Social anxiety may be cramping your style and even seriously impacting the quality of your life more than you know. Sometimes naming it can be a huge relief, especially if you can finally take steps towards getting the help that you need. Social anxiety is a fear of social situations and interactions with others that leads to self-consciousness, poor self-esteem, feelings of inferiority and negative self-evaluation and judgment. People with social anxiety disorder experience fear and have excessive concern about being judged negatively by others, which leads to inhibitions, embarrassment, shame and humiliation as well as avoidance of interpersonal experiences and situations. Sadly, left untreated, the solution of avoiding social situations and turning to solitary activities and isolation interferes with healthy development and can lead to dependence on video gaming, the internet and other problems.
When individuals with anxiety must socialize, they may turn to drugs and/or alcohol -- this solution for some can lead to addictions and dependence. Social anxiety disorder is quite common and can be devastating for the sufferer. Below is a partial list of situations where individuals may experience significant emotional distress:
- Meeting new people
- Being the center of attention
- Being criticized
- Going to social events (parties, weddings, dinners)
- Attending large public events (concerts, stadiums)
- Going to movies or shopping
- Being watched (eating, socializing)
- Talking with friends and colleagues
- Talking on the phone
- Working in a group
- Interviewing for jobs
- Making difficult decisions
- Inviting others to do things
- Being assertive and expressing opinions
- Public speaking (presenting at a meeting)
- Answering or asking questions in class
- Performing in public (singing, acting, sports)
- Entering a room where others are already seated
Psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder can help adolescents and adults avoid isolation and psychological pain by building confidence and developing coping skills to manage fear and anxiety. My approach in therapy is eclectic and tailored to individual needs by using EMDR therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT skills as well as Mindfulness, acceptance and stress reduction techniques. By helping people challenge negative, unhelpful thoughts that accompany social anxiety as well as practice new behaviors, people are supported to recover or develop their confidence and build a hopeful, active and satisfying life.
Learn how Social Anxiety Disorder can lead to substance use and abuse here.
Take a test to see where you land on the LIEOWITZ SOCIAL ANXIETY SCALE (LSAS-SR)*ie from the Anxiety Disorders Clinic of New York State Psychiatric Institute/ Columbia University Medical Center.