We all have such moments in our lives where we feel a little nervous, suspicious of the outcome, and anxious about the process but such sudden events can’t be the root cause of social anxiety, a chronic mental health condition that is treatable.
According to NIMH, social anxiety ranks in the top 3 mental health disorders in the United States which is alarming not just for the country but for the entire world.
Developing self-confidence is one of the crucial steps in overcoming social anxiety and can help you deal with any situation patiently. Through this blog, we are trying to normalize this feeling of being anxious and handling situations smartly.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is a great example of the Spotlight effect. This is when people feel like they’re being watched, judged, and noticed more than they are.
Social anxiety is more than just shyness. An intense, enduring fear of being scrutinized, mocked, or embarrassed in social settings is known as social anxiety disorder (SAD). Work, school, and interpersonal relationships may all be impacted. Individuals suffering from social anxiety disorder may avoid being a part of social events frequently.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
One of the most common characteristics of people suffering from social anxiety disorder is a constant fear in social situations where they prefer to limit their social interactions with anyone and everyone. Although this is an important factor to be addressed, the root cause of social anxiety disorder (SAD) is more than just a lack of social interactions.
How comfortable we feel in social situations is usually influenced by our life experiences and personality. So, if someone isn’t very social, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have social anxiety disorder.
Here are some of the common symptoms in people with social anxiety:
- Fear of negative judgment from people around you
- Worrying about how people are perceiving you
- Avoiding yourself to be the center of attraction
- Limiting social interactions by thinking of the worst-case scenarios
- Blushing, sweating, fumbling frequently in front of others
- Trouble catching your breath
- Increased rate of heartbeat whenever you are with people who barely know
- Avoiding any conversation, eye contact, eating with others, etc.
Understanding the symptoms of any problem is the first step in curing it. Going forward, we will study the root cause of social anxiety and the methods to treat this well.
Root Cause of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is said to have the highest lifetime prevalence rate of 12% as compared to the lifetime prevalence of other mental health disorders which is 5% for panic disorder, 6% for generalized anxiety disorder, 7% for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 2% for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Here are some of the prevalent causes of social anxiety:
- Inheritance: Genetics play an important role in determining what type of individual you become. Social anxiety can be an inherited behavior too, however, it’s difficult to find the ratio of cases occurring due to genes and learned behavior.
- Family Environment: If you have a verbally, physically, or mentally exhausting family environment most of the time, you tend to develop social anxiety outside that environment as well.
- Stressful Life Experiences: We often have some experiences which shape us as an individual and a single negative experience can have more impact than several positive experiences combined. Multiple stressful life experiences can be considered as the root cause of social anxiety.
- Brain Structure: The Amygdala, a structure in our brain may have some level of control in fear response. People who have a more active amygdala than normal brain have heightened fear response mechanisms and hence, can cause anxiety in social situations.
How to Address the Root Cause of Social Anxiety?
Seeking professional help is the best decision in case of any mental and physical health conditions but here are some other ways to treat the root cause of social anxiety and get out of this loop of constantly doubting yourself:
- Cognitive-behavioral Model Of Social Anxiety: The cognitive-behavioral paradigm states that a skewed perception of oneself and the environment is what leads to social anxiety. Individuals with this illness may believe they are unattractive, foolish, or inept. The idea that others are evaluating them and won’t approve of them could be troubling for them. Anxiety and avoidance behaviors might result from these unpleasant beliefs. Therapists use CBT to help clients identify and challenge their negative thoughts. CBT teaches people more efficient coping mechanisms for anxiety.
- Writing Down Your Thoughts: “Writing a problem solves half of it” isn’t just a proverb but a reality that should be accepted. If you start writing your thoughts, ideas, and problems or just start describing your day, it will help you clear your thoughts and reduce your anxious thoughts. Once you see your thoughts in the form of words, you tend to observe them better and hence become comfortable with yourself.
- Accepting Yourself: Acceptance is hard, especially in a world where someone or the other is constantly reminding us of how we are less good than others. But taking this hard action not only helps you cater to social anxiety but also transforms you into a better version. Acceptance starts with a thought but is achievable by taking appropriate actions throughout.
- Indulging Yourself In Uplifting Activities: All our thoughts are a result of our past actions and the perception is created by individuals around us. Once you start taking up projects, activities, and roles where you constantly upgrade yourself, you will start seeing yourself from a third-person perspective. These small but consistent actions will help you deal with social anxiety.
FAQs: Root Cause Of Social Anxiety
1. How can I reduce my social anxiety?
You have to start the process by identifying major trigger points that develop your thoughts about social anxiety and replace those thoughts with something productive. Moving your body, eating a balanced diet, reducing junk food, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and cleaning your body internally can help reduce your social anxiety as you will become more confident about yourself. You have to develop social skills. You have to start small, interacting with people whom you are comfortable with, and then expanding your network.
2. What not to say to someone with social anxiety?
Phrases like “It’s all in your head”, “I get anxious too”, “It’s not such a big deal”, and “Is this my fault” can make an already socially anxious person feel bad about themselves and will not do any good.
3. What happens if anxiety is left untreated?
By ignoring anxiety, avoiding its symptoms, and leaving it untreated, you are just making the situation worse. This will impact one’s daily life, ability to work productivity, and limited bandwidth to spend time with their loved ones. Proper treatment at the right time will help the person heal in all aspects.
A problem never arises from just one cause. They come with multiple factors that play an important role in growing a disease inside our body. In the case of mental health conditions like social anxiety, finding the root cause becomes more difficult. By delving into important factors that lead to social anxiety, we became closer to finding the root cause of social anxiety and it became evident to treat this condition timely and seriously.
Many proven and evidence-based treatments for anxiety can help you learn to cope with and manage anxiety symptoms. Some of these treatments include inpatient and outpatient therapy, holistic therapies like yoga and meditation, and group and family therapies. All of these treatment options are offered at Calusa Recovery, an anxiety treatment center in South Florida that focuses on a holistic wellness experience.