Author: Kyle O'Brien
Published: Apr 13 2012
There are many disorders out there that are often misdiagnosed or misunderstood. Nervous habits, loss of focus and hypertension for one person doesn't necessarily mean he or she has ADHD or ADD. They very well could have symptoms, but often times there could be something deeper. Those symptoms coupled with others might mean a person could have social anxiety or as it's also known, social phobia.
The exact percentage of people who suffer from social anxiety disorder has been suggested to affect nearly 7-13% of the population. Just as of 2008, an ABC.com report suggested nearly 15 million people suffered from social phobia. And many times, those around the disorder never understood what social phobia was other than they thought the person was extremely shy or timid.
In fact, social anxiety goes much further than a person being scared or afraid of social interaction. Think of it as a ladder of symptoms that trigger extreme nervousness, trembling, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea and spikes in blood pressure. Even if it's in front of a crowd of 3 people or 300, social anxiety extends beyond the physical interaction with a stranger, i.e., handshakes, public speaking, eye contact, and has more to do with psychological confusion afterwards. The person may think their interaction with a stranger, friend or employee went south and that it was all their fault when in reality, it's the complete opposite.
That last point is very important for people to realize. Social phobia makes those who suffer from it feel they've let themselves and those they've talked to down. Feelings of failure and uncertainty can start to settle in afterwards.
But, there is a way for those suffering to fight off some of the triggers and work on social interactions. There are three ways of treatment, both immediate and progressive methods.
As research and science grow and adapt further, so too does the medicine. Psychological medicines have been able to comfortably treat many common issues ranging from depression to hypertension to social anxiety. In fact, certain antidepressants have been known to subdue and regulate most social phobia triggers. As is the case with most medications, make sure to contact your doctor and go over which ones are FDA mandated. And most doctors might suggest beta blockers to help soothe symptoms.
Many clinical trials and other methods of behavioral therapy sessions have been known to help settle many patients with social phobia. Whether it's a personal psychologist or being a part of weekly sessions at a clinic, participating in relaxing and innovative mind-calming practices can gradually improve a patient's fear of being in awkward or strange situations, understand that their worries of failure or disappointment with a given conversation is unfounded.
For patients who are opposed to medicine or therapy or just want fight through it naturally, there are many options. For one, surrounding yourself around those you're most comfortable with is a great start. Make them aware of your situation and more often than not they will work with you to settle your triggers. As a social situation is approached, work on annunciation vs. pronunciation, practice eye contact regardless of how long you think or don't think you're staring, and have a friend or two alongside to offer moral support or prolong a certain conversation. Back-and-forth Q and A's can soon feel less forced and more natural and with that, your conversation arc can grow exponentially.
As for getting through those moments where a symptom might be triggered, one can work simple breathing practices where they close their eyes, take deep breaths while counting down can put a person back into a relaxed state where thoughts of what occurred slowly dissipate. All in all, social anxiety disorder can be controlled and lessened over time as long as the person has a deep support group and strives to progress from one small social event to large stadiums full of strangers. In conclusion, the main thing with social anxiety is what I stated at the intro, it's misunderstood and pegged as a person who is borderline mute when they're so many layers underneath it. Just because it's the third most diagnosed psychological order doesn't mean people fully grasp it. And for patients who struggle day in and day out, there is a ray of light at the end of tunnel, whether through the aid of medication and professional help or through natural means and great peers around you.
About the Author: Kyle O'Brien is a freelance writer and consultant for CTT Research, a team of researchers offering clinical trials in Kansas City and other surrounding areas.
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