Overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder

Are you or someone you know be considered terminally shy? Would you rather play the wallflower than the life of the party? Do you get more than butterflies in the stomach when you are about to give a speech in public? Being a little jittery about your public appearance or performance is normal, but when it comes to a point when you worry about it for days and the thought of making your speech makes you sick, it may not be just plain shyness. It may be social anxiety disorder or social phobia.

What is social phobia?

Social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of social interaction or social situations. It can be a specific social situation or social situations in general.  It can come when one is standing before a crowd, mingling with other people at a party or other social situations.

There is this desire to interact with other people, but fear surmounts this desire. The fear may be rooted in anxiety about being humiliated, embarrassed or judged and found wanting. The very thought of that social event can cause enough anxiety to make one physically sick.

Symptoms can include:
– profuse sweating, clammy hands, trembling (hands and voice)
– dizziness or feeling faint
– nausea or upset stomach
– shortness of breath
– Being over self-conscious
– Worrying about a prospective social event
– Worrying that others will notice one’s nervousness

Even though the person is conscious that the physical reactions are illogical and exaggerated, he can’t help the way he feels. As a result, someone with social phobia would go to great lengths just to avoid any social situation. He would much rather stay in the background, or, if he really needs to attend a social function, he will need to take someone along to provide support.

And this is something that is not uncommon in the country. Over 10% of the population can be considered as having social anxiety disorder at some point of their life, with slightly more males suffering from the disorder as compared to females. The shyness may already be having a strong impact in their lives – especially if the person finds it hard to go for job interviews and interact with other people. A person with social phobia can get Provo counseling to put a stop to the fear and how it negatively affects his ability to live a normal life.

The good news is that one can learn to overcome social anxiety disorder and start enjoying the company of others and coming out of one’s shell. Aside from coming for Utah counseling, one can also:
– Be aware of triggers. To manage the phobia, it is good to start recognizing events or situations that trigger the phobia and get advice from Utah counselors for ways to cope with these situations. These triggers include:
o   Being called to speak in public
o   Having other people’s attention focused on you (like being asked to go to the board in class, speaking during a meeting and so on)
o   Mingling at parties
o   Introducing yourself to new people
o   Performing for an audience
o   Eating out at restaurants
– Practice calming and relaxation techniques. When you are nervous, the tendency is to hyperventilate. As you lose control of your breath, you start palpitating, your muscles harden, you get all choked up and dizzy. Learn to take deep calming breaths so as to alleviate the symptoms.
– Question negative attitudes and thoughts. Sometimes the fear is triggered by one’s negative imagination. You start thinking negatively and you see all the possible bad things that can happen. Such thoughts can be debilitating. Based on the advice of Provo counselors, you can counter the onset of your fear by challenging the negative thoughts. Ask, “What’s the probability of that actually happening?”, “Will people really laugh at me even when I get nervous?” “Will the situation really be disastrous?” One way to help counter negative thoughts is to observe what other people are actually saying and doing, rather than your negative thoughts.
– Rather than dwell on the negative, think of the positive. Think of what you stand to gain by doing what you feared. Imagine your act as going one step closer to your goals – getting that job promotion, being able to improve your social life, or doing well in class.
– Instead of avoiding what you fear, face them. The more you avoid what you fear, in this case, social interaction, the more you become fearful of them. Facing what you fear is your definitive step to breaking the cycle. Of course, you cannot expect to face your biggest fears right off the bat. Start with baby steps and take on more challenges as you grow in confidence.

These are just some things you can do to conquer your fears. However, there are times when you need to go to of Provo therapists to become equipped with more techniques to cope and finally overcome your social phobia. Your fears may seem insurmountable, but one can climb the top of the highest mountain with patience, determination and a lot of help.

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