Many sufferers go through their day without ever thinking they are suffering from social anxiety disorder. But what precisely is social anxiety? In essence, it is a fear of social situations and interacting with people. What sets it off is the anxiety that comes with an idea of being negatively judged.


It is surprisingly prevalent in today’s society. In fact, research has shown that, at any given time in the US, 7% of the population suffer from some form of social anxiety. And it can be highly damaging, affecting practically every area of a person’s life.


But most worrying is now strongly it can take hold, with this ‘social phobia’ never disappearing on its own accord. Appropriate treatment is needed is a recovery is to be made.


How Social Anxiety Sufferers Are Seen


With social anxiety sufferers generally unaware that they are, the perception most people have of them is negative. This is, of course, is based on a lack of understanding of what the condition is, and the symptoms that are so apparent point them to mistaken conclusions.


People with social anxiety seem to be unsociable because they avoid interaction. The truth, however, is the precise opposite: they wish to make friends, and be involved socially, it’s just they their ‘social phobia’ prevents them from meeting strangers.


Outwardly, they seem:


  • Shy and withdrawn
  • Overly quiet
  • Intellectually challenged with no opinion
  • Inhibited, unfriendly and highly nervous
  • Socially aloof
  • Disinterested in conversation


While aloofness and inhibition can turn some off the idea of interacting with a social anxiety sufferer, some do ‘cross the floor’ and reach out through general conversation. This is hugely appreciated by the sufferer because it boosts their confidence in coping with life situations – though the appreciation is not always obvious.


What Can Trigger Social Anxiety?


People with a ‘social phobia’ find it difficult to cope with a variety of situations, all of which share the core trait of fear of interaction. These symptoms include:


  • Being the centre of attention
  • Being teased or criticised publically
  • Being introduced to people
  • Being observed doing something can create confusion and panic
  • Public speaking
  • Feeling insecure in social situations
  • Easy embarrassment (blushing, being tongue-tied)
  • Discomfort at social events
  • Desire to leave events early


Treatments For Social Anxiety Disorders


As a disorder that can be fully treated, social anxiety need not be permanently suffered by any individual. Therapy has been proved highly effective in helping people overcome the disorder, but also needed is hard work from the patient, and a considerable amount of patience. Treatment cannot be achieved overnight!


In many cases, doctors prescribe anti-depression medication to deal with social anxiety disorder, but research shows that this is largely ineffective. In any case, few people with a social phobia are keen on any long-term medication.


However, detailed research has shown Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to be very effective. By applying CBT strategies throughout their lives, a social phobia can certainly be overcome.


What is cognitive-behavioural-therapy?


Hypnotherapy and CBT are similar in that they are designed to help individuals take control by altering how they think about the events that trigger anxiety.  Changing the mindset is the real secret to leading a sufferer away from the fears that control feelings.


An enhanced CBT model of hypno-psychotherapy focuses on the subconscious, through which a mindset can be changed more quickly and more effectively. This model is often used by progressive and experienced therapists.


Social Anxiety Vs Panic Disorder


There can be confusion between social anxiety and panic disorder, but it is important to realize that these are two difference conditions.


The key difference is that social phobia sufferers do not experience panic attacks. These are episodes that can be so acute that the individual feels they are having a heart attack and usually goes to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. Those with a panic disorder can have panic attacks.


However, social phobia sufferers do have anxiety attacks, a less critical event that may upset the individual but does not prompt them to seek emergency medical attention.


A Significant Problem


Social anxiety disorder is not fed only by a fear of social interaction. Some research has concluded that such key social problems as alcoholism, substance abuse, and a lack of personal relationships can contribute significantly to the development of the disorder.


The importance in being able to adequately treat social anxiety disorder is highlighted by the disorder’s rating as one o the 5 biggest emotional problems in the world. With studies showing that CBT therapy is effective in changing people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviour, it is recognized as being ideal for treating social phobia.


However, insufficient resources are available at the moment to adequately deal with the current need for treatment, with neither enough professionally trained therapists not specialist treatment facilities available.


With more therapists on hand – therapists who have undergone specialist training – the growing numbers of social anxiety disorders in today’s society can be treated.