Social anxiety affects more people in the United States than most are aware. Being nervous around large crowds of people or speaking in front of others are concepts that can be thought of as pretty normal. However, there is a difference between social anxiety and specific social anxiety.
Specific social anxiety can be the fear of public speaking, or the fear of not being prepared for a specific task/activity. Social anxiety is different because it involves fears that are not common to most people; such as, the fear of being introduced to strangers or fearing any kinds of social gatherings.
Having to perform these tasks with social anxiety can be stressful, and can lead to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and even depression. Often times these people are forced to do these tasks that causes them social anxiety because they are a part of everyday life. These fears may seem irrational, and the people with this disorder usually know this. However, knowing something and feeling something are two completely different concepts. While these people know these fears are irrational, they still experience the physical reactions from these fears such as sweating or a shaky voice.
Luckily, there is a way for one’s social anxiety to be distinguished. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works to “rewire” the brain passage ways and allow people to form new ways of thinking about their social anxieties. With lots of time, therapy (CBT), and consistency, most social anxieties may be cured.
Another important aspect for treatment is the setting of the therapy. It needs to be a welcoming and non-judgmental place in order for someone to be able to share their fears and their negative thoughts to their therapist without feeling like they are being judged for being irrational. Especially since people with social anxiety are sensitive to what others think about them, this is a very important aspect in treatment to consider.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and remember you are not alone!