It's normal to feel nervous in some social situations. Going on a date or giving a presentation may cause that feeling of butterflies in your stomach, for instance. But in social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, everyday interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment.
Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition, but treatment such as psychological counseling, medication and learning coping skills can help you gain confidence and improve your ability to interact with others.
I have social anxiety or social phobia, among other problems. It keeps me away from people and group activities. It makes me dash through the store, grabbing the necessities and seeking the shortest line, or should I say the quickest escape. It limits my friendships to one of 30+ years and she knows to tell her friends to be scarce when I'm coming to visit. It limits my choices of healthy activities, like joining a gym or even walking a trail for fear someone might speak to me.
Social anxiety disorder affects your emotions and behavior. It can also cause significant physical symptoms.
Emotional and behavioral social anxiety disorder signs and symptoms include:
- Intense fear of interacting with strangers
- Fear of situations in which you may be judged
- Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
- Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
- Anxiety that disrupts your daily routine, work, school or other activities
- Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
- Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Difficulty talking
My first day of Kindergarten was my last for that year. I was not yet 5 (1959) and when the teacher asked my name I spoke so quietly that she could not hear me. I was sent home to develop social skills. The next year we tried again. Too much success as I spent much of the year in the coat closet for talking. You see I am also bi-polar but I wasn't diagnosed until just a few years ago. But that's a long story for another day. Quick version is that I have a two year cycle and in my high or mainly manic year I mask my anxiety with aggressive, abrasive behavior. In my low year I tend to hide in the house as much as possible.
Physical social anxiety disorder signs and symptoms include:
- Trembling or shaking
- Fast heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Shaky voice
- Muscle tension
- Cold, clammy hands
I always knew something was out of whack with the way my anxiety took over at times. In Jr. and high school, I would either want to be the very last or the very first to give an oral presentation. My hand shot up first or I would make myself very small in hopes that the teacher wouldn't notice me to answer a question. It depended on if it was an up or a down year. I never tried to be popular, even in the manic years, choosing instead to hang with the weirdos or go off by myself. School was hell because I couldn't get out of it. I did skip a lot of classes. I didn't date much either.
Worrying about having symptoms
When you have social anxiety disorder, you realize that your anxiety or fear is out of proportion to the situation. Yet you're so worried about developing social anxiety disorder symptoms that you avoid situations that may trigger them. This type of worrying creates a vicious cycle that can make symptoms worse.
I love Newsvine. It gives me the social interaction without the physical presence that causes the symptoms to become apparent. I have time to think about what I want to say and to phrase it properly instead of blurting it out. I'm still blunt and honest but that is just me. I don't sweat or blush or tremble. You can't hear my shaky voice. I don't have to get aggressive to mask my anxiety. I can be the nicer person that I believe I am. I can be myself. I have made so many friends here. Some only for awhile and some ongoing. I am attempting to attend the Branson Vinemeet in a few weeks. This is a big step for me but after reading the comments from others, it is a big step for them, too. It seems that I am not the only one with a fear of meeting new people or of group situations. Somehow this makes me more comfortable. Misery loves company.
NO TROLLS OR RE-REGS ALLOWED!