Social anxiety disorder is often misunderstood. Social anxiety is more than being shy and often co-exists with anxiety, depression and other mental illness or disorders. Sufferers might feel shame and anxiety for being unable to participate fully in their own life - whether that’s socially or professionally - and they may feel embarrassed for feeling shame or anxiety at all. The good news is that counseling can help social anxiety, but first, see if you recognize any of these behaviors.
Though you might be making plans with friends or co-workers with the best intentions, it’s hard to know if you’ll be up for them when the day comes. The symptoms of social anxiety disorder often appear before social-related activities. Plans you’ve had for months or weeks might suddenly feel impossible when you can’t shake the anxiety of seeing people or being in public.
Ignoring Friends and Family
Social anxiety disorder can alienate you from the people you love most. Phone calls, texts and even small get-togethers might feel like too much if you have social anxiety. It’s common for sufferers to feel stress when interacting with familiar people, especially if you are feeling shame about your social anxiety and feel like the people you know won’t understand. This might lead you to avoid them completely, and may eventually take a toll on your relationships altogether.
Sufferers of social anxiety disorder often feel a poorer quality of life compared to those without. This may be due in part to being unable to hold a steady job because of the stress social anxiety brings. You might find yourself calling out of work or letting your job performance suffer. It’s difficult to give your energy to a full-time job when the thought of being around other people makes you fearful, anxious and ashamed.
Not Trying New Things
When everyday activities seem difficult, trying new things might feel outright impossible. If you find yourself avoiding new places and people, this could be a symptom of social anxiety disorder. You might be genuinely interested in trying new hobbies or traveling to new places, but your social anxiety is preventing you from taking the leap. In turn, you may feel like you simply can’t live the life you want.
Letting Self-Care Slip
It’s important to have fulfilling relationships with others, but social anxiety can also affect the relationship you have with yourself. Unlike shyness, social anxiety brings shame and embarrassment. It’s common to get caught up in all the things you feel you “can’t” do. Often, this is accompanied by negative self-talk and feeling like the disorder is all-encompassing. You might begin to forget all of your positive qualities, and only focus on the negative, which in turn chips away at your self-esteem.
Social anxiety disorder can get you caught in a vicious cycle of doubt and shame. Counseling can help with social anxiety. Going to counseling can give you the tools you need to break a pattern of avoidant behaviors and get you on the way to living a fulfilling life.
Our counselors in Central Florida offer counseling for anxiety. If you think you have the symptoms of social anxiety disorder, contact us. We’re happy to help you.