Social anxiety disorder (SAD) affects 15 million adults each year, and is the fear of social situations and interaction with other people that automatically causes a person to feel self-conscious, judgment, evaluation, and criticism. If you have a loved one who has recently expressed that they have SAD, you may not understand what they’re going through. First and foremost, if your loved one is open to discussing it, ask them questions to get a better understanding of what their triggers are and how you can support them. Knowledge of SAD can lead to you being there for your friend in ways that others may not take the time to know – strengthening your relationship and showing them that you care.

First, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has listed a few key pointers to begin:

  • Encourage your friend to seek treatment
  • Realize and accept stressful periods; modify your expectations of how your friend or relative should act and provide extra support during tough times
  • Remember that each person experiences anxiety differently
  • Be encouraging and don’t get discouraged if your loved one seems to have taken a “step back”
  • Ask them how you can help
  • Talk to a friend, counselor, or other trusted person so that you receive the support that you need, too

Understand that your loved one may be extremely sensitive to criticism, and research has shown that those with SAD often believe themselves to be socially incompetent, even if others don’t perceive them to be this way. Support your loved one be creating a safe environment for them to practice opening up, and never criticize them for being “too quiet”.

Considered the “least understood” anxiety disorder, researchers from the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn in Germany found that SAD is a heritable psychiatric disorder that is driven by both genetic and environmental factors. A person with SAD may experience symptoms of heart racing, sweating, shakiness, shortness of breath, and more when in large groups or social situations. If your loved one is considering treatment, provide support to them in knowing that medication and psychotherapy – most often cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – has been shown to be very effective in treating SAD. Your loved one will feel very supported and will likely take steps towards managing the distressing symptoms of this disorder.

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.

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