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Anxiety, dread, avoidance and pain. Do you identify with these words far too often? Do you often feel dread when talking to strangers, do you stress over their approval or rejection, get anxious anticipating an occasion or discussion, are you constantly pessimistic, and do you expect the worst from social interactions? If the answer is yes, then more than likely you'll struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
Social anxiety doesn't disappear on its own and there are a couple of things that can be understood only by individuals who suffer from the effects.
- They dread going to social, or other, events that are full of people. When they reach such a spot, they find it extremely difficult to mingle. If introduced to someone, they find it difficult to start, or carry a discussion.
- They fixate on their appearance and actions. They always believe that they are constantly being judged and scrutinized.
- Anxious individuals are always tired. The constant exhaustion emerges from persistent stress. They get tired of coming up with excuses for not socializing, for finding escape routes, and for avoiding individuals.
- Such individuals also experience classic symptoms of an anxiety disorder like perspiring, heavy breathing, and rapid heartbeat, when they are in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. What adds to their distress is the belief that they are constantly noticed, which hounds them to the degree that they feel like disappearing. Individuals can also suffer from depression.
- Anxious individuals prefer sending emails, or text messages, as opposed to calling, or meeting a person face-to-face. They dread making, and accepting, phone calls, and sharing about their life.
- Individuals suffering from SAD may have only one, or two, close friends, with whom they are completely comfortable. Additionally, they never want to expand their circle of friends, as it causes them a great deal of stress.
Life Beyond Social Anxiety:
Anxiety can be crippling when it persists for long. Social anxiety can keep one from remaining at a great job, giving significant performances at work or school, making, and maintaining, friendships, traveling, and so much more. It can take years for an individual struggling with any type of disorder to seek treatment. They may feel that their behaviour is normal, as they've taught themselves how to deal with it, they may feel too embarrassed, etc. There are many treatment options for those suffering from SAD that include medicine and/or therapy. What works for one individual, may not work for another. It can sometimes be a trial and error process to find what will work best. The important thing to remember is that these disorders are treatable. Aside from the aforementioned treatments, individuals can also download apps to their phones they can use when feeling stressed.
7 Cups is an app and website, where an individual can connect with a live-person or bot to talk about their issues. There are also support groups that meet every so often. Replika is another app that allows you to speak with a bot, both in text and phone. It also allows an individual to send an "SOS," for non-emergencies including, panic or anxiety attacks, the need to vent, if you feel stressed, tired or just feeling bad. There are also apps like Calm, to help an individual relax by mediating or breathing exercises.
Obviously, these apps are not intended to solely help an anxiety disorder, and do not take the place of medicine and/or therapy, but they are tools an individual suffering can use to help calm themselves.
Remember, you are not alone. If you feel overwhelmed, and need to speak to someone you can call the 24 Hour Anxiety Hotline: 1-888-993-3112. If you'd rather not talk on the phone, text, "Connect," to 741741. This is the 24 Hour Text Anxiety Hotline, and an individual will be connected to you. If you are in a crisis dial 911, or call the 24 Hour Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or you can chat online at their website.