Social Anxiety Therapy - Social Phobia
Occasionally feeling anxious is part of the human interaction. Perhaps you’ve tried experiencing butterflies in your stomach when you went on your first date or you’ve felt extremely nervous before presenting your paper in front of a crowd. These feelings are normal… in fact, experiencing good stress, also called eustress, can help keep us motivated and excited about life.
However, people who are diagnosed with Social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) experience severe stress due to fear and anxiety. Social anxiety disorder makes a person avoid others to the point that your anxiety disrupts your normal day-to-day activities. Thankfully, social anxiety therapy can help you cope with the symptoms so you regain the ability to interact well with others.
Are you searching for “social anxiety therapy near me” to help with your social phobia?
Our team at Bregman Medical Group specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of mental health disorders, including social anxiety disorder. We are located in Coral Gables, Florida where we have helped many individuals and families cope and manage their mental health concerns. Teletherapy (online therapy) and tele-medicine services are also available for anyone within the country.
If you think you have social phobia symptoms that are hindering you from living the life you want, a mental health professional can help you.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is an anxiety disorder where a person is afraid to mingle or interact with others for fear of negative judgment. It is one of the most common anxiety disorders today. People with social anxiety disorder are extremely fearful of everyday interactions, social gatherings, and meeting new people. They are aware that their fears may be irrational, but they find it very difficult to overcome them.
Shyness vs. Social Anxiety Disorder
It is important to note that shyness is different from social anxiety. Shyness does not have long-term effects on a person’s life, while social anxiety negatively affecting one’s life is persistent and can disrupt a person’s ability to form meaningful relationships and attend work and school.
What causes social anxiety?
The exact cause of a person developing social anxiety is unknown. But rather than a single factor, social anxiety disorder is likely caused by an interplay of different genetic and environmental factors as with many mental health disorders.
Family background and genetics - There is a tendency for anxiety disorders to run in families, but it is unclear how much of this is due to genetics or other factors. Being diagnosed with SAD, it is likely that you have specific genes that make you more prone to developing it. Also, having a first-degree family member who has been diagnosed with SAD makes you more vulnerable to developing the mental health disorder.
- Environment - Negative experiences growing up such as being exposed to an embarrassing situation in the past may cause social anxiety for some people. There are also studies that show children to model the behavior of their parents who display anxiety in social situations. Your upbringing may affect your chances of developing social anxiety. Children who have very controlling, critical, or overprotective parents and were not able to form a proper attachment to them are at a higher risk of developing a social anxiety disorder. Children who were also not exposed to ample social situations while growing up and were not able to develop proper social skills are more likely to have the disorder.
Structure of your brain - the amygdala is the part of your brain responsible for the fear response. For people with an overactive amygdala, it is easier to feel fear and anxiety about social or everyday interactions. Chemical imbalances in the brain can also make you more susceptible to developing a social anxiety disorder.
What are the symptoms of social anxiety disorder?
There can be physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms of a person with social anxiety disorder. Depending on the situation they are in, symptoms may not occur all the time. There are people who may have anxiety in limited situations only, but in extreme cases, others experience anxiety in all social situations.
Here are the symptoms:
- Extremely fearful of situations where you think you will be negatively judged
- Constantly worrying about humiliating yourself in front of others
- Being extremely self-conscious (especially when others will notice that you are anxious)
- Avoiding situations that make you interact with others out of fear of embarrassment
- Feeling constantly anxious in anticipation of an event
- Feeling extremely uncomfortable in situations that make you the center of attention
- Constantly analyzing and identifying your flaws after interacting with others in a social situation
- Extremely fearful and anxious during social activities
- Thinking of the worst possible consequences from a social situation
- Extremely fearful of displaying physical symptoms that may embarrass you (such as having a shaky voice, trembling, etc.)
- Fear of interacting with other people or simply talking to strangers
- Feeling nauseous
- Sweating excessively
- Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
- Elevated heart rate
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Difficulty speaking
Talk With A Professional Therapist
Nobody is an island, and having social anxiety can be very challenging. But, you are not alone! If you are experiencing the symptoms above, talk with our mental health professionals to know how you can cope with the symptoms and regain your confidence. Bregman Medical Group accepts old and new patients.Request a one-on-one appointment today!
How social phobia is affecting your life
Have you ever avoided social situations just because of panic, worry, and fear of embarrassment? Social phobia hinders your ability to interact naturally with others and develop deep relationships.
Social phobia can disrupt your life if it is not addressed and treated. Complications such as having low self-esteem, poor social skills, and difficulty being assertive can happen to you. People with social anxiety disorder tend to talk negatively about themselves and are hypersensitive to the criticism of others. Because of social phobia, a person has trouble speaking to others, dating, making eye contact, applying for a job, eating in public, and attending social gatherings. There are many cases where social anxiety leads to depression.
How is social phobia diagnosed?
