Social phobia

Most people are nervous and anxious before or during certain social events such as a job interview, public speaking or meeting, but this is normal. Social phobia is much more than just shame and butterflies in the stomach and negatively affects lifestyle.

Social phobia is also called social anxiety disorder. It is much more than just a shame. Shy people are able to participate in all social events. On the other hand, people suffering from social phobia are so affected by the disease that it affects their ability to perform normal daily activities.

People who suffer from social phobia have a constant, intense, and chronic fear of being watched, judged, and criticized by others, or a fear of being embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. Although they understand that their fear of being close to other people is excessive and irrational, they are unable to control it. Fear, anxiety and panic can occur days or weeks before a social event.

About 5-8% of people in the world suffer from this type of phobia. Most often, the first recognition of this disorder is during adolescence, but it can also develop later in life. Social phobia often leads to depression and drug and alcohol addiction. Many people with social phobia use drugs or alcohol as a way to relax in front of other people.

Most people who suffer from social phobia are afraid of being embarrassed. They feel that others are supposedly watching them and are afraid that they will notice their symptoms such as redness, sweating and the like. They also believe that showing anxiety is a sign of weakness.

They are afraid of public speaking, holding meetings, writing in public, eating in public, using a public toilet, talking to strangers or authoritative people, attending parties, meeting.

Social phobia can cause physical and mental symptoms and behavioral changes.
Psychological symptoms and behavioral changes:

-Fear of embarrassment or humiliation in front of others;
-Intense fear of contact with strangers;
-Fear of situations that may lead to criticism or evaluation;
-Fear that anxiety will be noticed;
-Anxiety that disrupts the normal functioning and performance of daily responsibilities such as work, school and other activities;
-Avoiding certain activities for fear of communicating with other people;
-Avoiding social events that require focus.

Physical symptoms:
-Increased sweating;
-Stomach problems;
-Speech problems;
-Flickering of the voice;
-Cold hands;
-Inability to establish eye contact.
If the fear and anxiety are not very strong, there is no need to visit a professional. For example, if a person hates to give public speeches, but still does and does not experience anxiety attacks, then they probably do not need professional help.

But if this type of disorder affects the lifestyle of that person, ie. avoiding some activities, poor communication with people, refusing the opportunity to develop a professional plan, etc., then it is necessary to consult a professional.

This problem is usually overcome with the help of psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps about 75% of people suffering from social phobia. This type of therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts, not other people and situations, decide how we will behave or react. During therapy, the person should learn to recognize and change negative thoughts about themselves. But progress should not be expected immediately. It takes a long period of several months.

Sometimes an expert may decide that medication is needed to overcome the problem.

Some people are more likely to develop social phobias than others. It depends on several factors such as:

-Gender. Women are more likely to suffer from social phobia than men.
-Family history. Many studies suggest that people whose parents have suffered from this type of disorder are more likely to develop social phobia.
-Bad experience. Social phobia can be the result of a bad experience or an unpleasant event in the past. For example, children who have been teased, humiliated or ridiculed are more likely to develop social phobia.
-Shyness. Shy, withdrawn and timid people suffer more from social phobia.

The first step to improving your condition is to acknowledge the existence of a problem. Once you admit that your fear is irrational, you will be willing to help yourself.

To reduce the negative impact of social phobia, you need to assess which situations trigger your anxiety. For this purpose, you can keep a diary of the symptoms that appear in you and the situations and events that caused them.

Talking about the problem is the most important step towards progress. If you notice that someone around you is suffering from this or a similar problem, talking to them will help you deal with this type of anxiety more easily.

Before a big event like public speaking, practice what you have to say and imagine all the people staring at you. It will help you to be prepared when you stand in front of them and reduce your anxiety.

Here are some practical tips that you can apply to gradually get rid of the negative impact of social phobia.
1.Make eye contact when greeting someone. Be the first to greet an acquaintance, do not wait for him to approach you.
2.Give compliments more often.
3.Show interest in other people, ask them about their health, family, hobbies, etc.
4.Seek help from employees at a supermarket or boutique.
5.Eat in public with a close friend or relative.
6.Breathe deeply and slowly.
7.Focus on your strengths and talents.
8.Avoid or reduce the caffeine you consume. Coffee, tea, energy drinks or chocolate can increase the symptoms of anxiety.
9.Reduce alcohol. Although it may help to relax in front of other people, it is best to avoid it, as it increases the risk of panic attacks.
10.Get enough sleep. When you are not getting enough sleep, you are more prone to anxiety. A good rest will keep you calm during social situations.

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