On Social Anxiety: Frequently Asked Questions

 

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It is not uncommon to feel apprehensive in some social circumstances. For instance, going on a romantic date or giving a big speech may result in feeling those butterflies in your stomach. However, when you suffer from social anxiety, which is also known as social phobia, daily interactions trigger considerable fear, humiliation, self-consciousness, and anxiety. You are scared of being criticized or condemned by other people.

In social anxiety, fear and worry result in evasion that can interfere with your life. Extreme stress can have a tremendous impact on your work, school, everyday routines, and other usual activities. Social anxiety is a longstanding mental health illness, but learning how to cope through medication and psychotherapy can definitely help you increase your confidence and improve your capacity to interact and engage in meaningful conversation with others.

 

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Learn more about social anxiety by reading some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers below.

 

What triggers social anxiety?

Stressful life situations and traumatic experiences during childhood are major factors contributing to the emergence of social anxiety. Severe social anxiety disorder is seen in people who have gone through sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. You’re also more prone to have a social anxiety disorder if your parents or siblings have it. Additionally, kids who are being rejected, bullied, teased, or humiliated may be susceptible to developing a social anxiety disorder.

How do you know you have social anxiety?  

You will realize that you are socially anxious. If you are usually scared that people will notice that you look worried and tense. You don’t want to be in situations that would cause you to feel embarrassed and might blush, tremble, sweat, and talk with a shaky voice. You also tend to avoid talking to people for fear of embarrassing yourself. Finally, you don’t want to be in a situation where you are in the limelight or center of attention. 

What does social anxiety mean?  

Social anxiety disorder also referred to as social phobia, is a mental health illness characterized by an extreme, longstanding fear of being judged or noticed by other people. This fear tremendously impacts school, work, and other daily activities. 

How do I overcome social anxiety?

The primary step in overcoming social anxiety is first recognizing that you have one and then trying to understand what you have. Read and learn more about it so that you will be able to observe it in yourself while you are doing your daily activities. It is best to keep a journal to keep track of the symptoms. Practicing meditation and other relaxation strategies is also a great way to help overcome social anxiety. 

What is the best cure for social anxiety?

SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are the best groups of prescription medications for generalized social anxiety disorder, as proven by over 20 randomized controlled experiments that utilized SSRIs. 

Can you self diagnose social anxiety?  

There is a self-check instrument that can help you identify situations commonly seen in people with social anxiety, but this does not include all situations or all the potential reasons why someone might have it. Also, it does not provide an official diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. This implies that only a medical professional, such as a doctor or therapist, can diagnose social anxiety and consider other mental health illnesses associated with it. 

What happens if social anxiety is left untreated?

If social anxiety goes untreated, it could disrupt your relationships, work, school, and other aspects of your life. Social anxiety can develop from a fear of one social event to multiple events and even progress into a generalized fear of people. Severe untreated social anxiety disorder can result in depression, phobia, isolation, and other anxiety conditions. 

How do you talk to someone with social anxiety?

If you want to help someone diagnosed with social anxiety, you can start by sharing things about yourself. Your conversations are better when they are open-ended, and you try to avoid the more personal queries. Provide compliments from time to time, but don’t interrupt the person that you’re talking with. While you’re at it, be aware of your body language.

Can you beat anxiety without medication?

Anxiety is a monster, but it is possible to beat it without taking medications. Sometimes, surpassing the nervousness and the worry is merely a matter of changing your thoughts, behavior, and your lifestyle. You can begin with a medication-free technique, and then you can speak with a medical professional if you feel worse or your symptoms have improved. 

Does social anxiety go away with age?

For some individuals, their anxiety improves as they age. However, for most people, it does not disappear by itself without being treated. It is vital to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms. Some therapies could help deal with anxiety as well. 

What is a drug that calms you down?

Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers and considered hypnotics or sedatives that can help calm you down when you are anxious. They are among the most popular group of drugs in the globe. 

Who do you go to for social anxiety?

It might not be easy to initially get help for a disorder like social anxiety, often making you hesitant to talk with strangers. However, if you feel that you want to avoid physical or social contact and it’s slowly (or quickly) taking control of your life, you must consult with a mental health professional about it.

