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  • Social anxiety disorder

    I remember back when I was in grade school, which seems like eons ago now. I was asked to take part in our school play, I was very excited and rehearsed very hard for my role. However, when the day of the play came, I remembered standing behind the curtains and peeping out at the crowd as they came in through the doors. The auditorium was filled and I began sweating
    profusely. I wasn’t sure what came over me back then, but I was suddenly extremely afraid to go out. It didn’t matter what my teacher or classmates said to me, I knew I wasn’t going out there. I had frozen up and everything was shut down within in. Someone else took my part in the play and I was extremely gratefully to be released from my duty. I often wondered about that day in my early childhood. Did I have social anxiety disorder or “performance disorder” as it is sometimes called, or did I have just a bit of “stage fright”? Since then I have gone on to perform on many different stages in my life. I trumped up my fear on that day, as merely just a dose of stage fright. So what makes my childhood situation, different from those who suffer from SAD?. Let’s explore.


    It is estimated that 15 million plus Americans may be suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). That’s approximately 7 percent of the population. Social Anxiety Disorder can be defined as an intense fear of being negatively scrutinized, evaluated or being judged by others in a social or performance setting. SAD is the second most prevalent disorder after a specific phobia, and the third most common mental illness in the U.S. according to research. This intense feeling can lead some individuals feeling literally sick, even though the situation may seem non threatening to most.

    Some sufferers have reported feeling as though they have nothing to contribute, especially in larger groups settings and often prefers smaller groups. Furthermore, they often also feel that they are insignificant, therefore limiting the amount of time that they would engage with others. Getting to the point of a matter quickly, rather than taking up lots of time, is often their end goal. Not wanting to cause attention to themselves is again often their agenda, as this is usually hard for them to deal with. SAD is most commonly seen in women and usually strikes in adolescent and early adulthood. However, it is import to note that SAD can occur anytime including early childhood.


    There is no known cause for SAD, but research indicates that it may stem from a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. Many individuals can relate to being anxious about giving a speech, performing on a stage, talking to someone in authority, speaking in class or meetings. For the individuals that are diagnosed with SAD, the fear is greatly intensified. These Individuals may go way out of their way to avoid social situations, if the believe others will negatively evaluate them.


    Physical symptoms of SAD as per research may include but not limited too trembling, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating profusely, nausea, abdominal discomfort, feelings of distress and loss of self control or detachment. Alcohol abuse and dependency attributes to twenty percent of those who are diagnosed with SAD. This form of self medicating may seem to help relieve symptoms, as alcohol may temporarily reduce some symptoms of SAD for a few hours. However, it also has an adverse effect on other mental health issues such as anxiety, and depression. Research indicates that even a fair use of alcohol does have an affect on an individual’s mood and level of anxiety. Plus the increase level of alcohol consumption leads to other problems such as alcoholism, causing many social anxiety disorder sufferers to seek out alcohol treatment as well..


    So what’s the best type of treatment for SAD? Research indicates that cognitive behavior therapy or CBT, maybe one of the most effective types of treatment for individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, along with motivational enhancement therapy or MET. Many individuals find that group setting types of therapy can be too anxiety provoking and tend to prefer a one on one approach. A trained professional who is efficient in working with anxiety disorders will be your best bet in helping one with SAD. Psychotherapy that incorporates self esteem enhancements and learning effective and adaptive social skills are also recommended. Relaxation techniques including meditation, and deep breathing formats are also recommended for individuals suffering from SAD.

    There are also several types of drugs on the market that help treat the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Some of the most popular ones Including some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft are also popular in treating the symptoms of SAD. Anti-anxiety medications including Klonopin and Ativan are among some of the most prescribed medications for treating anxiety including SAD.


    Although, Social Anxiety Disorder cannot be prevented, there are many different ways to help treat and alleviate the symptoms. If you are someone you know is suffering from SAD or other types of anxiety disorders, please know that there is help out there for you. You do not have to suffer alone. Make the time to get an accurate diagnosis and seek treatment as soon as possible. Anxiety Disorders can leave one feeling cheated and robbed of their life, by preventing one from experiencing a full and engaging life, because of it’s debilitating symptoms. SAD can leave one feeling alone and ashamed from their experiences, it may also leave one with little or no intimate relationships. These relationships are valuable and meaningful, but social anxiety disorder and other similar disorders can take this away. You have a choice in taking back your life and wanting something better. Help is just a phone call away, don’t wait any longer to get the help that you deserve and the life that you want.