It is probably safe to say that there isnt a man, woman or child alive that has not had some form of social anxiety. There are some circumstances where feeling nervous or on edge is not only natural, you would be pretty strange if you were not ill at ease. Public speaking is just such a situation. They say that the fear of speaking in front of a crowd is the biggest fear most people have and is an even more common than the fear of death. That is one impressive fear.
Most of us get a little edgy before going for a job interview or driving to the office for that first day on a new job. It is even pretty natural to be a little nervous about going to a party or meeting where you don’t know anyone you will meet there. In fact, psychologists who are skilled at dream interpretation tell us that social anxiety about the first day at a new place where you don’t know anyone is one of the most common causes of bad dreams of nightmares. And stage fright for musicians, actors and other performers in the arts is so common that even seasoned, professional performers still confess to getting butterflies in the stomach before that curtain goes up for their next performance.
But the difference between these natural life moments where we all feel nervous or anxious and social anxiety disorder is as dramatic as the difference between the sniffles and pneumonia. In any of these situations we just discussed, if you take that anxiousness and amplify it by one hundred or one thousand so that the anxiety becomes so severe that it virtually paralyzes the victim, then you then have a good idea what someone suffering with social anxiety disorder goes through.
What may be the most surprising little known fact about social anxiety disorder is how little is really known about this problem. And yet the medical community tells us that it is the third most common psychological disorder. That means that there is a very good chance that you know someone with social anxiety disorder. In fact, if you suffer with symptoms of social anxiety that seem to be more severe than others face and if those symptoms are becoming a significant disruption to your life, you may be suffering from the beginnings of social anxiety disorder. If that is the case, its a good thing if you realize it now to take action to keep the problem from becoming so severe that it hinders your life more severely if it were to get worse.
Social anxiety disorder qualifies as a full-fledged phobia. In fact, it is often referred to as Social Anxiety Phobia. A phobia is a fear or a dread of a particular thing or circumstance that is so extreme that it can virtually disable the sufferer and for which there are serious physical and psychological difficulties if the sufferer is exposed to the phobia. Well known phobias are fear of heights, fear of enclosed places or even fear of going outside.
A phobia sufferer may experience nausea, excessive sweating, the inability to move and other serious physical manifestations of the phobia. This kind of fear is far more than just being afraid of something. Those who do not suffer with a phobia often wonder why the sufferer cannot just snap out of it. But a phobia such as social anxiety disorder is a serious medical condition that needs to be addressed with therapy, medication and treatment before the sufferer can live a normal life like the rest of us.
Unlike many phobias, social anxiety disorder is a crafty enemy because the things that can set off the symptoms are so diverse. A sufferer with this torturous disorder may feel symptoms set in by any social situation in which they feel they are being watched, judged or that something is expected of them. This may include conventional fears like stage fright or first day jitters at a new school or job. Or social anxiety disorder might be triggered by something as commonplace as standing in line at the grocery store, having a romantic social outing, enjoying a holiday party, being recognized to speak at school, meeting an important person at work or just about any situation that would create social pressure for the sufferer.
If you have a loved one who may be suffering from social anxiety disorder, take heart for two reasons. They are not crazy and there is help available. The same reason for hope is out there for you if your shyness or social awkwardness is beginning to reach the level of debilitating fear. The important thing is to recognize that you may be suffering with a very common psychological disorder and that you can get help it you reach out to the medical community for that aid.
In the case of this terrifying disorder, the quicker you stop it from ruining your ability to enjoy your friends, family, work and social engagements, the faster you will purge social anxiety disorder from your life. And once it is gone, the sense of joy and relief you will feel will make any work you have to go through to beat this disease to have been entirely worth it.