Living with Social Anxiety Disorder: Nature, Coping Strategies and Treatments

| June 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

Trisha (not her real name), is a smart girl. Academic wise, she’s always on top of her class. She got lots of talents as well. However, she never joined any school activity that requires her to perform on stage.

This is a classic example of Social Anxiety Disorder.

This is a classic example of Social Anxiety Disorder.

Just the mere thought of being the center of attention makes her panic and causes her to manifest some physical symptoms like: Sweating, nausea, and even vomiting. As time passed by, her shyness became extreme. In fact, she spent weeks worrying about a class report. But, she had no choice. Trisha has to do it since it is an academic requirement. Generally, she worries about anything that involves speaking in front of a crowd. Medically, these symptoms are under the umbrella of Social Anxiety Disorder. To know more about this medical plight, read on.

Social Anxiety Disorder Defined
Trisha has a psychiatric condition called as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). It is clinically described as having an irrational, extreme, and relentless fear of getting embarrassed in front of other people. Sufferers of SAD fear that they might be negatively judged, or that others might regard them as stupid. They tend to be sensitive to rejection and criticisms; and thereby, avoiding a situation of self-assertion. They likewise, have a very low self- esteem.

Social anxiety is more than just a common attribute of being shy. So, if you do think that you are suffering from SAD the tendency is you tend to become extremely anxious about what people might think about you. As a result, Fear may greatly interfere with the different aspects of your life if this disorder will not be immediately addressed by qualified and competent health professionals.

Different Types of Social Anxiety Disorder

SAD is classified into two types: The Circumscribed or non-generalized; and Generalized SAD respectively.

In the case of Trisha, she suffers from a circumscribed type of Social Anxiety Disorder. Characteristically, it is a much lesser severe type and includes people who become anxious in just one or the other two types of social situations. Likewise, a circumscribed SAD usually don’t have problems with social situations that are outside some of the particular conditions that they are anxious about.

As for the Generalized SAD, sufferers experience anxiety in almost all social situations. Comparatively, a Generalized SAD is more debilitating. For its helpless victims, everything is a big deal. From eating in a public place, to attending a friend’s birthday party.

Symptoms of SAD

Although these are entirely two different personality disorders, SAD and shyness share a lot of similar characteristics. Below, are the symptoms of SAD that make it different from mere shyness. These are:

  1. You spend weeks worrying about a social situation that you’re going to be involved with.
  2. You experience extreme fear of social situations: If you are shy, you feel nervous or uncomfortable in certain situations. But if you have SAD, your feelings go beyond nervousness. You are extremely afraid that others may regard you as foolish, stupid, etc. You have too much fear of acting our in an embarrassing way.
  3. If you are in a fearsome situation, you experience the following: Its physical symptoms (sweating, palpitations, chest pain, nausea, headache, etc.), an extreme desire to get out of the situation, and panic attacks.
  4. You are aware that the intensity of your anxiety is irrational.

Treatment Approaches for SAD Disorder

Treatment of SAD includes medicines and psychological counseling. The initial treatment itself, depends on how severe the symptoms are. For those sufferers of circumscribed SAD, counseling may suffice; whereas, generalized SAD patients may be advised to take medications. Antidepressants are usually given to reduce related anxieties and depression. Some SAD patients need lifetime treatment while others may recover after a certain period of time.

Counseling Strategies Employed in SAD Disorder

Meanwhile, counseling often includes some of the following therapies:

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy– It aims to help the patient identify anxieties and their causes. It likewise uses various techniques such as: Exposure Therapy, Social Skills Training, Cognitive Restructuring, and Symptom Management Skills.
  2. Supportive Therapy– This therapy aims to educate the sufferer about SAD. It uses Family and Group therapies, in order for the patient to gain support from his/her loved ones and other sufferers.

In closing, Social Anxiety Disorder is a serious condition that greatly affects the lives of its sufferers. People with SAD need lots of support and understanding. Hence, if your loved one is diagnosed with this kind of illness, encourage him/her to seek treatment. His/her willingness combined with your support, can definitely do a lot in treating this psychiatric disorder in time.

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