Social anxiety is one of many mental health disorders that millions struggle with. In fact, there was a 40 percent increase in U.S. adults reporting mental illness as of June 2020, likely due to stress from COVID-19. Its symptoms are treatable with a combination of psychotherapy and drugs like ketamine.
WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY?
The U.S. National Institutes of Health says social anxiety is “a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. But social anxiety disorder doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your potential. Treatment can help you overcome your symptoms.”
Social anxiety affects 15 million American adults. As few as five percent get help within 12 months of it happening; almost 30 percent wait 10 plus years before seeking psychological treatment.
SYMPTOMS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY
Symptoms of social anxiety are grouped into two categories – physical, and emotional and behavioral. Everyone can be affected differently. The disorder includes fear, anxiety, and evading that interrupts your daily schedule, like school, work, or other activities. Social anxiety usually starts in the early to mid-teens; it can sometimes show in younger kids or adults.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms:
- Fear of situations which end in judgment
- Fear that you might shame or humiliate yourself
- Extreme trepidation of meeting strangers
- Panic that your nervousness will be noticeable by others
- Fear of humiliating physical signs – perspiration, blushing, trembling, or an unsteady voice
- Dodging situations or conversations due to worry of embarrassment
- Avoiding locations where you could be the center of attention
- Experiencing anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
- Being forced to suffer a social event with high anxiety or fear
- Devoting time following a social event assessing your performance and seeing shortcomings in your communications
- Enduring a horrible experience by social interactions and imagining the toughest possible consequences
Physical signs of social anxiety may sometimes be more troublesome than a behavioral or emotional symptom due to your body’s reaction to them. These symptoms will occasionally accompany social anxiety disorder and may include:
- Excessive blushing due to neurological flushing, intense emotions like stress, anger, embarrassment
- Fast heartbeat
- Your limbs or body trembles
- You start to perspire without physical effort
- Your stomach is knotted, or you feel nauseated
- You have trouble catching your breath, though you’re not physically stressed
- You can have feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness
- You may feel like your mind is blank, or you abruptly don’t recognize surroundings
- Muscle tension related to physiological stress on your nervous system
- Family history can be a risk, particularly if your biological siblings or parents suffer from the illness.
- Social anxiety can happen in children, particularly if a child gets regular exposure to bullying, rejection, scorn, teasing, or shame. Other life happenings boost the risk factor – family fights, a divorce of parents, death of a loved one, or trauma or abuse.
- Temperament is another big risk. Young kids who are shy, timid, withdrawn, or reticent when dealing with new situations or people can be at higher risk.
- New social or work challenges. The teenage years are often a springboard for signs, but making a speech in public, making a big work presentation, or meeting new people can trigger signs for the first time.
- Having a trait or condition that draws attention, like a facial tick or other physical defects, stuttering, or tremors caused by Parkinson’s can make you self-conscious and spark social anxiety.
DIAGNOSING SOCIAL ANXIETY
A primary care doctor or mental healthcare provider can diagnose social anxiety. A medical doctor will give you a physical exam to rule out an underlying cause for the symptoms, while a psychologist or therapist will probe your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to uncover the origin. But symptoms are treatable.
TREATMENT FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY
In many cases, treatment begins with some form of regular psychotherapy and then develops in combination with antidepressants or other medicine if progress is slow. One option for treatment is ketamine infusions, an innovative new method of mental health treatment.
Social anxiety is a common mental health disorder with potentially serious consequences if its symptoms are left untreated. The disorder can lead to or worsen other existing mental or physical ailments and may require professional therapy or the use of ketamine infusion therapy.
If you or a loved one have questions about the clinical use of ketamine we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the innovative new treatments that are available.