By Bertil Hjert
There are two different types of social phobia. The first is generalized, where anything and everything in the way of social interaction has the potential to send your nerves into overdrive. People who are only afraid of a few or a particular type of social interaction have non-generalized or specific social phobia.
To help determine if you are suffering from social phobia answer “yes” or “no” to the following three questions:
1. Is being embarrassed or looking stupid one of your worst fears?
2. Does fear of embarrassment cause you to avoid interacting with people or doing things?
3. Do you avoid activities where you are the focus or center of attention?
Affirmative answers to these questions are a good indication that you may be struggling with the disorder. However, there are also physical symptoms and mental attitudes and behaviors that can help clue you in to social phobia.
Some of the physical symptoms that you might be struggling with include:
– dry mouth
Some of the mental and behavioral attitudes that you might be struggling with include:
1. You have an extreme and persistent fear of one or more social situations where you need to perform, interact or are exposed to unfamiliar people or scrutiny by others.
You are afraid that you will humiliate or embarrass yourself by showing anxiety symptoms.
2. You experience terrible anxiety or a panic attack when being exposed to the feared social situation.
3. You know your fear is excessive or unreasonable.
4. You either suffer intense anxiety or distress about or avoid situations where social performance is required.
5. Your normal routine, work, social activities, or relationships suffer distress or deterioration as a result of fear avoidance.
6. You have trouble asserting yourself.
7. You obsess over the reactions and responses of others to what you say and do.
8. You are especially sensitive to critiques, evaluations, criticism or rejection.
While this list of symptoms, behavior and attitudes is a good start, it is not exhaustive and you certainly don´t need to encounter all of these problems to have this disorder.
Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of the phobia are similar to panic disorder and agoraphobia so the phobia can often be confused with one of these other problems.
It is important to try to pinpoint the particular anxiety disorder you are struggling with. A doctor may need to assist you and should certainly be consulted if you have immediate concerns about your health or well being.
While many of the suggested tactics are similar for dealing with all three conditions, there are some important differences and the focus is different so it is important to define what you are struggling with.
Since social phobia is an anxiety disorder that frequently strikes children or begins in early adolescence and continues into and through adulthood, it is important to consider the manifestation of symptoms in childhood. Many of the physical reactions will be similar but for children they may also include:
– clinging to parents or other trusted and familiar people
– freezing or lack of talking
Many of the behavioral and attitude symptoms will be the same but should be adjusted for the age of the child. Children will also struggle with expressing and understanding their fears.
For children and adolescents it is important to distinguish between phobia symptoms and general adolescent growing pains.
The symptoms of this phobia often work in a vicious circle. The symptoms lead to actual or perceived poor performances, which in turn increase the anxiety and avoidance.
Understanding the origins or causes of your social phobia will help with treatment and give you further insight into how to battle these feelings and the difficulties they present.
Image from book: Dying of Embarrassment: Help for Social Anxiety & Phobia.
Download your free eBook “Stop Panic Attacks and Deal with Your Anxious Thoughts” at the Panic Goodbye program site.
Bertil Hjert is author of the Panic Goodbye program.
This program includes 7 eBooks about relieving Panic and Anxiety Attacks, Agoraphobia, OCD, and Social Phobia; using Abdominal Breathing & Meditation, Body & Mind relaxation, and Yoga & Progressive Muscle Relaxation.