One of the most common anxiety disorders, social phobia is defined by intense fear of social situations. Social anxiety tends to be either related to social interactions or to performance. With social interactions, a sufferer may experience panic when faced with having to make small talk at a cocktail party, for example. Performance scenarios include such things as public speaking, using a public washroom or contributing to a staff meeting. It is important to note that it is common for individuals with social phobia to experience anxiety about some social situations and to be perfectly calm in others. For example, someone may make a living as a successful public speaker, but when it comes to networking and talking to audience members afterwards, he feels emotionally paralysed.
A defining symptom of social anxiety is that sufferers fear being noticed or doing something that garners attention, thus triggering possible feelings of humiliation, embarrassment or panic. In fact, panic attacks may co-occur with social phobia, as can depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
As one can imagine, social phobia has huge implications for quality of life. As human beings we are defined by our social nature. The need for social connections is normal and healthy. However, with social phobia, sufferers will often cope with their anxiety by avoiding social situations altogether. Lack of healthy relationships can contribute to depression as social isolation deepens.
Social anxiety, while overwhelming, is a very treatable condition. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be very helpful.
A phone call or email to me to enquire or set up an appointment is always relaxed and friendly. There is no pressure to “say the right thing” on the phone, via email or in my counselling office for that matter. Contact me today if you would like to learn more.