Coping With Social Anxiety

Coping With Social Anxiety

Not all forms of behaviours seen in individuals are inherently abnormal, Abnormality must be judged in the context of a particular social situation because society plays a very Important role in shaping human behaviour. And though we all have our inherent personality types, society influences our personality according to particular situations and needs.

A stimulus provided by the society plays a pivotal role in the functioning of an individual at both Interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. So, a stimulus can be a positive reinforcement or a negative one that subsequently attects one’s behaviour. In developing a system for classifying psychological disorders, researchers came up with empirically and statistically based approaches that seek to find a cluster of problems that often occur together.

So, each cluster was given a name that represents the disorder or syndrome. Social anxiety disorders are types of anxiety disorders depicting symptoms of extreme fear in social settings. Individuals suffering with these disorders have trouble talking to people, meeting new people and attending social gatherings.

The fear of being judged by others worries them all the time. Most of the people suffering from these disorders understand that their fear is irrational or unreasonable, but they find it very hard to overcome them.

However, it should be remembered that social anxiety is vastly different from shyness and is also not social phobia. These disorders are long- term, persisting and deliberating. They can affect one’s ability to work, attend school, or even develop relationships with people outside of one’s family. So, basically these disorders hamper a person’s ability to perform even regular day-to-day tasks.


  • Unlike other anxiety disorders, there isn’t a great deal that is definitive regarding the causes of social anxiety.
  • The exact cause of these disorders may not be known but they are usually a combination of environmental and biological factors.
  • Negative experiences like bullying, sexual abuse and a dysfunctional family also contribute to social anxiety.
  • Children who witness their parents or other adults in their life who are uncomfortable in social situations, may think that it is a typical behaviour.
  • Therefore, adult figure modelling plays a significant role in these disorders. Anxious parents prime anxious children.
  • Another trigger can be when a person perceives that he or she may be judged or that he or she may end up doing something potentially embarrassing.
  • Being the centre of attention is out of the picture. Social gatherings like weddings, birthdays etc. are a strict no-no for them.
  • Some may be able to cope with a few situations well, but tend to fear specific events where they have to speak to an audience.
  • People suffering from social anxiety disorders often end up taking drugs or becoming alcoholics and on the flip side, substance abuse by these people may be considered as a way to fit in.

Biological factors ranging from dysregulation of neurotransmitters, serotonin levels or an overactive amygdala (structure in the brain that controls fear response and feelings and thoughts of anxiety) are noticed in several anxiety disorders.

Symptoms (During Social Interactions)

  • Nausea
  • Apprehension
  • Blushing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness

Psychological Symptoms

  • Worrying intensely about social situations.
  • Long-term chronic worrying.
  • Embarrassing oneself in social situations.
  • Worrying about people noticing and judging him/her.
  • Missing work or avoiding work.
  • Needing a drink to lace social situations.

Individuals suffering from these disorders usually avoid asking too many questions, shopping, attending job interviews, eating In public, using public restrooms etc. However, symptoms of social anxiety may not occur in all situations as some people can suffer from only selective anxiety.

Psychotherapy and medication separately or in combination have proven to be effective treatments of social anxiety. Some of the common treatments include:

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Learning how to control anxiety by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts through relaxation techniques.

Group Therapy
Learning social skills in social settings and sharing views with other people suffering from similar problems.

Role Playing And Exposure Therapy

  • Learning how to face social situations rather than avoiding them and practising new skills through role play.
  • Doctors usually prescribe medications to treat anxiety and depression along with therapy and lifestyle changes.
  • The medications may help In bringing about a change in the intensity of symptomatology which might further help one in their daily functioning.
  • It left untreated, social anxiety can lead to several other high risk behaviours like drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, suicidal thoughts etc.
  • However, one needs to bear in mind that a particular time frame is required to see and notice changes in an individual and if handled well with a good treatment procedure one can lead a fulfilling life.

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