The Social Killer
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a kind of mental disorder where the sufferer experiences a severe or unreasonable fear of social gatherings where there is a possibility that one may get embarrassed or ridiculed. Most of the time, these anxieties arise from an intense fear of being closely watched or scrutinized. This kind of phobia gives sufferers a feeling of being trapped or shut away from the world.
Scared to go out to a meeting to speak to a client? Need to deliver a speech but feel like fainting at the thought of going in front of the class to present? Scared to attend a social gathering for no apparent reason? You might be suffering from social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a kind of mental disorder where the sufferer experiences a severe or unreasonable fear of social gatherings where there is a possibility that one may get embarrassed or ridiculed. Most of the time, these anxieties arise from an intense fear of being closely watched or scrutinized – from the simple things like the way they dress, talk or act; to important job functions like performing in front of a crowd, giving a presentation, or finishing an interview for a job application. This kind of phobia gives sufferers a feeling of being trapped or shut away from the world.
They say social anxiety disorder is closely related to shyness. However social phobia differs in the sense that this disrupts normal socializing functions. It is true that everyone goes through a stage of shyness in their life, overcoming it is a different thing. When it becomes too much that it interrupts your daily life and relationships to the point where you are sick with worry, it is time to seek counsel. It is good to know the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder to be able to determine and treat this said condition before it worsens.
People with social phobia manifest 2 basic kinds of symptoms: emotional and physical. The emotional symptoms include: an intense fear of being in situations in which you don’t know people, fear of situations in which you may be judged, worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself, fear that others will notice that you look anxious, anxiety that disrupts your daily routine, work, school or other activities, avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment, avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention. The physical symptoms include: Blushing, profuse sweating, trembling or shaking, nausea, stomach upset, difficulty talking, shaky voice, muscle tension, confusion, palpitations, diarrhea, cold and clammy hands, and difficulty making eye contact.
Basically, this phobia manifests a symptom of being overly anxious around other people. Sufferers think that other people are more confident that they are, that other people are better them. They feel uncomfortable being around people that it makes it difficult for them to eat, drink, work, asking questions, asking for dates, even going to the toilet, when other people are around.
The good news is that there is a cure for this condition. For the past 20 years, a combination of talk therapy and medications has proven most helpful to limit the effects, if not cure, this mental condition. Certain anti-depressants (Paroxetine, Sertraline and Venlafaxine), anti-anxiety medications, and beta blockers are used to help Socio-phobic people to balance certain chemicals in the brain and minimize panic attacks during periods of heightened anxiety. Talk therapy teaches people with social anxiety disorder to react differently to situations that trigger their anxiety. The therapist helps the patient confront the negative feelings about social situations and the fear about being judged by others. Patients learn how their thinking patterns add to the symptoms of social anxiety disorder and how to change their thinking so the symptoms begin to lessen.
To be shy is quite normal, everybody has gone through a similar phase. Getting past that stage is the difficult part. Ultimately, it ends up to building your confidence to a certain level for you to be comfortable enough to move normally. In case you’ve been diagnosed as a socio-phobic, it is nothing to be ashamed of. With a little bit of therapy, proper medication, and enough support from people who believe in you, you’ll slowly be able to do socialize and function normally within a group without being too anxious.
The More Common Fears
Phobias, according to some statistics, are more common than most people would assume. While there are several types of phobias, with each one being triggered by something that the patient feels he has no control over, there are a few common ones. There are also phobias that appear to be emerging more and more in people, likely as a reaction to certain factors in the socio-cultural environment.
Fear, along with death, can probably be listed as being among the chief equalizers of humanity. Everybody dies and everybody is afraid of something, after all. Fear keeps people from doing stupid things and can often be a very good way to keep someone from stepping out of line. However, letting an irrational case of fear and anxiety evolve into a full-blown phobia is far from being sound for one’s mental health. While it can take more than simply giving into the fear to damage someone’s psychological well-being, the fact that certain phobias are more common than others has often been seen as being highly subjective.
The trouble with these common and irrational fears comes full circle with the fact that some people might fail to even acknowledge that they have a phobia, for the simple reason that they’re unaware that the phobia even exists. However, as stated, there are some common phobias out there and it would serve people well to be aware of them. While they are not truly damaging to a person’s mental health, it can still have drastic effects on a person’s lifestyle and interpersonal relationships.
