What is a Social Phobia?
Social phobia is an intense fear of social situations. While it is normal to feel nervous in certain social situations, a social phobia will cause one to feel uncomfortable in most social situations. The intensity of the fear felt when in a social situation may cause the sufferer to begin to withdraw from friends, family members, and situations in which they feel they will have to face their fear.
Symptoms of Social Phobia
Most of us have felt anxious in certain social situations. We might have felt shy around our crush or intimidated by the presence of a powerful person.
The difference between feeling anxious in certain social situations and struggling with a social phobia is the fact that social phobia can cause intense feelings of social anxiety that negatively impact the person’s quality of life.
Like many mental health issues, social phobia can look different in certain people, but there are a few telling symptoms one can watch for.
For one, a person who believes they may be struggling with social phobia can examine their thought processes and emotions when presented with social situations. If they are dealing with social phobia, they may experience intense feelings of:
- worry before and during social events
- fear of judgment or criticism
- fear of being disliked
- fear of embarrassing yourself
Social phobia can present itself in physical or behavioral manners, as well. This can look like:
- Excessive blushing
- Feeling sick to your stomach
- Trembling or shaking
- Rapid heartbeat
- Avoidance of social situations
- Excessive dependency on those you are close to in social situations
Overcoming Social Phobia
Social phobia can begin to take a toll on your happiness, health, relationships, and overall quality of life. Fortunately, there are methods you can use to cope with your social phobia.
Becoming Mindful of Negative Thinking Patterns.
If you find yourself trapped in a pattern of negative thinking, it can be hard to recognize which thoughts are logical and which are not. Become aware of your thinking patterns. Are you searching for the negative in social situations? Is your thinking logical? Becoming more mindful of the way you are thinking can help you turn your negative social thoughts into positive ones, helping to switch your social experience around!
Slowing down the breath is a great way to calm down the physical symptoms of anxiety. When we are feeling anxious, we begin to hyperventilate, which can cause the rest of our body to encourage the stress response. Practice breathing techniques in order to calm yourself when feeling anxious during a social situation.
Work on Your Social Fears
Social phobia can cause you to withdraw from situations in which you have to interact with other people. The issue with this is that doing so will only strengthen your fear of social situations. Rather than withdrawing from social situations, work to figure out ways you can make them easier and more enjoyable for yourself.
- Slowly but surely expose yourself to social situations. This can help you become desensitized to interacting with others. The more practice you get being around others, the more comfortable you will feel in social situations.
- Stop focusing on yourself. A huge contributor to social phobia is typically self-consciousness. When you are focusing more on learning about the people around you than how they perceive you, your mind will be shifted from its self-consciousness.
Nobody is perfect. Everybody puts their foot in their mouth or does something embarrassing at one point in their life or another. Know that one small mistake does not define the person you are. Practice loving yourself through the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Focus on the good things you did or how strong you are instead.
Talk to your doctor about antidepressant medications, which are a first-line treatment for social phobia.
How Telehealth Can Help
Social phobia can be tough to deal with. It can cause you to live in such a great fear of judgment or embarrassment that you begin to withdraw from all social situations. Social isolation is a very lonely thing, though.
If you have found yourself feeling intensely afraid of social interactions, you may want to reach out to a mental health professional.
However, if you are dealing with social phobia, you may feel anxious at the thought of seeing a doctor in person. Using telehealth can allow you to get the help you need from the comfort of your home. Speak with a medical professional to figure out why you are feeling the way you do and figure out a treatment plan to get you feeling happier and healthier.