange to say the least!
Understand the difference between shyness and social phobia. Shyness is mere HESITATION to make one's social presence felt in any significant way, social phobia is an irrational FEAR of facing people and partaking in social activities which becomes a negative behavioral trait, so that the personal, professional lives of sociophobics are negatively affected!
It no longer remains a self-confidence issue but assumes the proportions of paranoia and severe, unfounded anxiety. So, what is social anxiety disorder and how should this condition be managed? Come, let's take a look at its symptoms and try to understand the causes and look into the particulars of treating this psychological condition.
Social Anxiety Disorder Causes and Symptoms
Social anxiety syndrome is characterized by the affected individual becoming overcome with morbid fear and visible distress on having to face social situations.
The fear and distress of social situations, or a possibility thereof, is often so intense that it may even interfere with the subject's ability to perform certain regular or important functions such as collecting mail from the mailbox or shopping for grocery!
A number of causes are speculated to be responsible for inducing the psychological and behavioral anomalies associated with social phobia. The most common causes are said to be negative social experiences and genetic factors that may be hereditary in nature.
An abnormal or extremely sensitive fight-or-flight mechanism, which is triggered when certain stress hormones are produced in the body (that inducing the typical biological panic indications such as higher pulse rate, faster breathing and high blood pressure), follows close on the heels as a prime cause of social phobia disorder.
Abnormally low self-esteem, social or cultural stigma associated with the individual's past or present situation (unwed motherhood and infertility, for instance), physical or emotional abuse as well as substance abuse can lead to the development of social anxiety syndrome in a psychologically sensitive person.
Symptoms of social anxiety in children as well as adults are, more or less, common. The most prominent indication of social anxiety is an extremely high level of self-consciousness and constant apprehension with regards to one's image and other people's opinions about oneself.
This leads to a morbid fear of facing situations where the subject feels he/she might be subject to scrutiny of other people and his/her actions may be critically judged. The fear does not stem from believing that one will be judged, the fear comes from the fear that he/she would fail the evaluation.
The psychological indications often manifest physiologically in the form of dizziness, excessive sweating, stammering, nausea, palpitations, mental confusion and shakiness of the limbs.
Managing Social Anxiety Disorder
Counseling and psychotherapy are the most common methods of treating and managing this psychological condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy goes a long way in instilling self-confidence and modifying those behavior altering beliefs that make an individual irrationally afraid of social interactions and public situations.
SSRI antidepressants may be administered to provide relief from physical symptoms during phobic fits. Prescription tranquilizers are often administered in very severe cases to calm the disturbed state psychophysiological state of the affected individual.
Since most cases of SAD are deep-rooted in the psyche of the subject, besides professional counseling, love and emotional support from friends and family members is very important in order to enable the sufferer to overcome social anxiety by gaining enough confidence in himself to face the world without inhibitions.
Achieving this does take time and a lot of patience and willingness on the part of the subject as well as his/her family and friends but the gradual progress, needless to say, is worth all of it.