Childhood is a stage when social abilities are developed to prepare for the encounters of adolescence and adulthood. Children who have social anxiety disorder frequently do not have age-appropriate social skills. As they grow with the condition, they may get used to experiencing social worries and develop a life that is grounded on evading.
Social anxiety disorder can have an incapacitating effect on one’s career, education, personal relationships, and financial freedom. Often, it results in a secluded lifestyle and eventually substance abuse or depression.
Concurrently, it is sad to think that people don’t seek help – or wait for a long time to get help – when this condition can be treated. In fact, research suggests that almost 70% of people who have SAD may be effectively managed with cognitive therapy.
Shyness vs. Social Anxiety
Sadly, SAD is frequently neglected as just intense shyness. Apparently, the reason why a lot of people do not ask for help for their social phobia is that they do not grasp the fact that they have an acknowledged psychiatric disorder. Statistics reveal that despite the symptoms typically starting during childhood, only half of adults with the condition are getting treatment, and those who do wait for quite some time to do so – over 10 years after the symptoms are seen.
Generally, the primary symptoms that differentiate SAD from shyness include:
- The degree of avoidance
- The severity of the fear
- The damage that it causes in an individual’s life
Individuals who have social anxiety disorder do not only feel tense before giving a presentation. They may feel nervous about the presentation for weeks and even months, have severe anxiety symptoms during the situation like short of breath, trembling, or sweating, and experience sleep problems because of anxiety. These do not typically disappear but instead worsen, as the situations get nearer. The individual with SAD then realizes that his worries are groundless but still not able to control them.
Your physician or mental health provider can perform a thorough interview to identify whether or not you meet the standards for a SAD diagnosis. But as a first step, he may order a complete screening measure to establish the need for a more comprehensive follow-up assessment. An example of this screening measure is the Mini-SPIN or the Mini Social Phobia Inventory, which is composed of three questions. Dr. Jonathan Davidson of the Duke University Medical Center developed this measure.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers about social anxiety disorder.
Is Social Anxiety Disorder in the DSM 5?
Yes, it is. The criteria for social anxiety disorder under DSM-5 include extreme and continuous anxiety or fear about certain social events because you think that you are criticized, ridiculed, or humiliated.
What are the DSM 5 criteria for generalized anxiety disorder?
The DSM-5 criteria for GAD include intense worry and anxiety on a range of events, subjects, or activities. The worrying happens more frequently – not less than six months – and is definitely excessive. Also, the worry felt is very difficult to manage.
Can social anxiety be considered a disability?
Anxiety disorder is classified as a disability. If you are struggling to manage your own anxiety and are having trouble working efficiently, you may apply for assistance.
What’s a good job for someone with social anxiety?
Great jobs for those with social anxiety are jobs wherein they are able to work one-on-one with other people or in small clusters, usually avoiding positions where they need to do presentations or be the center of attention.
What happens if social anxiety is left untreated?
If social anxiety disorders are left untreated, they can control your life. Anxieties can distract your usual activities at work and school and change your relationships with others. They also cause decreased self-confidence.
Why did I develop social anxiety?
Social anxiety can be associated with a history of bullying, criticism, or abuse. Shy children are also more prone to becoming socially anxious when they grow up, as are those with controlling or overprotective parents.
What is the root cause of social anxiety?
There are different reasons that could trigger one’s anxiety, and the environment could be one of these reasons, such as a job, medical condition, or traumatic past events. Genetics apparently also plays a vital role.
What is severe social anxiety like?
Severe social anxiety keeps you from living a normal and enjoyable life. You try to stay away from circumstances that most individuals would consider normal. You may even have difficulty understanding how other people can manage themselves very easily. When you avoid most social events or situations, your personal relationships are generally affected.
Is Social Anxiety a mental illness?
Social anxiety or social phobia is a mental health illness characterized by an extreme fear of being judged and watched by other people. This fear can tremendously affect school, work, and daily activities.
How can I help my partner with social anxiety?
You can help your partner alleviate his social anxiety by being there when he wants to talk about his feelings and encourage him to challenge his negative thoughts. Accompany him in social events so that he can be more comfortable and sociable. Lastly, help him practice a healthy and anti-anxiety life.
What is the best treatment for social anxiety disorder?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is particularly beneficial for managing social anxiety disorder. CBT allows the patient to learn different methods of behaving, thinking, and responding to situations that may help him feel less afraid and anxious. It also helps them learn social skills.
Can someone with social anxiety get married?
Social anxiety can have a disabling impact on an individual’s life. Consequently, those who suffer from it have a lesser likelihood of successfully dating or getting married compared to the average person.
While screening tools are very useful in determining possible problems with SAD, there is no replacement for a comprehensive diagnostic interview performed by a mental health provider. Your doctor can give you a full evaluation or refer you to an appropriate professional that is specialized in diagnosing the condition.
If you think that your extreme shyness may essentially be SAD, it is vital that you consult your family physician or mental health provider. Ignoring your symptoms over time worsens your anxiety and could result in other issues such as substance abuse or depression. Diversely, effective treatment regimens such as medication and CBT are available and have proved to improve symptoms of social anxiety disorder.