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Conclusion

The ADAA states that almost 40% of individuals with social anxiety do not consult a healthcare professional until they have experienced visible indications for at least ten years. On the other hand, those with social phobia are dependent on alcohol or drugs to deal with anxiety caused by social interactions. Left unmanaged, it can cause other devastating behaviors, including isolation, alcohol and drug abuse, or suicidal ideations.

The prognosis for social phobia is good with various treatments. Therapy, medications, and lifestyle modifications can help many people manage their anxiety and function normally – and happily – in social situations.

Indeed, you don’t have to be controlled by this mental health illness. While it may be weeks or even months, medications, psychotherapy, and other beneficial treatments can help you start to feel more confident and more at ease in social situations.

 

 

When A Family Member Has Extreme Fears

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Fear is a basic, normal human emotion that usually helps protect us and keep us away from danger. Being afraid is normal and may sometimes be helpful in dangerous situations. Whenever we feel afraid, it seems like we are receiving a signal that warns us of imminent danger or it may serve as a warning to be more careful.

Continue reading When A Family Member Has Extreme Fears

Relationship Phobia: Realizations During Lockdown

 

I am afraid to commit. This is the truth now, and I admit it. I just realized that I could not move on, as in move on with another person because I am stuck with the past. What I know for sure is that I do not love my ex-husband anymore, and yet, every chance I get, the triggers still come. Relationship phobia, that’s what my friend, who is also a therapist at BetterHelp, tells me that I have. I just laughed at her, but deep down inside, I knew she has a point.

Continue reading Relationship Phobia: Realizations During Lockdown

Mental Strains From Dealing With Coronavirus

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Being stuck all day at home without knowing when this is all going to end is very frustrating. And watching the news from going bad to worse can make us all hate the idea of quarantine. According to mental health professionals, this situation also creates a perfect timing of feeling powerless, anxious, and terrified of almost everything. Thus, we get too susceptible to unhealthy negative thoughts and behavior.

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The Mental health Dilemma

We all know that anxiety and fear thrive on uncertainty. The more we don’t know what’s going to happen next with this pandemic situation, the more we deal with mental exhaustion. It is a triggering situation that not all of us can seem to comprehend. That explains why people who, instead of securing their overall health, somehow shift to embracing the negative sides of the situation. Thus, they find it overwhelming that they do not want to focus on living better lives. It leads them to the doom-and-gloom conclusion of the global health condition. These individuals focus too much on the things they can’t control, which strain their mental health. Honestly, even licensed professionals at BetterHelp believe that as well.

The truth is, there is a high possibility that we might live like this for a while. And as much as we want to complain about our situation, there is little to nothing we can do to change it. But despite this unfortunate circumstance, it doesn’t mean we have to be stressed out and take our mental health for granted.

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What Can We Do?

Get Dressed – You might think it’s funny because a lot of people are now unable to go outside. Thus, you may be wondering why anyone would try and get dressed? You might think, “what’s the point?” Well, for some reason, there are specific things we can still maintain doing to make ourselves feel good. Dressing up doesn’t mean we put on beautiful clothes to lie to ourselves and make us disregard the struggle of our current state. Contrary to that, dressing up implies that despite the unfortunate global crisis we have, we prioritize self-care. Because when you think about it, staying with our pajamas all day can make us feel covered and far-flung.

Establish A Routine – Instead of complaining about how this pandemic changes everything in our lives, why not care to establish a new routine that will comply with the ones we do regularly. Indeed, we can never control what’s happening outside, but we can always alter our space. Therefore, establishing new routines and maintaining the structures will allow us to have self-confidence, consistency, and predictability. We need to understand that the capacity to change a regular routine is the same as telling ourselves that we can work things better our ways. The one person who can do that is us.

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Be Socially Active – Understandably, we need to keep physical distance from people to avoid the spread of the infection. But social distancing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk to our friends and colleagues. Contrary to that, we should get socially active in a digital way to secure functioning mental and emotional aspects. Yes, I hear you. Being socially active will not fill some of the added hours of your time during this pandemic lockdown. Meaning, you will still have to deal with a lot of hours alone with yourself. But a couple of minutes talking with a friend can make significant changes in your mood as well as your brain function.

Mental illness comes from uncontrolled emotional and mental instability. Perhaps you would disagree, but we need to permit ourselves to worry. Yes, we should allow our minds to experience pressure at some point. However, we should not let that fear take over our lives. We can always find ways to deal with this situation as long as we understand our strengths and weaknesses.