The diagnosis of social phobia is based on the standardized criteria provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
There is no medical test for social phobia. Rather, your psychiatrist will ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing. They will also check if other mental health conditions may be causing your anxiety. They may review a list of social situations where you may feel anxious; they may interview you or ask you to answer self-report questionnaires about your symptoms.
Social Anxiety Therapy
Are there treatments for your social anxiety disorder? The answer is, yes! Social anxiety disorder is more common than you think, therefore, there is high hope for people with this disorder. There are many therapies that aim towards the treatment of social phobia. Here are some of them:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is very effective in treating a number of mental health disorders, including social anxiety disorder. CBT is skills-focused and helps people process their thoughts and behaviors by identifying their negative thought patterns, and then challenging or replacing them with more productive ones.
Online Therapy for Anxiety
If you have social anxiety, attending therapy sessions with your doctor may seem like a daunting task. But, seeing a mental health professional can greatly help you manage your anxiety symptoms so you can live fully. Online therapy is very convenient for people with SAD because you get to attend sessions from the comfort of your home using only your personal computer, mobile device, or tablet.
In exposure therapy, therapists aim to help reduce your anxiety symptoms through your gradual exposure to situations or things that bring out your anxiety. The fact is that when we constantly avoid our fears, they usually become stronger and are more in control of us.
Gradually facing our fears and processing how we react and think about them will help us regulate our feelings better. Part of exposure therapy will also help you develop the proper coping skills so you will be more equipped to handle similar situations in the future.
If you have any questions about social anxiety therapy, our staff can help you! Contact us here.
Aside from therapy, there are also medications to treat anxiety that may be prescribed by your psychiatrist. Your therapist would know if medication is best needed for you as one of the options to treat your anxiety symptoms.
Strategies to manage social anxiety
Verbal and nonverbal communication
Communication is important in all social situations, so it helps to improve your verbal and nonverbal communication skills to employ strategies that will make you manage your anxiety.
For example, you can learn ways to carry yourself in a more relaxed manner such as practicing eye contact and adopting an “open” posture when talking with others that make you appear more approachable and friendly. Having an open posture will also help you practice body confidence, which will make you feel more comfortable and confident.
In addition, honing your listening and speaking skills will help you interact with others easily. You can expose yourself to situations where you get to listen to others as well as ask open-ended questions and share stories with them.
People with social anxiety find it hard to be assertive. Being assertive does not mean that you are stepping on the feelings of others by pushing for your own needs. Rather, being assertive is a form of open communication that helps you express your needs while also considering the needs of others.
Since people with social anxiety disorder would rather adopt passive communication where they keep their thoughts to themselves, so practicing assertiveness may be extremely uncomfortable at first. However, it will be a great way to give clear and honest information about your needs and expectations to others instead of silently hoping they will read your mind.
Assertive statements start with “I” + verb that describes your feeling + description of what it is that you are feeling. (ex. “I can’t do the task because my calendar is full.”). You don’t need to overcomplicate how you communicate, your goal is to be direct at expressing your needs.
Talking to others about your anxiety
Telling family members and friends about your social anxiety will help them understand you better. At work, letting your employer know about your social anxiety can also help you receive accommodations or support. If talking to them makes you extremely uncomfortable, you may consider writing down your feelings instead. Building a community of people whom you trust and are comfortable with will make the world a friendlier place for you.
Deep breathing exercises
Practicing deep breathing exercises can help manage the physical symptoms of your anxiety. You only focus on your breathing and count the number of breaths you take per minute; as you inhale and exhale, you can think of things that make you feel relaxed.
Here are 8 deep breathing exercises that you can practice to help ease your anxiety.
Facing your fears
This task can be daunting but will greatly benefit you in the long term. You can come up with a list of things or situations that will make you feel anxious (ex. Speaking in front of a group of people, being the center of attention, etc.), and then gradually expose yourself to these situations partnered with coping techniques. Remember, you don’t have to be overwhelmed! Begin with small steps until you are comfortable in the situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy works just like a one-on-one therapy session with your psychologist/ psychiatrist. Only that it is done virtually using a computer, mobile device, or tablet. Depending on your preference, it can also be through a video conference or audio-only. During this pandemic, teletherapy is very useful for people who would want to talk with their doctor without leaving the comfort of their home. As long as you have a good network connection, you’re able to speak with your therapist anywhere.
How common is social anxiety disorder?
Social anxiety disorder is a common mental health disorder. Next to specific phobias, SAD is the second most commonly diagnosed type of anxiety disorder. It affects approximately 15 million American adults.
Can both adults and children have Social anxiety disorder?
The answer is yes. The onset of social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. Many children and teenagers may live with social anxiety disorder without ever being diagnosed, and thus, symptoms may continue into adulthood.
Meet Dr. Arthur Bregman
Dr. Arthur Bregman of Bregman Medical Group has over forty years of psychiatric experience helping children, teenagers, and adults cope with mental health disorders and struggles of everyday life.
Talk with Dr. Bregman (Dr. B as long-time patients call him), and let him help you cope with your social anxiety symptoms.