Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social anxiety fear social situations where they must interact with unfamiliar people. While we may all experience a little nervousness when we walk into a room full of new faces, someone with social anxiety worries excessively that people will negatively judge or scrutinize them. They’re also afraid they’ll behave in a way that’s totally embarrassing or humiliating. When that fear is persistent and lasts longer than six months, a person may be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety is very common, affecting about 7% of the population and making it the third largest mental health issue worldwide.
People with social anxiety might seem shy and introverted, or even aloof and uninterested, but the disorder can truly be crippling. Extreme self-consciousness and fear keeps sufferers from interacting with others and experiencing the kinds of common social interactions that could be sources of great enjoyment.
Signs and symptoms
Social anxiety presents with emotional, physical, behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Many of the symptoms illustrate the feelings of panic and stress that come along with social anxiety.
Common emotional symptoms:
Feelings of nervousness and worry
Sense of distress or dread
Common physical symptoms:
Shortness of breath/feeling of choking
Racing heart/chest pain
Feeling shaky/tense muscles
Nervous stomach (“butterflies”)
Common behavioral symptoms:
Avoiding/leaving social situations that trigger anxiety
Engaging in unhealthy behaviors to self-medicate or avoid anxiety (such as drinking alcohol to feel less anxious)
Common cognitive symptoms
Thought patterns that lead to anxious feelings
How Crosswinds can help
At Crosswinds, our goal is to help people with social anxiety disorder begin to have a new sense of self—to see themselves as God does: loved and valued, not judged and criticized. Crosswinds therapists typically use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help clients successfully manage their social anxiety disorder. While some anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications can be helpful in treating social anxiety, research has shown they work best when paired with behavioral therapy. With CBT, Crosswinds clients learn to control and manage their negative thoughts through techniques like practice and prayer. With the right course of treatment, social anxiety disorder can often be cured, allowing our clients to return to a full life where they can comfortably and positively engage with others. When social anxiety is managed, our clients can once again serve and reach out to others as God has intended.
If you or a loved one is experiencing social anxiety, please contact Crosswinds today: