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Social anxiety is not very well understood by the general public and even some health care professionals, but it is a common psychological problem. It can also be referred to as social phobia and it is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations. It commonly starts in the teenage years and can get better over time without treatment. However, it is important to get help if you are experiencing symptoms of social anxiety. 

These can include:

  • Worrying about everyday situations (talking on the phone, meeting new people etc)
  • Avoiding social activities like group conversations or parties
  • Worry about doing something embarrassing (blushing, sweating etc)
  • Find it difficult to do things when others may be watching you
  • Fear of being criticised, avoiding eye contact
  • Feelings of sickness, heart palpitations, sweating or trembling
  • Panic attacks

People who are experiencing social anxiety can feel they are being judged when they are with other people and in social situations. Even though they know that the feelings are unjustified, that doesn’t make the feelings go away. There are lots of things people believe about social anxiety that aren’t true. This article will help dispel some of these untruths.

Myth 1: Social Anxiety is Just Being Nervous

It is true that social anxiety brings with it a variety of symptoms and this can include a feeling of nervousness. If you are suffering from social anxiety you may experience cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioural problems when you are in a social situation that is affecting you.

Myth 2: Social Anxiety is a Problem That You Have to Live With

Social anxiety can become so intense that some people cannot work or even leave the house. Some people who suffer from social anxiety can function well in general and it is just a specific fear that gets in the way. Social anxiety is not a situation that someone has to live with. With effective treatment such as CBT or medication, social anxiety can be overcome. Everyone has the potential to live their life free from fear.

Myth 3: Social Anxiety is the Same as Shyness

Social anxiety and shyness are similar, but they are not the same thing. Social anxiety involves feelings of fear about social situations but it doesn’t always involve withdrawing from these situations. Some people might appear to be outgoing but are very good at hiding their inner feelings of anxiousness. Whereas people who are shy will tend to withdraw from social situations. People who are shy always experience social anxiety, but those who have social anxiety don’t always appear to be shy.

Myth 4: Social Anxiety Isn’t That Common

Social anxiety is experienced by most people at some point in their life. It may have been when giving a presentation in school, or a speech at work as an adult, or when meeting someone for the first time, everyone gets that feeling of butterflies once in a while. It is actually believed that between 2% and 13% of the population is thought to have social anxiety to the point that it could be considered a disorder.

Myth 5: Social Anxiety Only Refers to Public Speaking Fears

In fact, social anxiety refers to a variety of different social and performance situations. These may include formal events such as public speaking and performing. It can also include informal interactions, like meeting strangers or going to a party, or difficult situations such as confrontation or disagreements. It can even include everyday events like eating in front of others. A common thread among each of these triggers is that there is the potential of being judged or evaluated by others and that causes social anxiety.

Myth 6: Social Anxiety Can’t Hurt You

It is true that social anxiety can cause significant impairments in life. Research has shown people with social anxiety may earn less, are less likely to gain a degree and are less likely to be in a professional role. Social anxiety can also cause reduced productivity at work, affect personal relationships, cause high levels of suicidal thoughts and higher use of health care services. Social anxiety disorder can also be related to other mental health issues.

The NHS website offers more information on things you can do yourself to overcome social anxiety. If after reading this article you are worried that you are suffering with social anxiety it is important that you think about getting some help. Anxiety therapy Oxford.

FAQs about Social Anxiety

What is the root of social anxiety?

If you were to really try and put your finger on the root cause of all social anxiety attack you would come up with fear. This is because when we fear we are being judged by others, or when we fear that people don’t understand because fit into societal norms, or when we fear that everything will be worse if we are judged these can all be triggers for social anxiety.

What can social anxiety be mistaken for?

Lots of the symptoms of social anxiety can also be linked with other mental health illnesses such as depression, manic-depressive disorder or other panic disorders. It is important that when talking to a professional you are honest about what the triggers are for you as this will help differentiate the disorder.

What do people with social anxiety think?

People with social anxiety tend to feel very nervous in social situations, or situations where there are lots of people. This is because they are very concerned that they will do something embarrassing or humiliating and then therefore others will think badly of them. People with social anxiety are very self-conscious and constantly feel “on stage.”

Does social anxiety ever go away?

As the person who is suffering gets older, they may then find that their symptoms become less, however, social anxiety is not very likely to go away on its own without treatment. It is really important to get help if you feel you are suffering from social anxiety because it will get better with treatment.

All clinicians at Oxford CBT practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or are Psychologists, providing evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.

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