In this article, we will discuss what social anxiety is, its symptoms, and sure we will present you some social anxiety support groups, which can help you choose and join one of them (you can try some and choose which is better for you), and connect with people who have struggled with anxiety or still do, and can be more understanding and supportive than others in your surroundings.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety or social phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of performing any public actions (for example, public speaking), or actions accompanied by attention from strangers: fear of the views of passers-by on the street, fear of being in society, inability to do anything when observed from the side, and others.
Mentioned fears can be caused by imaginary or actual observation from the outside. A person with social phobia may be aware that his/her fears of social interaction are excessive or causeless, but overcoming them does not become easier. Some people with social phobia are afraid of a wide range of social situations, while others are only specific, for example, in which they need to show their abilities in the best way.
In most cases, social phobia begins to manifest at an early age. 50% of those suffering from this disease found its symptoms before they reached 11 years old, and 80% – before reaching the age of 20 years. As the disease begins to appear so early, it may also cause concomitant disorders, such as depression or substance abuse. Early diagnosis usually helps minimize symptoms and avoid the occurrence of additional (comorbid) disorders, such as depression. Social phobia is sometimes called the “disease of missed opportunities.”
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
The symptoms of social anxiety are cognitive, behavioral, and physiological.
People suffering from social phobia experience real horror at how others will evaluate them. They are almost always too focused on themselves – on how they look, how they behave. Such people also tend to have high demands on themselves. Suffering from social phobia, they struggle to make a good impression on others, but at the same time, they are confident that they will not be able to do it. Countless times, people with social anxiety can play in head possible scenarios for the development of situations that provoke anxiety, analyzing where and what they could do, or did not. These thoughts can be extremely obsessive and torment a person for weeks after the corresponding stressful situation.
People with social anxiety have an inadequate idea of themselves and their abilities; they tend to see themselves in a bad light. There is also evidence that the memory of such people contains more bad memories (ordinary people quickly forget the bad ones). For example, a new employee in a team gets acquainted with future colleagues and accidentally stumbles during his speech. If he/she has a social phobia, then after that he will most likely have significant anxiety and will think about whether he made a good impression; Moreover, the memory of this event will remain and become a source of concern in the future.
As mentioned above, social phobia or social anxiety disorder is a persistent fear of a wide range of situations in which a person is evaluated by others, while he/she is afraid to create a wrong opinion about himself/herself. This condition differs from ordinary “shyness” in a way that it leads to severe disturbances in the life of the subject. He/she begins to avoid any contact with people, especially in small groups, dates, or parties. Beware of talking with strangers, visiting restaurants, and other things. People with social phobia are afraid to look into the eyes of the interlocutor.
According to psychologist B.F. Skinner, phobias are primarily characterized by avoiding the behavior. A person simply begins to beware of any situations that provoke anxiety in him/her.
The physiological effects experienced by patients are similar to those observed in other disorders of the anxiety spectrum. In adults, it can be tears, excessive sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing, trembling in the limbs, changes in heart rate, as the results of the start of the “hit or run” reaction. Gait disorders are possible (in a situation if a person is worried about whether he “walks” correctly), especially when walking past a group of people. Involuntary redness of the skin of the face is also a reasonably common symptom among those suffering from social anxiety. All these physiological reactions, easily noticed by others, intensify anxiety even in the presence of strangers.
Social Anxiety Support Groups
Social anxiety support groups are aimed to gather people with social anxiety, allowing them to talk about their problems and share experiences, which can help deal with social anxiety. Before joining a social anxiety support group, you should make sure that there are people who struggle with social anxiety like you do, as then they can understand you better, and can be empathetic with you when you find it hard to be open and talk.
