Most people have experienced some level of anxiety when it comes to social interactions. Whether it’s being around someone you have a crush on in middle school, or getting up to speak in front of the class. However, sometimes it can be difficult to label and answer what is social anxiety. It is normal for most people to feel at least some mild apprehension. However, if the feelings of social anxiety reach a severe level, it can be a serious and debilitating condition.
Ask one person “what is social anxiety?” and they may give you a completely different answer than someone else. Some people only experience social anxiety when they are required to speak in public. Others feel anxiety in groups where they are unfamiliar. Some people only experience anxiety in very large crowds. There are as many answers as there are types of social situations.
Social anxiety can have many causes. Social anxiety can be a normal part of human development. Many children go through a stage where they experience levels of anxiety in group settings. This normally goes away after some time. Some children, however, do not transition out of this stage and continue to feel anxiety in social situations. Social anxiety in older children can be caused by an embarrassing social experience. This child may then be reminded of their negative experience and feels anxiety that it will happen again. Social anxiety can even be an inherited condition.
Often we refer to people as “shy” or “timid”, when in fact that person likely has some degree of what is social anxiety. It is probably not serious if these people continue to put themselves in social situations, despite their nervousness or apprehension. Only in cases where the anxiety is so great that the person will avoid social circumstances altogether. Avoiding social situations altogether is considered a more serious condition.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety can become a troubling disorder if it develops into such severe anxiety that it actually prevents the sufferer from enjoying the company of others. Those who suffer from social anxiety disorder usually feel a great deal of stress or anxiety when confronted with even the thought of being in a social situation. Usually, it is a situation where there are many people in one place. Some people experience social anxiety even at small gatherings. The symptoms to the question of what is social anxiety can include fears of embarrassment, humiliation, and public scorn. Anxiety tends to make people feel restless, jumpy, on edge, nervous, and worried. Their heart rate will likely increase and they may experience a number of other symptoms like excessive sweating, headaches, or even muscle cramps. Often, people with social anxiety disorder will avoid social situations at all costs. Sometimes they will increasingly isolate themselves in order to avoid the feelings of anxiety.
Social anxiety is often difficult to treat, as each type of case usually requires a different approach. One type of treatment that has been proven to be effective for many people is cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy helps patients to control and redirect their thinking patterns, allowing them to better diminish their feelings of anxiety when they occur. There are some medications prescribed that seem to help reduce the physical effects of social anxiety as well. Other people may find relaxation techniques that will help them to lessen their anxiety.
Some people experience social anxiety due to a real or perceived inability to communicate effectively with other people. This inability will cause the person to feel heightened levels of anxiety before interacting with others, as they fear they will not be able to adequately express themselves.
What is Social Anxiety? Conclusions
Social anxiety to some degree is very common in people, and is usually not a serious problem. For those who experience severe social anxiety, it is important that they seek treatment. Treatment will enable them to enjoy the fun and excitement of meeting new people and engaging with others. If you know someone who may have ever asked what is social anxiety, you can be a great support to them by making them feel as at ease and comfortable as possible in social situations.