Are you having social anxiety disorder, have you ever being so dead with dread at the thought of the oncoming dentist’s appointment? Do you get goosebumps at the thought of getting reacquainted with someone who was present when your joke felt flat and you feel like a lunatic? Or do you go three miles in order to get a service station with indirect gas pumping? If yes, welcome to the world of social anxiety disorder, where benign activities and situation seem more dangerous than they really are.
It dawned on me when, as a psychology assignment, I wrote on what “goes on after dark” that I might have social anxiety disorder. My teacher signed off the assignment as being vaguely hyped, hyper narrative and sounding like i was having a “complete nervous breakdown“. Panic and perception of other people’s “judgment” towards me and the need to harden or brace myself before sleeping at night or turning of the bedside lamp.
It’s paramount to note the difference between phobia and social anxiety disorder, in that social anxiety disorders although closely linked to phobia (fear of the dark-nyctophobia, fear of strangers-Xenophobia) and can be directed to particular phobias, they are generalized.
Fortunately for us all, there are ways around this, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. According to the Anxiety and Depressing Association of America, many affected individuals stay decades before they get help, it’s not advised. Get help as early and soon as possible.
1. You Develop Scripts Before A Social Encounter:
If you go into into society with preplanned scripts or rehearsed thoughts and responses in your head, or plan out various ways to deal with or escape social encounter, you may have social anxiety disorder.
You do this in order to minimize the occurrences of you being looked upon as “silly”, “stupid” or “dumb”. People living with Social anxiety disorder often find themselves “protecting” their images or reducing the risks of them saying something weird or out of line on whatever’s topic is going on.
They develop and rehearse scripts and responses in a bid to gain confidence of getting the words out, not yelling or crying or totally embarrassing themselves.
2. You’re constantly clearing the air on people’s opinion about you:
One of the greatest hall marks of social anxiety disorder is the internal narration, a kind of empathetic projection gone wrong.
Subconsciously, your social anxiety tends to tell you “what do they think?” “Did that minor pause mean they disapprove?” “Do they think I’m a lunatic?”, even if you don’t realize it.
Although not rational or healthy, individuals suffering from social anxiety disorder create scenarios and imagined realities in which everybody else is judgmental, social, full of animosity, and prone to reacting poorly to our minor mistakes.
3. Meeting and talking to strangers is not your forte:
Social anxiety can also be manifested in behavior. This means that, the victims tend to become “avoiders” of situations that involves their active participation of speech in a bid to escape being looked upon as a “dummy”.
Staying at the garage or basement during a party or get together, or escaping being noticed by speaking too little or not at all, trying to make oneself as invisible as air, and sometimes even getting friends to order food from service desks or restaurants.
Generally doing all the things that would make you not “expose” yourself.
4. Common mistakes in public “haunt” you:
People with social anxiety disorder try really hard to look rational and apparent in social functions, this is innocuous and unobjectionable, they don’t realize people do not really care about this.
And if we say something we’re not totally proud of? It might potentially haunt us for days, weeks even.
Thomas Richards over at the Psychologist Network sums up the nasty feedback loop of social anxiety and its consequences:
it’s “the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.”
We can’t just “shake off the sensation that somebody thinks we’re dumb. It’s a seriously nasty feedback loop.
5. You experience panic attacks relative to social activities:
Your disorder does not stop at your mind, it goes further to affect your body as well. Panic and anxiety attacks can aggravate on the confrontation with social activities or gatherings.
And when the inevitable happens (when you say something that you feel will haunt you), there are among others, a racing heart, sweating, blushing, an adrenaline rush, an overpowering urge to run, nausea, muscle tension, or dizziness as all symptoms of social anxiety disorder. These are typical of panic and anxiety disorders, representing the body’s fight-or-flight response to fear, and even at low levels, they do show that this stuff is very real and genuinely upsetting as The Mayo Clinic lists.
6. Adjusting your life around social terrors:
Being antisocial or introverted although closely associated with social anxiety is purely different and unique in their own ways.
Being uptight with associating with people because they tire you out or you live being by your self is different from being worried or highly anxious about socialising because you fear judgement and feel safe and secured by your own self.
Social anxiety disorder can make you rearrange your life to stop yourself from being as social as you’d like, mainly due to your anxiety. If it’s far easier not to show up at the movies/out for food/that comic book meet-up because you’ll just be miserably recapping the social evidence of your own failure for days afterwards, it’s got a grip on your life.
7. You’ve noticed these since your early teens:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association often has the go-to definition of mental disorders, and their one for social anxiety disorder has a time limit: you have to have felt like this for six months to qualify. But it’s been pointed out that most social anxiety disorder victims have been through much more than that. The typical age when it appears, according to scientists, is around 13, though it’s broadly common for it start between the ages of 11 and 19. That’s when we’re most self-conscious, as our teenage brains become much more sensitive to the reactions of others. (It’s actually pretty rare for social anxiety disorder to show up after the age of 25, so if you’ve made it that far, you might be all right.)
Studies have also shown that teasing and bullying as a child or teen is prone to causing social anxiety disorder as an adult; a 2003 study found that 92 percent of its subjects with social anxiety disorder reported being the target of serious bullying at some point in their lives. It’s not a guaranteed outcome, but there does seem to be a link.
The decisive point;
If any of these problems are reoccurring or have gone on for quite some time, you can have a chat with one of our expert psychiatrist on instagram or facebook or meet up with an expert psychiatrist, preferably one who is well acquainted with anxiety and phobias related disorders. You can also take a family member or close friend to the appointment to help fill up the blanks. Treatment will be gradual and highly effective, there’s no cause to worry, you’ll be fine.
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