Marrying An Agoraphobic

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To be adventurous and to marry an agoraphobic at the same time is challenging. It is like limiting yourself to do the things you love for the one you love. Agoraphobia is a psychological condition where a person experiences anxiety when put in a situation or place where she feels unsafe like malls, subways, or any public areas. Sometimes, it is the fear of leaving home as the person may feel danger, especially in places that are not familiar.

Continue reading Marrying An Agoraphobic

Phobia: An Extreme And Illogical Fear

Phobia is an excessive, extreme, and irrational fear response. The source of fear can be a place, object, animal, person or a situation that can cause uncontrollable dread to the individual who is suffering from this mental disorder. They will design their life to avoid contact with the cause of their irrational fear.

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Continue reading Phobia: An Extreme And Illogical Fear

Peniaphobia: Don’t We All Have It?

 

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I have an aunt who everyone thinks is crazy. She has weird behaviors when it comes to money. I know we all do, but hers is very odd. To think she has a decent job, and I can say she is doing well. One day, I remember her feeling nervous. She was walking back and forth the dining area of her house, and she seemed bothered by something. I meant to ask her, but she looked like she didn’t want to be disturbed.

 

Later, I heard her talking to someone on the phone, and she was borrowing money. I was surprised! Why is she borrowing money? Is there a problem that I didn’t know? The woman she was talking to seemed to agree on lending her $50, and I was like, “What, $50! All that distress over 50!”

 

It made me mad thinking how odd the situation was. My aunt didn’t seem to need the money. Her fridge is full, and she doesn’t have children! She even has savings. I had to ask, or it will torment me until I find out why.

“Phobias and obsessional behaviors are a frequent presentation seen in the consulting room and are very often associated with clients who have high functioning occupations or media involvement, either in front of or behind the camera.” – Peter Finlay, Ph.D.

I asked her what she needed the money for, and she seemed calm. She opened her wallet, and I saw it still had another $50 in it. She said she’s afraid that it might run out of money, and she shivers every time that happens.

 

“Why!” I asked her.

 

“I don’t know. It just happens to me. I can’t run out of money. I feel like I’m going to die if I do.” She responded.

 

I couldn’t sleep that night, so I turned on my laptop to try to search for her condition. I knew it wasn’t normal, and she needed help. I mean, we all do worry about money at one point, but I’ve never seen anyone like her. That night I found out about a phobia called peniaphobia. I thought she might have it since the descriptions fit her.

 

What Is Peniaphobia?

“If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is irrational, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious.” – Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. 

Peniaphobia is the fear of losing money. It is an extremely pessimistic reaction to the thought of losing it. We all do need the money and at some point in our lives worrying about it, but people with this kind of condition or phobia may display exaggerated behavior or reaction to losing money. Sometimes, they act as if they’re dying, or their lives depend on it.

 

 

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 What Are The Symptoms Of Peniaphobia?

 

  • Panic And Anxiety
  • Shortness Of Breath
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea And Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth
  • Stuttering
  • Shaking

 

What Is The Treatment For Peniaphobia?

 

There is no right medication for peniaphobia. Doctors prescribe drugs such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines to treat the symptoms of anxiety, palpitations, nervousness, and sweating.

 

 

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These drugs only have a temporary relief to the symptoms of peniaphobia. After the effect of the drug has subsided, they can all happen again, so doctors recommend that the patient deal with what’s causing the phobia.

 

What Is The Cause Of Peniaphobia?

 

Like other phobias, peniaphobia may have been from traumatic experiences that have caused a person to fear to go through the same situation again.

“If you get really overwhelmed by the thought of tackling your phobia,” explained John Grohol, PsyD., “then the desensitization technique may be right for you. All you do is gradually expose yourself to the dreaded thing or situation, and then withdraw when your anxiety becomes excessive.”

In the case of my aunt, I learned that she had a colleague who died in the hospital because no one would want to help provide her medical needs. Her condition required quite an amount of money, and she spent all her life savings trying to get better, but she never did.

 

So how can my aunt confront her fear? The experience that triggered her phobia never directly happened to her. I told her to see a therapist to help her with her condition because it isn’t normal to act the way she does when she’s running out of money. I mean, everyone does act out, but a person with peniaphobia is different. You could tell that there is something very wrong and that person needs professional help.

