A person shared their story of living with social anxiety disorder (SAD) on a student-run media site by Penn State University. Here is an excerpt from her story,
“My social anxiety grips me tight and restrains me from doing what people normally do in average, everyday social situations. It’s not just when a person I have feelings for is on the other side of the door; it’s every day in every situation where I have to interact with others.”
SAD, also known as social phobia, is a chronic mental health condition characterized by intense anxiety or fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected in a social or performance situation. Beginning around age 13, it is said that 6.8%, or 15 million people, within the United States experience SAD each year. Having SAD can make it particularly difficult for a person to engage in daily activities; for example, a sense of helplessness and lack of control may cause a person with SAD to feel trapped even in casual situations such as going to the grocery store. People with SAD often feel as though they don’t “fit in” with everyone else, so they become isolated. In turn, this often perpetuates a negative cycle of alienation.
A 2015 study published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports emphasized that those with SAD engage a variety of responses to deal with social situations. For those with SAD, social situations tend to be perceived as more threatening and at greater risk of having catastrophic outcomes; when these fears arise, the individual is more likely to try avoiding these potential threats. The following are several unhealthy tactics a person with SAD may use when faced with a terrifying social situation:
- Situation selection – avoiding a situation due to fear of unwanted emotional responses
- Situation modification – entering a meeting room and finding a seat in the back corner to avoid others
- Attentional deployment – browsing through one’s laptop or phone to disengage with others
- Cognitive change– engaging with distorted thoughts and being convinced that the meeting does not matter
- Response modulation– focusing on pushing away one’s anxious thoughts and sensations rather than working through them
If you have SAD, it’s important to seek treatment so that you can engage in more adaptive – healthy – responses to your anxiety. Treatment may involve medication, psychotherapy, group therapy, holistic practices, and more.
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.