Social Anxiety:

People get anxious for all sorts of reasons including trouble with their interpersonal relationships or problems at work. Remember there’s a difference between feeling occasionally nervous or anxious, and having anxiety.  When anxiety becomes persistent and impacts an individual’s quality of life, including their relationships, jobs, and academic performance, you might have an anxiety disorder. The different anxiety disorders that are most common today can leave an individual constantly overwhelmed, uneasy, and nervous. Although some temporary anxiousness can be considered "normal," understanding whether a person has an anxiety disorder can make the difference between getting the needed treatment or not.

A person with a social anxiety disorder is uncharacteristically fearful of social situations. While it is normal for us to have some apprehension around strangers, a social anxiety disorder may present itself as a fear or anxiousness about being around other people in general social situations and gatherings. People who have social anxiety are worried about embarrassment when interacting in a social setting, and this causes them to have more anxiety or panic. Because of the anxiety surrounding these things they avoid social situations. Social Anxiety Disorder can manifest in a range of cases, such as within the workplace or the school environment. Anywhere that a person could feel anxious being around a group of people is where social anxiety could happen. People with social anxiety can also experience agoraphobia, which means “fear of open spaces, using public transportation such as trains and buses, standing in line, and being outside in general.” People with agoraphobia are afraid of leaving their house, but this might not be for the reasons you think. Typically, people with agoraphobia have an intense fear of two or more of the following situations: using public transportation, open spaces, enclosed spaces, crowds, standing in line, being outside their house alone. Sometimes a person with agoraphobia might fear having a public panic attack. There is a severe form of agoraphobia where an individual becomes housebound.

There are many different coping strategies to handle anxiety depending on your symptoms. For example, a person with a Panic Disorder might benefit from breathing exercises to calm the nervous system during a panic attack. Another favorite technique for managing anxiety is meditation. The person who is anxious lets their thoughts simply “be there” in their mind. They don’t try to change them; they observe what they’re thinking and adopt a non-judgmental stance. Judging yourself makes anxiety worse. For instance, they may feel guilty for having thoughts or worries they can’t control. There’s a coping strategy for these persistent worries called mindfulness.

Different anxiety disorders have different symptoms. Each diagnosis requires a different treatment plan. However, there are common types of treatments used for anxiety disorders. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a prevalent form of treatment used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder. It examines distortions in our ways of looking at the world and ourselves. Medications, which can consist of antidepressants or short-acting anti-anxiety medicines, meditation and relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness are very effective to decrease symptoms of anxiety.

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