Social Anxiety - causes, symptoms and solutions

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Social anxiety can be totally debilitating as worry and fear dominate a sufferers life. Being bullied around by another person is bad enough, but when the thoughts inside your own head restrict what you do and make you feel anxious it’s time to take action.

‘The mere thought of going to meet a girl is enough to make me feel so anxious that I could throw up’, said Kevin, who went on to describe the feelings of panic that arise at meeting new people. ‘It started when I was bullied at college, not badly, but the taunts worried me so much I started missing lectures. Soon I found myself unable to go to the pub and play football with my mates, when I started work it all got much worse.’

A US report stated that Social Anxiety is the third most common psychiatric disorder after alcoholism and depression. Around seven percent of the population at any given time will suffer from Social Anxiety.

Symptoms of social anxiety can be observed in children under ten and ninety eight percent of people who get it have it by the time they are twenty.

The symptoms of social anxiety are wide ranging and can severely restrict a person life style

  • Unable to use the telephone
  • Fearful of every meeting with a new person
  • Worry that you are being watched and negatively judged by strangers and friends alike
  • Mind goes blank
  • Think that people are staring at you
  • Want to escape from a situation
  • Extensive analysis of past and future situation. What he said ... she said ... I should not have said
  • Fear that will do something embarrassing
  • Anxiety when eating in front of others
  • Any public performance

Social Anxiety can have small beginnings

Like a bush fire destroying enjoyment of life in its terrifying path, social anxiety can spread quickly. For Kevin, being bullied at school created a mental template that ‘people are nasty,’ and led to growing social anxiety. A difficult relationship, trauma, or a bad time at work can do the same.

Social anxiety is not shyness

Shyness over an event or meeting makes us feel awkward and clumsy, but those feelings pass and don’t stop you from doing anything. Social anxiety stops you in your tracks and forces you to avoid things to prevent the discomfort that the anxiety brings.

Social anxiety can make you feel isolated and lonely as you withdraw more and more to avoid the crippling nervousness associated with mixing with others.

Even though you know the thoughts are irrational, it is hard to stop them.

Negative thoughts demand your every attention and leave you unable to enjoy what is happening

Negative evaluation of events and people are the cornerstone of social anxiety and constantly make their presence felt. A chat with a friend or stranger can bring hours of ruminations about what was or could have been said.

The truth gets totally distorted by the sufferers mind set

Sometimes when relaying events as he saw them, Kevin sounded as if he had psychic perception. ‘I just knew that she thought I sounded stupid, and I laughed at all the wrong times.’ When challenged he said he based his ‘assumption’ on the way he thinks all people view him. He had to admit that she had not given any signs to justify his thoughts.

Help for social anxiety is out there

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brief therapy and hypnotic suggestion has proven helpful for many people with social anxiety. Good therapy helps to change the extreme focus on the negative thinking patterns and allow the mind set that creates reaction to shift to a more comfortable way of thinking about the world.

Ask your doctor for a recommendation to a suitable therapist and check out their success rate with other people they have seen with social anxiety.

Learn how to overcome social anxiety

Click here to get a range of tips, tricks and techniques for overcoming social anxiety in your email, created by Mark Tyrrell our co-founder.

About the author

Mark Tyrrell is a therapist, trainer and author and is the co-founder of Hypnosis Downloads, the web's most popular hypnosis site where you can get a cutting-edge hypnosis session for almost any situation.