If you’re at a party this weekend and perhaps feeling overwhelmingly nervous about it, take a look around; one in ten of the people at that party will be feeling exactly the same as you and you’re all dealing with the same problem: Social Anxiety Disorder.
Social Anxiety Disorder is the most common type of anxiety disorder and it’s hardly surprising – with a lot of our relationships being reinforced online on various social media platforms, it seems we’ve become all nervous about being around each other in person. After all, it’s easy to create a persona and a picture of your life from the comfort of your living room; it’s scarier when you have to BE that person on the spur of the moment, with no laptop to hide behind. They call it social media, but are we really being that sociable?
Common symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder, include:
- Dreading everyday activities, such as: meeting strangers, talking in groups or starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working, eating or drinking with company or going shopping
- Low self-esteem and feeling insecure about relationships
- Fear of being criticised or judged
- Avoiding eye contact
- Misusing alcohol or drugs to try to reduce the anxiety
As with any anxiety disorder, help is at hand. One important thing to remember is that we do need some anxiety in our lives – it is part of our survival mechanism. Therefore, any treatment should be approached as a way to manage the anxiety and reduce it to a point where it’s not affecting your day-to-day life – not as a complete cure for all anxiety.
Go to your doctor
Your first step is to talk to your GP – they can discuss your anxieties with you and make an appropriate diagnosis. They can then advise the best course of treatment and refer you to necessary third parties who can help. Here in the South West we have an organisation called LIFT Psychology who are experienced at handling issues such as Social Anxiety Disorder. They’ll offer you a consultation and then treatment programme as well as continued support.
While you’re waiting for your treatment to begin, (or perhaps your anxiety prevents you from visiting your doctor) there are other things you can do:
- Sign up to MoodGym – an online resource that works you through your anxieties with a series of tests and tasks to put you on the road to recovery. Click here for more information.
- Get the Mood Panda app – highly acclaimed by even Oprah herself, this app helps you track your mood and anxieties so you can more easily distinguish what sets off your anxiety and consequently, manage it. Mood Panda works excellently with MoodGym too! Click here for more information.
- Take up yoga or meditation – both are activities that bring you to the present and allow you to practise breathing techniques that do help anxiety in the short term. Come along to a class here at the Centre, click here for more information and times.
Hang in there
As a final thought, don’t let your anxiety take over you. Act now before it gets any worse and you won’t regret it. Don’t forget, you are not alone.
The bad news: nothing lasts forever. The good news: nothing lasts forever.