Friday, January 28, 2022

Understanding Social Anxiety in Teenagers

Social anxiety can prevent teenagers from participating in everyday social interactions, engaging in groups, and going places outside their comfort zone. It’s normal to feel discomfort or fear towards high-pressure social situations. However, if this fear starts to affect what you will or won’t do in your daily life, or causes you to avoid certain triggering situations, you may currently be experiencing the effects of social anxiety disorder (SAD).

For high levels of this phobia, social anxiety medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other forms of teen treatment can help conquer symptoms and increase overall quality of life. It’s important to understand that social anxiety is not an unusual condition. According to WebMD, it affects about 5.3 million people in the United States- many of whom are teenagers between the ages of 11 and 19.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict how many people are truly affected by the symptoms of social anxiety because many of the people who are experiencing the disorder are afraid to ask for help. If you feel that your social anxiety is restricting different aspects of your life, it might be a good idea to reach out to your doctor to discuss managing these feelings or seeking further treatment options.

Defining Social Anxiety Disorder

Approaching new people, beginning a conversation, and presenting in front of a group of people in class are all situations in which it’s normal to feel uncomfortable and nervous. It’s important to stress that there is nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable with these types of situations, unless the fear or phobia surrounding it is overwhelming enough to prevent you from entering the situation altogether or from functioning normally. Many individuals with social anxiety are only triggered by certain social conditions, while all public interactions can be a continuous challenge for others. 

Common Social Anxiety Triggers

Social anxiety affects each individual in a unique manner- the situations that trigger social anxiety vary greatly from person to person. To understand how social anxiety affects you, it’s essential to identify these trigger situations so you can better cope with them. 

Public speaking and Performances 

Getting up on stage for a musical performance, presenting a slideshow or project in class, or playing a sports game with spectators are all situations in which it commonly feels like there is a build-up of social pressure. Many individuals with social anxiety fear they will be unable to perform well or remember what they want to say, causing them to avoid the situation whenever possible.  

Meeting New People

The fear of starting up a conversation or making small talk with someone you haven’t met before causes people to avoid more situations than they likely realize. Part of the challenge of entering these situations is controlling the thoughts about someone’s first impression of you. However, it’s always best to approach the problem as an opportunity rather than a challenge.  

Parties & Other Social Gatherings 

Entering a room where there’s a large group of people poses a challenge for many individuals with social anxiety disorder. The stress of talking with people where many people can hear you, stating your opinion, or avoiding peer pressure causes many teens to avoid these situations altogether. 

Eating in Front of Others

Some people experience increased symptoms of social anxiety while eating in a social environment- even if they don’t know the people around them. The fear of spilling your drink, swallowing incorrectly, or embarrassing yourself at a formal meal can all make eating in social situations challenging if you’re dealing with SAD. 

Using Public Restrooms

The fear of using public restrooms holds many individuals back from outings and get-togethers with friends, prolonged visits to other people’s homes, and traveling in comfort. This phobia can often make normal parts of a daily routine seem difficult to navigate. 

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is first and foremost a mental health disorder, but many of its long-term effects can manifest themselves in physical symptoms. High self-conscious thinking in social situations creates more than shyness. The fear of other people’s judgments is often the primary concern that creates these physical triggers. 

Physical Symptoms

The physical effects of social anxiety disorder vary significantly from person to person. In other words, the same trigger situation may not result in the same physical responses. A quick, rapid heartbeat, blushing, sweating, and muscle tension are all common occurrences in response to a situation that triggers anxiety. Dizziness, fainting, crying, and stomach aches are also frequently reported symptoms, though they often only occur in more severely perceived circumstances.  

Long-Term Effects of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder can pose a substantial hurdle to living in the way you want. It can interrupt personal connections, and for many teens, make it a challenge to develop new friendships. It can also change how you approach -or don’t approach- dating and relationships. The negative thinking, low self-esteem, and poor social skills that may result from social anxiety in the long term can lead to depression and other serious medical situations. 

Treatment Options for Social Anxiety

Managing symptoms of social anxiety is rarely easy. Because this mental health disorder causes affected individuals to avoid new social situations, the individuals who need the most help with their social anxiety frequently avoid seeking help. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe symptoms of social anxiety disorder, it’s important to avoid isolating the problem and instead bring the topic to light. A doctor or other medical professional can assist in finding the right treatment solution to reduce social challenges. 

Social Anxiety Medication

SSRIs and Benzodiazepines are both medications available for anyone experiencing intense symptoms of social anxiety disorder. However, these medications aren’t the best solution for everyone- your doctor may first recommend other forms of treatment, particularly for teenagers. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Psychotherapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is a common treatment for a wide range of anxiety disorders that can be particularly helpful for those experiencing social anxiety. This treatment challenges how individuals think when approaching a trigger situation to reduce negative feedback loops and other unhealthy thought patterns.

This is a guest blog entry.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome.