Social anxiety plagues many people today. This is Derek’s story.
“It started back in kindergarten. The heart palpitations, the dizziness, the shaking – the overwhelming panic associated with being line leader. Most kindergartners cherished the chance to stand at the front of the line and walk the rest of class quietly down the hall. But for me, it was pure torture. I felt deathly ill and, eventually, ended up in the nurse’s office with a fever. They called my mom and asked if she could pick me up. Once in the safety of my mom’s car, the fever quickly subsided and I felt totally fine.
“I’m told this wasn’t the first panic I’d experienced, and it certainly hasn’t been the last. Some people called me shy when I was young, but I learned that what I suffered from – and still suffer from occasionally – is social anxiety.” – Derek *
Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia, is characterized by extreme fear and panic in social situations. The fear is so extreme for some individuals that it keeps them from living normal lives. Blushing, headaches, palpitations, sweating, shaking, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, and dizziness are just some of the physical symptoms of the panic associated with this crippling disorder.
The Pain Called Panic
For an individual with a social anxiety disorder, activities ranging from answering the door to making a phone call can cause the inner voice of fear to scream loudly. Sometimes it’s so bad that it causes a state of paralysis. If you know someone who suffers from this condition, or if you suffer from social phobia yourself, many of the following painful situations may ring true with your personal experiences. To understand how someone with social anxiety may be triggered, you must know of the different types of situations associated with panic.
- Talking. Whether it’s with classmates, coworkers, friends, or doctors, talking can trigger a panic. For some, it’s when they are in front of a crowd, and for others, it’s during a one-on-one conversation. The panic associated with talking makes it difficult to interact with others in daily activities.
- Having an audience. The fear that others are watching and judging can be really tough for some. Daily activities such as driving, signing a check, or playing sports can cause someone to isolate themselves in order to avoid the paralyzing panic.
- Attending or hosting events. The fear of not knowing what to say during social conversation often holds individuals back from attending or hosting social activities. This fear is often present even when being around family members and close friends.
The list of possible triggering situations is endless. The underlying cause, fear of embarrassment and humiliation, is universal to every panic-inducing situation. For some individuals, anticipatory anxiety gets the best of them. For others, recall after an event is more torturous as they mull over every action and word in their minds.
Hopeful Journey Toward a Panic-Free Life
So how do you or a loved one move forward toward a panic-free life? Is there any hope?
Yes, of course! Understanding the pain and triggers is the first step toward initiating healing. Take that understanding and incorporate some of these practices to start living panic free.
- Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing slows down the mind and the heart. Practice deep breathing daily so it becomes second nature. You should immediately begin the deep breathing when panic-inducing situations are anticipated. This will help to keep panic at bay.
- Learn CBT for social anxiety (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Therapists are great resources for teaching individuals how to incorporate CBT into their lives. There are also many self-help manuals and programs to help aid individuals in this process.
- Take medication. There are several anti-anxiety medicines that can help calm the socially-anxious mind. A physician can help you find the right fit. Sometimes medications are necessary long-term solutions, but not often. Medications are typically used on a short-term basis to help individuals deal with the added anxiety caused by therapy until the CBT begins to help.
- Use natural remedies. Many natural remedies are available. Herbs and essential oils have been found to be great alternatives to medications. They can also be used to provide additional support to medication treatments.
Whichever social anxiety reducing practice an individual chooses to embrace, there will be an improvement. Social phobia does not need to hold anyone back from enjoying the present, reaching their goals, and achieving their dreams.
Back To Derek
And my friend Derek? Well, he didn’t let his social fears hold him back. He had setbacks along the way, even dropping out of college because professors required class presentations. But today, Derek has a masters degree, a wife, and a young child. He still panics from time to time, but by practicing the aforementioned skills, he successfully prevented them from becoming debilitating. Derek has moved forward on his hopeful journey toward a panic-free life.
*Derek is a fake name used to protect the privacy of the individual.
Indy Summers is a freelance writer interested in fashion, healthy living, fitness, and self-improvement. She has worked as a master in esthetician, personal trainer, and freelance model for several years before adding freelance writer to her list of work.
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