There are different social anxiety support groups, which can be local, as well as online. Below are some of them:
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) List of Social Anxiety Support Groups
|Anxiety and Depression Support Group for Adults||Maitland, FLO 32751|
|UCSD Support Group||UC San Diego campus|
|Anxiety and Depression Support Group of Boerne|
|Women Conquering Depression||Conference Room|
|Group for Caretakers of Individuals with OCD||CBT Center for Anxiety & OCD|
|DBSA Wichita (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)||Riverwalk Church of Christ|
|Anxiety Support Group||Palos Hills, IL|
|The OCD Clinics||New Braunfels, TX|
|Online Body Dysmorphic Disorder Support Group||Skype (choice for audio only if preferred)|
|GleefullyMe||Red Mountain Recreation Center|
- Social Anxiety Support (SAS) List of Social Anxiety Support Groups
The website of Social anxiety support suggests a list of social anxiety help in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and India. It also allows providing feedback about the groups, easing the choice of future group members.
These groups, though, do not suggest a therapy. They help people to meet people with the same problems and make friends with them, who can be more understanding than others, because of sharing the same or similar experiences.
However, if you suffer from severe social anxiety, you should treat it before joining a social support group.
- Social Anxiety Support Chat
Social anxiety support chat was made in 2007. It does not provide professional help, but helps people with social anxiety disorder, from all over the world, to connect.
- Social Anxiety Bristol
Social Anxiety Bristol (SA Bristol) is a group made for people with social anxiety to share their experiences and get help and support from like-minded people, who have struggled with social anxiety before.
- Toronto Shyness and Social Anxiety Support Group
Toronto shyness and social anxiety support group was created in 2002. The group meets every Sunday from 3 to half past 4 p.m. at 519 Church Street Community Center in Toronto. People start their gatherings with mindfulness meditation, then discuss social anxiety. They do not have to talk; it is allowed to observe.
- Social Anxiety Meetups
There is a website Meetup.com, which offers a list of social anxiety support groups, that may be having meetups near you. Before joining any group, it is recommended to make sure that the members share the same problems, in particular, have social anxiety too. Nevertheless, if you feel anxious about meeting strangers, for the first time, you could go to a meetup with a friend.
Recommended books and sources
- Overcoming Social Anxiety & Shyness
- Overcome Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Step-by-Step Self Help Action Plan to Overcome Social Anxiety, Defeat Shyness and Create Confidence
- Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness, 2nd Edition: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioral techniques
- SAS – Social Anxiety Support
- Anxiety UK – Social Anxiety Support
- Social Anxiety Support Chat
- Toronto Shyness and Social Anxiety Support Group
- HFNE “Overcoming Anxiety (How?)”
- HFNE “Prayer for Anxiety”
FAQs about the topic “Social Anxiety Support.”
Is Social Anxiety curable?
Social anxiety is considered curable. For its treatment is used the combination of psychotherapy (especially, CBT) and medications. Social anxiety or social phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of performing any public actions (for example, public speaking), or actions accompanied by attention from strangers: fear of the views of passers-by on the street, fear of being in society, inability to do anything when observed from the side, and others.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, or their combination (which is mostly used) can help with social anxiety. A professional psychotherapist can help you recognize negative and distorted thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
Social anxiety can be caused by:
- Family conflicts,
- Physical or emotional abuse;
- Bullying by peers;
- Death of a parent, or being left by a parent;
- Maternal stress during pregnancy or babyhood.
Social anxiety can be considered a disability if it is severe, as it can be impossible to work for people with severe social anxiety. Social anxiety is a persistent, irrational phobia of social situations. CBT and medications can treat it.
Is Social Anxiety a mental illness?
Social anxiety is a mental illness. It is an anxiety disorder assuming irrational phobia of social situations, that causes stress and disability to function in some parts of daily life.
What are the six types of anxiety disorders?
The six types of anxiety disorders are:
- Panic Disorder;
- Specific phobias;
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD);
- Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder);
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD);
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Thus, social anxiety or social phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of performing any public actions (for example, public speaking), or actions accompanied by attention from strangers: fear of the views of passers-by on the street, fear of being in society, inability to do anything when observed from the side, and others.
There are many social anxiety support groups, which you can find on the internet easily. You can try to join one of the mentioned groups; it can be helpful, as these support groups let you connect with people who have the same struggle, or who have had anxiety but have already overcome it, and can help you sharing their experiences or just listening, being empathetic.
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