Online Counseling For New Jersey
We all know the feeling of being nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation. Maybe you’ve clammed up when meeting someone new or gotten sweaty palms before making a big presentation. Public speaking or walking into a roomful of strangers isn’t exactly thrilling for everybody, but most people can get through it.
If you have social anxiety disorder, which is also known as social phobia, the stress of these situations is too much to handle. You might, for example, avoid all social contact because things that other people consider “normal” -- like making small talk and eye contact -- make you so uncomfortable. All aspects of your life, not just the social, could start to fall apart.
Social anxiety disorder affects about 5.3 million people in the United States. The average age it begins is between age 11 and 19 -- the teenage years. It’s one of the most common mental disorders, so if you have it, there’s hope. The tough part is being able to ask for help. Here’s how to know if your social silence has gone beyond shyness to a point where you need to see a doctor.
When Does It Happen?
In some people with social anxiety disorder, the fear is limited to one or two particular situations, like speaking in public or initiating a conversation. Others are very anxious and afraid of any social situation.
Anyone with social anxiety disorder can experience it in different ways. But here are some common situations that people tend to have trouble with:
- Talking to strangers
- Speaking in public
- Making eye contact
- Entering rooms
- Using public restrooms
- Going to parties
- Eating in front of other people
- Going to school or work
- Starting conversations
Some of these situations might not cause a problem for you. For example, giving a speech may be easy, but going to a party might be a nightmare. Or you could be great at one-on-one conversations but not at stepping into a crowded classroom.
All socially anxious people have different reasons for dreading certain situations. But in general, it’s an overwhelming fear of:
- Being judged or watched by others in social situations
- Being embarrassed or humiliated -- and showing it by blushing, sweating, or shaking
- Accidentally offending someone
- Being the center of attention
What Can I Do About Social Anxiety Disorder?
If your social anxiety keeps you from doing things you want or need to do, or from making or keeping friends, you may need treatment.
Talk about your fears and worries with a doctor or therapist who has experience treating social anxiety disorder. They will be able to tell if you have normal social anxiety or if you need treatment.