Social Anxiety

Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating social anxiety disorder that includes treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since behavioral disorders affect every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally. Social Anxiety Disorder (social phobia) is the 3rd largest mental health care issue worldwide today. It’s the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people and is a pervasive disorder that can affect most areas of a person’s life. 
Perceptions About Social Anxiety
Uniformed people may think social anxiety is just a shy or quiet person. Some other perceptions can include someone who is withdrawn, inhibited, nervous, aloof, disinterested, or self-interested. Paradoxically, those who have social anxiety want to make friends and be included in groups and events and social interactions. However, the disorder prevents them from being able to do these things.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Many symptoms accompany social anxiety that involves the nervous system. These symptoms include:
  • Heightened fear
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Automatic negative emotional cycles
  • Racing heart
  • Blushing
  • Dry throat and mouth
  • Trembling
  • Muscle twitching
In severe cases, people might develop body dysmorphia, (usually the face) where they view themselves negatively or irrationally. The most common symptom is intense anxiety being around crowds or many people in a setting. 
People with social anxiety can be triggered by various situations that can cause severe distress. These may include:
  • Being teased or criticized 
  • Being Introduced to others
  • Being the center of attention
  • Embarrassing situations
  • Meeting other peoples’ eyes
  • Swallowing, writing, talking or making phone calls
  • Having to say something in a formal, public place
  • Being watched or observed while doing something
  • Meeting people in authority roles
  • Feeling insecure or out of place in social situations—not knowing what to say
This is not an exhaustive list; other symptoms can be associated with social anxiety as well. Most people with this disorder know their anxiety is often irrational and not based in fact, but the symptoms persist and are chronic. Getting the proper treatment is the only solution to the problem and can include various methods. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), coupled with medication, can change the neural pathways in the brain permanently. 
Social Anxiety Treatment
As mentioned above, seeking treatment for social anxiety can help change your brain neural pathways for good. Thousands of research studies indicate that after the completion of social anxiety-specific CBT, people with social anxiety disorder successfully cure the disorder. They can live life normally, without fear dominating them. The appropriate therapy includes changing people’s thoughts and beliefs, along with their feelings and behavior. The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) report great success with cognitive therapy within a therapy group. Sometimes, medication needs to be used in conjunction with therapy for a short period. Certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have proven the most successful. However, medication alone has not been successful, so it’s imperative to include CBT. Current research even indicates using antidepressant medications for anxiety only helps about 15 percent of people, according to the Social Anxiety Association. This non-profit organization promotes understanding and treatment of social anxiety disorder. It’s important to know that each person is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to treating social anxiety with medication. Some people who have a severe case may need professional help and guidance from a treatment center.