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Social Anxiety: Symptoms and Treatment

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder leads to avoidance which can interrupt your life. Severe conditions may affect your daily routines, relationships, school, work, or other activities. It can be a chronic mental health condition, but learning coping skills in psychotherapy and taking medications can help you gain confidence and improve your ability to interact with others.

It’s normal to feel anxious in some social situations. For instance, going to a game or giving a presentation may cause that feeling of cramps in your stomach. But in this condition, everyday interactions cause significant anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment because you fear being examined or judged negatively by others. This is also known as social phobia.

What are the Symptoms of Social Anxiety?

This condition is more than shyness. It is a fear that does not go away and affects everyday activities, relationships, self-confidence, and school or work life. Numerous people rarely worry about social situations, but someone with this condition feels overly anxious before, during, and after them. Typical symptoms are:

  • Avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations.
  • Avoid eating with company and parties.
  • Worrying about everyday activities, such as starting conversations
  • Find it difficult to do things when others are watching you.
  • You may feel like you are being judged and watched all the time.
  • Always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing.
  • Worry too much about sweating, blushing, or appearing incompetent
  • Often have symptoms like feeling trembling, sweating, sick, or having a pounding heartbeat.
  • Fear being criticized, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem.
  • Many people with social anxiety also have other mental health issues, such as depression, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Have panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear 

What are the Causes of Social Anxiety?

This condition likely arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors such as:

  1. Genetic traits. This condition typically tends to run in families. However, it isn’t entirely clear how much of this may be due to genetics and how much is due to learned behavior.
  2. Brain structure. A structure in the brain may play a role in controlling the fear response. People who have an overactive structure may have a sensitive fear response, causing increased anxiety in social situations.
  3. Environment. It can also be a learned behavior caused by an unpleasant or embarrassing social situation. Also, there may be an association between this condition and parents who either model anxious behavior in social situations or are more controlling or overprotective of their children.

The Common Risk Factors of Social Anxiety

  • Negative experiences. Children who experience teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule, or humiliation may be more prone to social anxiety disorder. 
  • Personality. Children who are shy, timid, withdrawn, or restrained when facing new situations or people may be at greater risk.
  • Family history. You’re more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if your biological parents or siblings have the condition.
  • Having a condition that draws attention. Disfigurement, stuttering, or tremors due to Parkinson’s disease can increase feelings of self-consciousness and may trigger this condition in some people.

How to Treat Social Anxiety?

The treatment of this condition depends on the severity of the condition or how it affects your daily life. It includes medications and psychotherapy or a combination approach of both. Psychotherapy improves symptoms in most people with this condition. It helps you learn to distinguish and change negative thoughts about yourself and develop skills to help you gain confidence in social situations.

Medication Used for Social Anxiety

Paroxetine. It is a selective serotonin and reuptake inhibitor that is believed to be because of the potentiation of serotonergic activity in the central nervous system resulting from the inhibition of neuronal reuptake of serotonin. Aside from taking medications, it is crucial for you to seek regular help and finish the therapy to manage and prevent any attacks. 

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