What is social anxiety (anxiety)? What are the symptoms?

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Social anxiety is defined as the fear of blushing, sweating, trembling hands, doing something wrong that will humiliate oneself while speaking in public or doing any action. It is the fear of being negatively evaluated by other people. When forced to enter such situations, the person is disturbed by the symptoms of anxiety (anxiety). The person avoids entering the community by finding various excuses, fearing that these symptoms and anxiety will be noticed by everyone in the community. In situations that he cannot avoid, for example, if he is going to give a speech, he starts to experience anxiety days or even weeks beforehand. The most common symptoms of social anxiety include speaking in public, participating in conversation, eating and drinking, and using public restrooms.

Considering the prevalence of social anxiety in our country; It was found as 2.3% in women and 1.1% in men. It has been observed that this situation of people with social anxiety is accompanied by depression due to reasons such as avoiding social environments and getting away from activities they enjoy.

The main feature that distinguishes social anxiety from other anxiety disorders is that the person cares too much about what others think of him. The basic fear is to be humiliated in front of others, to be disgraced. The person thinks “They will make fun of me” and gets worried. Along with his anxiety, his heartbeat quickens, his throat becomes dry, his face turns red, his voice trembles, his hands tremble, his legs twitch, and the added anxiety of being noticed. In order not to be noticed, he avoids social situations, conversations, visiting guests, hosting guests, asking questions in the classroom, expressing his opinion, participating in foreign environments, talking to people he considers superior to himself, and performing a performance. If he had to do these, he may not make eye contact, speak little and briefly, sit in places where he will not be noticed, play with something in his hand all the time… Therefore, as these escape, avoidance and security-seeking behaviors continue, social anxiety continues to grow.

Subtypes of Social Anxiety:

Performance

Such as speaking out in public, doing sports, playing musical instruments, dancing.

Social Interaction

Such as meeting, participating in a conversation, dating someone, expressing your opinion, defending your rights.

observation

Such as walking down the street, taking the bus, entering the room later, using open toilets, eating with someone.

Most Common Symptoms:

• Flushing and tremors in the muscles are 2 times more common than people with panic disorder.

• Palpitations (79%), tremors (75%), sweating (74%), muscle tension (64%), stomach discomfort (63%), dry throat (61%), feelings of warmth/coldness (57%), head pressure (46%)

The Person with Social Anxiety Watches Himself:

• The person with social anxiety starts to monitor himself to understand how he looks in social situations and his fears are produced by himself.

• Less attention to the outside and what is going on

• Positive reactions from other people are not noticed

Feeling anxious is the same as appearing anxious: One assumes that one looks the same as one feels.
Imagine yourself from the observer’s point of view: According to the person, everyone in the environment has noticed the anxiety and difficulty experienced by him. Images come to his mind that he looks bad, weak, helpless from the outside, and he believes them.
Feeling self: Disconnects from dialogue with other people. The person’s attention is always on himself. He follows his hands, feet, every move and what he says, and becomes distant from the environment.

Rules that the Person Sets for Oneself Regarding Social Performance:

I must be very intelligent, bright and fluent
There should be no silence in speech
I have to earn everyone’s admiration
I must show no sign of weakness
No one should notice that I’m anxious
I should only speak when other people are quiet
I shouldn’t bore the person next to me
I should always say important and interesting things.

The person puts these rules on himself without even being aware of it and tries to live according to these rules. You may have noticed that these rules are not realistic for anyone. It is impossible to live by these unrealistic rules. It creates anxiety and stress. It is necessary not to make an effort or get rid of it so that the anxiety and stress it creates, but to shake the rules that one has set for himself.

Beliefs of the Person Experiencing Social Anxiety:

The person experiencing social anxiety starts to have certain beliefs as a result of their avoidance. Many also experience social anxiety because they hold these beliefs. These beliefs need to be studied and shaken by addressing them in psychotherapy.

• About himself: inadequate, weak, powerless, helpless, unwanted, different, (in a negative sense), strange, strange, stupid, ugly, unloved…

• Regarding others: strong, critical, cynical, superior, intolerant…

As a result, a person with social anxiety does not focus on enjoying life, enjoying the environment, but on his own performance, how he looks, how he talks, what he does. In order not to experience this intense strain, he often stays away from environments. This causes him to isolate himself, not to do what he can do, and maybe not to realize his dreams. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapy method that has proven effective in social anxiety therapy all over the world. If you think you have social anxiety, you can talk to a professional CBT practitioner in your area and overcome this problem.

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