For some individuals, leaving their homes is a challenge. Uncontrollable thoughts of terror and impending disaster forces them to hide in their apartment, dorm or house. These behaviors are often the sign of a more significant mental health condition – social anxiety and/or a panic disorder.
Understanding Social Anxiety:
When individuals are apprehensive about meeting new people, they are often seen as shy. Low level, everyday anxiety is experienced by everyone at some point in their life. But, a social anxiety disorder is more than just being severely shy or an introvert.
Social anxiety disorders, or social phobias, are often characterized as an intense and persistent fear of judgment by other people. Due to these fears, people with this condition will avoid social situations. In severe cases, these negative feelings will impact an individual’s everyday activities and make it difficult to maintain daily routines such as school or work.
This disorder is considered one type of an anxiety disorder. The condition creates a sense of dread in nearly all social or public situations. Some examples include, public speaking, talking to their boss, meeting new people, etc. Typically, people with a social phobia feel that they are going to be humiliated and/or rejected by other people. These fears can even extend to having a fear of using public restrooms or eating out in a restaurant.
Nearly everyone can occasionally experience nervousness or stage fright. At other times, people might just want some quality alone time. A social phobia creates more intense and longer-term emotions. The sense of dread that is triggered by a social anxiety disorder is so strong, that individuals are unable to attend public meetings or other social situations. These behaviors and symptoms will persistent over many months or even years.
Here are a few signs that may indicate that a person has a social anxiety disorder:
- A sense of terror when interacting with strangers.
- Fear that their body’s functions will create embarrassment (voice quality, sweating, trembling, etc.).
- Intense fears that an individual will be judged, embarrassed or humiliated.
- Purposely avoiding situations where they are the center of attention.
- Assuming that a social situation will lead to a negative outcome and experience.
Understanding Panic Disorders:
Some people may not realize that a panic disorder is actually a type of anxiety disorder. The typical signs of this disorder are the onset of panic attacks. During these occurrences, people will experience abrupt and intense feelings of fear; even though there is no danger or immediate threats. Panic attacks can also cause people to feel like they are losing control of their life and actions.
Some physical signs of a panic attack include:
- Profuse sweating for no visible reason.
- A tingling feeling or sense of numbness in the hands.
- Sudden onset of breathing difficulties.
- A rapid heartbeat for no visible reason.
- Suddenly experiencing hot flashes or cold chills
The occurrence of panic disorders are more frequently diagnosed in women, with early symptoms appearing during early adulthood. The attacks that are produced from this disorder can occur at any time and without warning.
Practicing relaxation techniques and other mindfulness exercises can help to reduce the amount and severity of these attacks. However, treatment from a licensed and experienced mental provider may be required. A skilled therapist can help individuals spot and change the way they think. By being aware of their cognitive thought process, people can take control of their thoughts versus having their thoughts take control of them. In other cases, talk therapy may be combined with prescription medications.
When people are suffering from either social anxiety or panic disorders, they may resort to self-medication in order to treat these intense feelings. People will naturally seek a remedy for their problem and alcohol and drugs can provide some short-term relief. The use of these substances allows people to temporarily escape from their symptoms.
However, these chemical substances will create their own set up problems by setting a person up for addiction. If people develop an addiction while trying to treat their mental health conditions on their own, they will now have comorbid conditions. When this occurs, it is even more important to seek professional help from an experienced behavioral health practitioner.
The best advice for people with anxiety disorders is to seek help. Sometimes social stigmas surrounding psychiatric and mental health services in general stops people from getting the help they need. The use of telehealth (telepsychiatry) communication technology provides individuals with anxiety disorders the ability to start therapy from the comfort of their own home.
Friends and family can help by providing support during this process. It is important for everyone to understand that people are not simply defined by their mental health condition.
The best advice is to seek treatment from a licensed mental health practitioner who is familiar with treating anxiety disorders. Recovery from these conditions does not occur overnight, but obtaining help from a behavioral health professional is a step in the right direction.
Who We Are:
The successful treatment of anxiety disorders is one of the specialties at Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center. They understand that they are here to serve the needs and concerns of their patients. Their behavioral and mental health practice is located near Columbus, Ohio in the town of Dublin.
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Contributor: ABCS RCM
Significant mental health condition, social anxiety, panic disorder, social phobias, feelings