Warning Signs Of Social Anxiety
You are on the short-list for a big promotion at work. Your boss tells you there is a condition: All you need to do is nail the Zoom call with potential investors. You spend the next 24 hours, your stomach tied in knots, then defer to a co-worker. Your co-worker, excited about the opportunity, impresses everyone during the meeting – and gets rewarded with what should have been your promotion. You may have a social anxiety disorder.
WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Health, Social anxiety appears as “persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating.”
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY?
Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder could include profuse sweating, blushing, trembling, vomiting, or other digestive problems, fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness, headaches, and feeling detached or having lost self-control. Everyone can commiserate with feeling nervous before speaking during a presentation or asking someone to go on a first date.
But people suffering from social anxiety disorder have a deep fear of being studied and negatively assessed by others in performance or social settings. Some literally get ill from fear in apparently non-threatening situations.
Social anxiety is often choosy. Some people may harbor an extreme dread of talking to a police officer or making a speech, but they might be happy in other comparable situations.
Others could become anxious during routine events like beginning a conversation with a visitor or an authority figure, participating in classes or meetings, or dating and going to social gatherings.
Here is another example of how social anxiety could manifest itself for one person without, and one person with, the condition. Whereas you may feel anxious before making a presentation, leading a meeting, or lobbying for a raise, someone with social anxiety disorder would avoid those scenarios completely, regardless of the outcome.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF SOCIAL ANXIETY?
Research to uncover the causes of social anxiety is ongoing, with a few investigations implicating a small formation in the brain known as the amygdala, which is believed to control fear responses. But it is also believed to be heritable. A person’s first-degree relations post a two to six times higher likelihood of developing social anxiety. National Institute of Mental Health-supported research has identified the location of a gene in rodents which affects learned fearfulness. Scientists are investigating the notion that sensitivity to disapproval could be psychological or hormonal. Other possibilities include the environment, childhood maltreatment, and adversity as risks.
COMPLICATIONS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY
The symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be treated, often with psychotherapy or the use of medicine like ketamine, but there are potential complications from the illness itself, especially if left untreated:
- Interference with school, work, relationships, or pleasure of life
- Poor self-esteem
- Problems being confident
- Bad self-talk
- Hypersensitivity to critique
- Weak social skills
- Isolation and troubling social interactions
- Poor academic and employment history
- Substance abuse, like overconsumption of alcohol
- Suicide or suicide tries
- Other mental health disorders and certain other mental health conditions, especially substance abuse issues and major depressive disorder, often co-exist with social anxiety disorder
WHO’S AT RISK?
Many factors can increase the chance of developing a social anxiety disorder, including:
You’re more likely to develop the disorder if your blood relatives have the condition.
Children who experience rejection, bullying, teasing, embarrassment, or mockery can be more vulnerable to social anxiety.
Children who are withdrawn, timid, shy, or hindered when facing new situations or people could be a bigger risk.
Social anxiety symptoms usually begin during the teen years, but giving a speech at work, meeting new people, or giving an important work presentation can prompt symptoms for the first time.
Having an appearance or condition that draws attention.
FIND TREATMENT THAT WORKS
Social anxiety symptoms are sometimes confirmed through a physical exam, which is used to rule out medical problems as a cause. The doctor may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include ketamine, sometimes referred to as a “novel mechanism” for treating social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorders affect millions of Americans, but the illness is not a “life sentence” or excuse to stop living. If you or a loved one suffers from social anxiety or other mental health ailments, contact us today to learn more about the innovative new treatment options that are available.