Apprehension, fear, avoidance and pain. Do you relate to these words far too often? If the answer is yes then you might be grappling with social anxiety disorder (SAD). If you fear talking to strangers, remain negative and expect the worst out of your social interactions, worry too much about other people’s approval or rejection, and get anxious anticipating any event or a conversation then, you are suffering with this mental health problem.
Social anxiety doesn’t disappear on its own and there are a few things that can be understood by only those who suffer from it. Here are some of them:
- Their idea of a nice evening is to stay indoors with their pet, books, television or internet. They avoid going outdoors or hanging out with colleagues or friends. They are happy connecting to their loved ones on social media but meeting someone in person is something they avoid at length.
- They dread going to gatherings or events full of people. Once they reach such a place, they find it very hard to mingle. If they are introduced to someone, they find it hard to initiate or carry a conversation and ultimately, they are left alone. Even in these parties, they always think that they are being judged and scrutinized closely.
- People with SAD carry their lunch to work, not to save money but to avoid going out for lunch with colleagues and getting familiar with each other. Every time they are invited to a happy gathering, they refuse, and eventually people start ignoring them thinking they are anti-social. They are content themselves during lunch or tea time and don’t like to chat with coworkers during breaks.
- Anxious people are always tired. The constant fatigue arises from persistent worrying. They get tired of making excuses for not socializing, for finding escape routes and for avoiding people.
- Such people also experience classic symptoms of an anxiety disorder like sweating, heavy breathing and rapid heartbeat when they are in an uncomfortable situation. What adds to their woes is the realization that they are being constantly noticed, which badgers them to the extent that they feel like disappearing.
- They prefer sending an email or a text message rather than calling and making a person face-to-face. They dread making and taking calls, sharing about their life and embarrassing others with their talk.
- People with SAD may have one or two close friends with whom they are absolutely comfortable. However, they never want an addition to their friend circle as it causes them stress.
- They are overwhelmed by extra people in the room, additional light, smell or anything that makes them uncomfortable. Excess of anything can intimidate them. As a result, they enter into a flight mode and start finding ways to excuse themselves from those situations.
- They obsess over their appearance, clothes, how they smell or look, etc. They fail to understand that people around them have their own set of priorities and nobody has the time to scan them. But they always feel that they are being judged for their choices from head to toe.
- SAD-affected people engage in bruxism. They invariably start grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw when they are in an uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately, this is noticed by people around them and it makes things worse for them.
Life beyond social anxiety
Anxiety can be crippling when it persists for long. Social anxiety can prevent one from staying in a good job, giving an impactful performance at school or work, making eternal friendships, traveling to far-flung and beautiful places, and much more. It is inevitable that a person grappling with this disorder seeks help through medication and behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy.