Social Anxiety-Being Introvert in a World of Extrovert
Picture a busy supermarket and you are standing in the middle of it. At the very notion your heart beat increases. You are completely out of breath. Sweating starts at a faster pace. A strong feeling that everyone is staring at you and you alone. Some are laughing or passing remarks. Maybe your appearence is all wrong, your hair might be tangled or worse you look awkward in the new dress. For a person with social anxiety, this is one of the daily challenges he/she has to routinely endure.
What is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is a mental disorder in which the affected person exhibits fears, apprehensions towards a social situation. He/she develops a irrational or negative feeling of being overly evaluated by others which according to them, can result in embarrassement. In order to avoid this, they shy away from public places or unfamiliar situations.
Social Anxiety can result in Shyness, fear. low self esteem, over self conscious, inability to maintain relationships and in extreme cases, depresssion and suicidal tendency.
These are the common symptoms associated with this disorder
- Shyness- The sufferer feels that he/she is being watched all the time and any action performed by them can result in a embarassing situation. So the natural instinct adopted, is to move away from the crowd.
- Highly Self conscious- A firm belief that their appearence has something to do with the situation. Repeated self checks on physical appearence, persistent brushing of clothes and shoes, requiring reassurance from others all the time which contributes to a doubting personality.
- Focus on negative thoughts and actions- Point of view is a glass half empty. Affected person always rules out the positive aspect in people and concentrates on their negative traits. This is coupled with a irrational feeling of being mocked by everyone they meet
- Increased heart rates, over sweating, stammering with words and difficulty in breathing in a crowded environment.
- Leads a sedentary life, avoidance of social get togethers, difficulty maintaining a relationship.
- Any form of critisicm, negative feedback from others can result in a panic attack.
Why Some are Affected
What causes social anxiety is still not certain. However researchers have come up with these most common reasons
- Genetic trait- Hereditary plays a small role in social anxiety. If a parent has a case of this disorder, there is a likely chance that his offspring will also be affected by it.
- The production level in neurotransmitter such as seratonin can affect the emotions and thought process in a person. Some are highle sensitive to these thought trains and can cause unwanted reactions.
- Traumatic childhood experiences can trigger social anxiety. Over time these experiences can lead way to fear and guilt of oneself, triggering the disorder.
- Certain studies have shown that a region of the brain known as amygdala are more prominent in people suffering from social phobias.
There is always a Solution
- The main phase of this disorder is the negative thoughts one has to endure. Even though it is completely irrational or overblown, we still believe in them. Some of the thoughts are
"i am making a fool of myself"
"I look horrible, that is why people are staring at me"
"Everyone knows I am nervous and it shows"
"They are laughing at me or my actions"
Understand the basic fact that people in general, are least interested in us. They have their own worries and problems that they have time for nothing else. Even if you bump into a person, you will be forgotten the next instance.
We all have our flaws. No one is perfect and cannot be one. Accept your demerits and concentrate on your strength. You will be surprised by your talents. When we are comfortable with ourselves, we do not need external assurance.
Maybe some may sleep during your speech. They are also the same people who go to the theatre to take a nap. if you look closely, the majority will be listening to your interesting subject and that is all you need.
- A person affected by social phobia tends to avoid a social get together, a crowded environment, even has reservation on taking a small walk outside. This is a normal reaction of the brain, to prevent unwanted stress or tension. However on doing so, we are strengthening our irrational and negative beliefs
You can counter this effect by the following methods
- Take brief walks everyday, say for a duration of 10 to 12 minutes. Walk way near your house will be perfect since the environment is easy to adjust and more familiar to you.
- Go for small errands to your local store. Interact with the salesperson. A casual hi to a small talk is more than enough.
- Chat online with your friends. This reduces your tension and nervousness.
- Volunteer in social activites and seminars. It helps you both mentally and physically, increasing your self esteem.
- Consult your doctor. He can prescribe anti depressant medicines which can reduce the symptoms.