By: GIANNA LUGLIANI
Social anxiety disorder is a common condition that has a significant impact on the lives of those that deal with it on a daily basis. An estimated 12 percent of people across the globe have reported experiencing this anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Social anxiety is an ailment that causes people to want to avoid most social situations and common interactions with others that many people don’t think twice about. Whether this be ordering a coffee, meeting new people, or making small talk, it makes it much more difficult for these individuals to participate in these social acts. People with this disorder have to live their lives finding ways to get through everyday life while accommodating for this obstacle at the same time.
Everyone who has a social anxiety disorder experiences it in their own way; for some, it can be crippling and for others, it can be minor. Social situations that may be really difficult for some people might not be so bad for others, depending on the severity of their case. One of the main contributors to it is the “excessive and persistent fear of being judged by other people.” This often results in the overall avoidance of any events that might lead to these feelings being heightened. If they feel that there’s a chance of embarrassing themselves or being judged, it can be very hard for them to show up. Common symptoms when being put on the spot in front of people are sweating, feeling nauseous, getting self-conscious, and feeling their mind go blank.
Although similar to general shyness, social anxiety is more intense and often requires treatment. This can include attending therapy sessions or taking antidepressants to help with calming nerves. One of the main differences is the level of avoidance and the level of their fear of social situations. A lot of people don’t even realize they have this condition, brushing it off as shyness for a good amount of their life.
“The reason many people don’t seek help for SAD is that they don’t realize that they have a recognized psychiatric condition.” Many people have even waited up to fifteen years after they started noticing symptoms to start seeking help and treatment from mental health professionals. This could be related to a lack of awareness in the media about social anxiety disorder. Recently, people have started breaking the stigma about it though, with things such as the popular Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” including representation of it in the show’s main character. By opening up the conversation and normalizing having this condition, it could be helpful in aiding people with it to get the treatment they need.
Although living with this disorder can be challenging and restricting at times, it doesn’t mean that those who have it can’t ever enjoy social settings. There are many ways to cope with it and still make the most of life. It can definitely make some things a lot more challenging than they need to be, but if someone with it is determined enough to do something, they will find a way to make it work. While accomplishing goals might happen in a more unconventional way, people with social anxiety learn how to adapt in order to get things done, using methods that make them feel the most comfortable.