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What Social Anxiety is/isn’t/can be
Chances are, you know someone who hardly ever goes out or attends social functions, and are unsociable when they do go out. There are some simple things to remember about those with Social Anxiety Disorder. The disorder is many things, but it does not pigeonhole people into a specific mental disability. It consists of many contradictory feelings and actions that seem to rule one's life. There are ways to cope. A common misconception about people with Social Anxiety Disorder focuses on a person’s mental state.
What Social Anxiety Disorder isn’t
Really, the only thing that needs to be said is that even though it is a mental health condition (it is defined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual), having Social Anxiety Disorder does not mean you are "crazy." Professionals tend to shy away from that term, anyway. Having the disorder means you just get REALLY uncomfortable in public situations and around other people. The misconception that those with the disorder are insane is an unfortunate one that can and does stand in the way of those people getting help.
What Social Anxiety Disorder is
Social Anxiety Disorder is defined as excessive anxiety, discomfort, fear, and self-consciousness when a person with the disorder finds themselves in social settings. Regular anxiousness is something different. Social Anxiety Disorder goes beyond regular anxiousness because the symptoms occur in different social settings. The anxiety, discomfort, fear, and self-consciousness can manifest itself in nervous behavior, and even a physical aversion to leaving the house or room.
This person who you know probably likes people, right? So, why would you think they had social anxiety? So, they go out. But when they are out, they feel like that is the last place they want to be. They know they should go up and talk to people, but their mind is blank. So, they start believing that people are going to think they are the weird person not talking to anybody. So, to prove they are not the weird one, without thinking, they walk up and start talking to someone. They end up making awkward comments and their self-confidence tanks. They begin to sweat and make a hasty retreat.
What Social Anxiety Disorder can be
There are coping mechanisms from professionals one can employ to help out in situations in which they find themselves beginning to panic. If they do not feel comfortable, the obvious remedy is that they can always leave or remove themselves from the situation. This can be considered as a course of action, especially if they are positive an attack is about to occur. They should make a deal with themselves though. Since they want to be social and have friends, they should try to find places and events in which they feel comfortable meeting people. It helps if they have a group of friends to whom they can express their concerns and desires to help find places and situations more conducive to their comfort level.
Some other coping mechanisms include breathing deeply, realizing social anxiety is not an accurate depiction of reality, that it is a natural occurrence, and even labeling terms such as "getting anxious" as something else. Regular meditation and even yoga can help ease a person out of being overly anxious.
There are ways to cope, which can in and of themselves be unique to the sufferer. The contradictory, illogical feelings a person with Social Anxiety Disorder experiences can at times take over their lives. Just because a person has Social Anxiety Disorder does not mean they are in need of extensive therapy for mental illness. Understanding the causes and effects of Social Anxiety Disorder is important, obviously, if you experience it yourself, but even if you have friends and/or family members who experience the symptoms. If you know someone who hardly ever goes out, or experiences debilitating apprehension when faced with social situations, understanding the causes and effects can help you help them live a fuller and more rewarding life.