Social Anxiety

When Socialising is Stressful… Social Anxiety

Whilst social situations offer the opportunity to interact and enjoy other people’s company, it can also bring the opportunity for embarrassment and scrutiny. For some, the fear of negative evaluation by others can be so intense that it interferes with social relationships, and may lead people to avoid socialising.

It is important to understand that social anxiety is much more than shyness or nervousness when speaking in public. Social anxiety disorder causes intense, overwhelming distress over a typical everyday activity. For example, someone experiencing social anxiety may feel so anxious during a conversation with their boss that they are unable to speak. Often these anxiety-provoking situations are accompanied by physical sensations such as increased heart rate, blushing, excessive sweating, trembling and difficulty swallowing.

Why do some people experience social anxiety and others don’t?

We don’t know exactly what causes social anxiety disorder, and it is likely to include a combination of factors such as past experiences, the environment (they way we are brought up) and genetics (they way we are born). Theories of social anxiety suggest that socially anxious individuals have particular beliefs and assumptions about themselves and their social environment.

These include:

  • Excessively high standards about how to perform in social situations
  • Beliefs about the negative consequences of inadequate performance
  • Other negative beliefs about themselves

Many people suffering with social anxiety cope through avoidance; that is avoiding eye contact, not speaking, avoiding attention and even missing out on social situations altogether.

More recently people have been relying heavily on social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter to compensate for avoiding face-to-face social interaction. While these avoidance tactics may seem like a solution, they only prevent the person from learning the skills needed to cope with everyday social situations.

Learning how to manage Social Anxiety is an invaluable tool that will change your life. Our Clinical Psychologists are ready to help you feel much more comfortable in social situations.

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