Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is when a person experiences excessive amounts of anxiety due to fear of social situations and interaction with others. This anxiety looms from fear of being watched, criticized and judged by others. Individuals with this disorder may stay away from social situations. They have a tendency to isolate and keep to themselves. This disorder can hinder an individual from reaching their personal goals and maintaining strong relationships
A person who suffers from social anxiety disorder fears making mistakes and being humiliated in front of others. Situations where feelings of anxiety arise can lead to panic attacks. These individuals often experience anxiety before a situation occurs, called anticipatory anxiety. These thoughts can consume someone, distracting them from important aspects of their life. The individual may recognize what they’re thinking is unreasonable but they may still experience intense anxiety.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
Individuals with this disorder typically suffer from a distorted thinking patterns. They have false beliefs about society and social situations. When someone leaves this disorder untreated it can have a long lasting negative effect on their life. They may not be able to perform as well in school or other activities important to them. A relationship with a significant other is another area that is affected due to social anxiety. Research concluded that individuals suffering from social anxiety disorder are more likely to experience difficulties in intimate relationships.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder Include:
- Intense anxiety in social situations
- Avoidance of social situations/isolation
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach and diarrhea
Substance Abuse and Social Anxiety
Experts say that drug use increases social anxiety. Researchers agree that abusing drugs or alcohol while pre-disposed to social anxiety disorder makes the problem worse. It has been found to be common for individuals suffering from this disorder to use mild altering substances to feel more comfortable in social situations.
Professionals in the field have said that this type of solution for dealing with social anxiety disorder will only perpetuate worse panic attacks and episodes of anxiety. Certain drugs may induce anxiety attacks in someone who suffers from social anxiety disorder. Individuals with social anxiety disorder may already have a chemical imbalance and using mind-altering substances further alters brain chemistry.
Social anxiety disorder is something that can be overcome with proper treatment. Therapy and counseling has consistently helped relieve people of social anxiety and assisted them in moving on with their life. There are therapists and clinicians that work solely in the field of anxiety disorders. Along with therapy and counseling, there are safe non-narcotic medications on the market that have been formulated to help with social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder affects every aspect of someone’s life. Professionals urge anyone who suffers from social anxiety disorder to seek treatment.