 

 

 

She’s A Flight Attendant And Afraid Of Heights [How Jamie Overcame Her Fear: Acrophobia]

 

 

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We all know about the fear of heights or what’s also called acrophobia. We are all aware of this fear, but not everyone cares enough to understand it. Sometimes, all claim to have it. But how real is acrophobia? Are phobias hard to conquer?

“Everybody has little behavioural quirks; that’s what makes us unique and interesting. However, when these behaviours start to impact on our quality of life or affect our nearest and dearest, we need to reflect on what is really behind the actions and what we can do about it.” – Dr. Peter Finlay, Ph.D. 

Acrophobia is an extreme fear of heights. An acrophobic doesn’t need to be way up high to feel the intense feeling of distress that causes panic and nervousness.

 

At first, I thought maybe acrophobic people are just exaggerating. It can’t be that bad! But when I met Jamie, I started to understand this condition a little deeper. I realized it was no joke. People with acrophobia are suffering!

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. explained in an article that with phobias the threat is greatly magnified. “For example,” she said, “it is only natural to be afraid of a snarling Doberman, but it is irrational to be terrified of a friendly poodle on a leash, as you might be if you have a dog phobia.”

I met Jamie through work some years back. I’m a flight attendant myself, and she was just aspiring then. When I first saw her getting prepped for her training, I knew there was something off about her. She seemed anxious and lost. I wasn’t sure, but you can tell by the way she looked down, looked away then looked blank that she was feeling uncomfortable.

 

 

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What Are The Symptoms Of Acrophobia?

 

  • You feel anxious whenever you’re in an elevated place even though it’s not high.
  • You lose control over your body and mind that you might get extremely confused.
  • You panic and get hysterical.
  • You develop a headache because the level of stress is too high.
  • You feel dizzy and nauseated.
  • You feel nervous and tense.
  • You experience rapid heartbeat and palpitations.

 

Days passed, and I heard Jamie was struggling with her training. When I saw her in the cafeteria, I felt like talking to her, so I asked her how the training was going. Then I learned that she was acrophobic, but being a flight attendant was her ultimate dream. It made me wonder if she always had acrophobia. How could she want to be a flight attendant if she knew she’s afraid of heights?

 

What Causes Acrophobia?

 

The most accepted explanation of why people develop phobias is the fear of hurting oneself, the fear of falling and getting injured and dying. When we were a baby, we didn’t fear anything at all. We just responded when we felt hungry, sleepy, or uncomfortable, but nobody was immensely afraid of heights during infanthood. People develop fear because of the past experiences of being hurt and injured from a fall. It could also be from the knowledge of what could be the outcome of falling from a high place.

 

I learned that Jamie had a fall when she was a teen. She was a cheerleader and fell during a rehearsal which caused her to stop coming to practice, then finally quitting altogether. Right before that incident though, she always wanted to be a flight attendant, and it broke her heart when she realized she was starting to fear high places.

According to Dr. Peter Finlay, Ph.D., “While there can, of course, be latent reasons where past experiences are manifesting in bizarre and undesirable ways, in many cases the solution to the problem is much simpler and more readily addressed than one might think.”

She would have nightmares of falling from a mountaintop or an airplane, and she would wake up anxious. Ever since then, she avoided activities and places that will cause her to feel afraid. She admitted that there were so many opportunities she missed, but when she finally needed to make a decision, she knew she couldn’t give up her dreams. Her mom was a flight attendant, and there was no stopping her from becoming one.

 

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What Are Ways To Overcome Acrophobia?

 

  • Reflect on why you want and need to overcome your fear.
  • Remember all the opportunities you missed because you couldn’t face your fear.
  • Decide whether you still want to live in the shadows of acrophobia.
  • If you’re finally decided to overcome your fear, prepare to face it.
  • Don’t rush. You can’t deal with it with just one try.
  • Focus on your goal. Think of it as a motivation.
  • Relax and breathe. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

 

Today, Jamie is one of the senior flight attendants in our airline, and she’s doing pretty well. I can’t help but admire her whenever I think of how she started. Although according to her, there are still times it gets to her, but she won’t let it come between her and her dreams.

 

When you ask me if she overcame her acrophobia, I would answer yes! Overcoming our fear doesn’t necessarily imply it vanishes all at once. It just means we are brave enough not to let it stop us from living.