With a social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, you have feelings of excessive anxiety, concern, and discomfort in certain social situations. The fear is intense, causes all kinds of physical symptoms and you can even have a panic attack. It is so serious that it makes your daily life difficult.
Everyone sometimes feels uncomfortable in social situations. Many people are uncomfortable not knowing anyone at a party, being the center of attention, or feel tense about a job interview. However, you will not lie awake days in advance, you will not get heart palpitations and you will not avoid these situations, as is the case with a social anxiety disorder.
Characteristics social anxiety disorder
If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, you fear in certain situations that:
- you are not considered nice or interesting;
- you are criticized or rejected for not doing something well enough or making a blunder;
- others make fun of you or bully you because you blush, sweat or stutter;
- you experience heart palpitations, dizziness or a panic attack.
You usually know that your fear is irrational, not based on facts, and does not make sense, yet these thoughts and feelings of fear persist and are chronic in nature.
Common anxious situations
People with social anxiety can experience significant worry and anxiety in the following situations:
- eating in the presence of other people;
- giving a presentation or speaking in a meeting;
- being the center of attention;
- talking to strangers (at work or at a party);
- interview for a new job;
- making eye contact with other people;
- making telephone conversations in public;
- giving an opinion;
- work while you are being assessed.
In these situations you are very concerned with what other people think of you, you are afraid of criticism, you think that others find you are strange or that you make a fool of yourself.
Specific or generalized social anxiety disorder
We speak of a specific social anxiety disorder when you are afraid of one specific situation, such as being the center of attention. If you have fear of multiple situations, we speak of a generalized social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms social anxiety disorder
You feel already nervous, if you just think about the social situation that you fear. You try to avoid the situation as much as possible and come up with all kinds of excuses. You feel sick or you are too busy. However, if this fails, you face the situation with a lot of fear and tension. This can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as:
- heart palpitations;
- stomach problems;
- visible sweating;
- dry throat and mouth.
Causes social anxiety disorders
The exact cause of social anxiety disorder is not yet known. Hereditary or environmental factors may increase the risk of developing it.
If there is a family history of social anxiety disorders, you are more likely to be vulnerable to develop a social anxiety disorder as well. This risk increases if you have been raised very protected.
Negative experiences can also play a role in the development of a social anxiety disorder. Think of bullying at school, stuttering during a meeting or during a presentation, or knocking over your glass during a dinner. You think others are criticizing you because of this, you find this terrible and you don’t want to experience this again.
Consequences social anxiety disorder
If you suffer from a social anxiety disorder, this has major negative consequences for your daily life and your social life. You can become isolated because you quit your education, you stop going to parties, you don’t invite people yourself and you don’t meet new people during a hobby or sport. You no longer leave your house, you can get lonely and you have a higher risk of depression.
A social anxiety disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, this happens regularly, so people wait a long time before seeking professional help. Often only when the daily problems they experience because of their fears have become much worse.
Contact Psychologen Amsterdam
Do you recognize your symptoms and do you need help or do you just have a question about the treatment of your social anxiety disorder? Call for an appointment or send a message to practice Psychologen Amsterdam.