The most common (and arguably the most most stereotyped) of phobias would be claustrophobia. This mental health condition is basically the fear of tight, enclosed spaces. This can include everything from being stuck in a tight traffic jam to elevators. In some cases, people can develop claustrophobia after serving time in prison, where the already-small cells are made smaller by the intimidating nature of the areas surrounding it. To someone with this problem, the fear and anxiety stems from the mind becoming incapable of seeing how much space is actually available and focusing on the objects that define the confining space, such as walls or bars.
Some people theorize that egrophobia is becoming increasingly common as well. Egrophobias is literally defined as the fear of work, but it comes down to more than that. Egrophobia affects the mental health such that the person develops an irrational fear of anything and everything related to the work environment. This can include not only the office structures such as desks and computers, but also more subtle reminders like being part of a team or being required to meet a specific quota. It should be noted that there is no definite proof that egrophobia is spreading, but there are probably more than a few people who would insist that they are developing it.
Phobias related to sex, sexual identity, and sexual health are also starting to become more prominent. Homophobia is, in theory, fairly common, but with varying degrees of intensity. It is believed that, to some extent, everyone that isn’t homosexual has some level of homophobia, though it is the behavior of the more extreme cases that is often shown. Androphobia and gynophobia, the fear of men and women, respectively, are also starting to become more noticeable in contemporary society. These two irrational fears produce similar effects on someone’s mental health, such as an astute case of fear and anxiety when presented with the prospect of achieving emotional or physical intimacy with someone of the appropriate gender.
The Many Faces of Anxiety
Most people make the mistake of seeing anxiety as a minor concern, something that can be overcome. However, many people do not realize that anxiety can be a very serious problem, or that it can take on manyforms. Post-traumatic stressdisorder,phobias, and panic disorder are all considered to be forms of anxiety.
The condition known as anxiety can illicit a number of reactions from people. Many view it as a sign of weakness, treating the person experiencing it as a fear-controlled weakling, incapable of properly dealing with the world around him. Others view it as a character flaw that can be overcome, usually by having them continually face situations which cause them anxiety. Others still find that it is a mental problem, one that is easily confused with any number of similar, but not quite the same, psychological conditions. However, outside of the medical profession, most people don’t recognize that anxiety can be likened to an umbrella term, with a few other conditions falling under its jurisdiction.
Panic disorder, which the general public may or may not view as a more extreme form of anxiety, actually falls under the jurisdiction of the latter term’s definition. The two are characterized by the same general set of symptoms. These include extreme dread and fear, though no truly discernible, specific cause can be found. Both conditions have also been known to cause a number of physical side effects, usually the same ones associated with the body’s natural fear response mechanism. The primary difference between the two often lies solely on the intensity of the symptoms, with panic typically causing more noticeable problems than anxiety.
Interestingly, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has also sometimes been categorized as being a sub-form of anxiety. OCD is a psychological conditions that makes a person put an undue level of focus on a given activity or thing, then compels them to perform actions related to said activity or thing. Jack Nicholson is known for having portrayed a character with OCD, with the focus being on cleanliness, in the film “As Good As It Gets.” The anxiety in this situation stems from instances where the patient fights the “compulsive” part of the disorder. Not doing what the mind believes should be done has been known to cause great discomfort to moments of fear and anxiety.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also been cited as being linked to anxiety. This is particularly true of the PTSD patient who recalls traumatic experiences that are triggered by specific objects, sounds, or locations. This can include anything from being placed in or near the location where the trauma originally occurred. Exposure, or the mere threat of exposure can cause extreme anxiety and reactions in a person, with the effect noticeably becoming more intense as the prospect becomes more real. The anxiety can also reach the point where the patient will actively attempt to avoid being exposed to anything that might trigger a relapse of the traumatic memories.
Phobias are often considered to be specialized forms of the general anxiety problem. Unlike panic and the regular form of the condition, a person with a phobia associated feelings of fear and dread with a specific trigger. While PTSD may be associated with a phobia, the two do not always intermingle. In many cases, the fear is completely unfounded, but may be rooted deep in childhood experiences or specific situations.