Social situations may arouse strong emotions for some of you. You have sweaty palms and a sore throat when you must give a speech in front of 100 people. You might feel that you cannot face a social situation because you are too nervous and agitated to do it. Going out to clubs or crowded places is something you frequently avoid.
All people feel uncomfortable in some social situations, yet people with social anxiety experience such a high level of stress that they cannot control it.
Social anxiety is a mental health disorder that can cause disruptions in a person’s lifestyle and it has become more and more common in everyday society. There is a wide range of therapies that help people with social anxiety, yet one must ask for help.
What Is Social Anxiety?
While social anxiety typically appears in the early to mid-teens, it can also form in young adults.
Social anxiety has effects on your body and your mind. In a social situation when your anxiety level is high, you feel your heart beating fast. Sweating, trembling and blushing are also common symptoms. You can even feel that your stomach is upset or that you are having nausea.
Because people with social anxiety are aware of the signs their body is sending, they fear they may be judged by others. Socially anxious individuals fear that the signs of their anxiety are obvious and worry they will be placed in humiliating situations. And so, they begin to avoid situations that arouse these kinds of negative emotions.
People with social anxiety can begin to avoid situations where they are the center of attention or that involve speaking with strangers. They will often spend time after such events analyzing their behavior and identifying their flaws.
This type of thinking facilitates the appearance of negative emotions. And while negative emotions help us adapt, the intensity can be so high that people stop feeling the positive emotions.
They start to avoid social situations and end up isolating themselves. Social anxiety can affect your relationships, friendships, and even family bonds.
How Common Is Social Anxiety?
Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health disorders in the US. Yet, anxiety disorders are more common than depression, although they can often appear together. Anxiety disorders affect 18.1% of the population in the US every year. This means that approximately 40 million adults aged 18 and older have one form of anxiety disorder. Globally, anxiety affects about 300 million people.
Social anxiety disorder is the most common subtype of anxiety disorders, affecting 15 million adults in the US every year. Although the symptoms are often unbearable and hard to handle, 36% of the people with social anxiety said that they sought help after 10 years of living with social anxiety. People often delay seeking professional help and only 36.9% of people with any type of anxiety disorder are receiving treatment.
Psychologists have begun to ask if anxiety disorders are more common in our society than before. Recent research shows that in 2018 the prevalence of anxiety rose 5 percent, compared to 2017. Studies have shown that it is an increase in mental health disorders in the West, being associated with high-income countries. Millennials are among the most anxious generation.
But what triggers the rise of social anxiety cases?
Causes of Social Anxiety
It is important to note that people are different; they have different feelings and thoughts. Human beings have their own versions of the world and they experience emotions in their own way. This is why it is hard to give a general answer. There are a lot of factors that can lead to the appearance of social anxiety.
It turns out that the parenting style is very important. Parents with an unhealthy parenting style raise socially anxious children. These parents are quick to criticize their children and are overcontrolling. They care most about what other people say and do not show signs of affection for their children.
Their children often grow up with trust issues and a high level of anxiety. They fear criticism and their levels of self-esteem and self-confidence are low.
Bullying has become in recent years one of the leading reasons teens and young adults resort to suicide. Children and adolescents feel the pressure to impress or please their peers in order to avoid being bullied. It appears that 58% of children are victims of cyberbullying and 56% have engaged in online bullying activity.
Often when people have been bullied during childhood and adolescence, they grow up with fears of social situations. They learn from past experiences that social activities often lead to bullying, humiliation, and teasing. Their self-worth and self-confidence are impinged by negative interactions with others.
When social media became something indispensable, many negative effects noticed. For example, the rise of cyberbullying among children and teens is enormous. But social media also encourages sharing only the most positive experiences. If you scroll your feed, you will see pictures from the most amazing places of people that are living the best that life can offer.
Also, the social reward system has changed. The number of likes you get on social media after you post a photo can be huge. But social media is not a copy of the real world.
Instead, it increases the levels of expectations for a glamorous lifestyle. It also makes you more sensitive to lifestyle differences and can lead you to set unrealistic standards for yourself. When you do not meet those standards, feelings of guilt, shame and fear can develop.
Of course, other events can foster the appearance of social anxiety. Among them are physical or emotional abuse, family conflicts or death of a loved one.
Social anxiety is a disorder that is more and more common nowadays. Many people avoid social situations, fearing they may be humiliated or embarrassed.
Social anxiety can have multiple causes. It usually forms in childhood but may not be fully apparent until young adulthood. A negative style of parenting can foster the appearance of social anxiety, as children learn that the opinions of others are very important and strongly influence self-worth.
Bullying and more especially cyberbullying are among the common causes of social anxiety. At least 50% of children report having been victims of cyberbullying. The same goes for social media.
It is important to seek professional help if the problem becomes more than you can handle. There are therapies that can help people with social anxiety gain trust and be more comfortable in social situations.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: Tobias Foster is a journalist and editor with more than 5 years’ work experience at an essay writing service uk. Philosophy, psychology, and sociology are his passion, and he has a wealth of knowledge in those fields. He is a master of his craft and helps teenagers overcome their fears and anxieties
Image by rawpixel.com
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.