Therapy For Social Anxiety

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Therapy For Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is when a person becomes very anxious in social situations. People who have social anxiety tend to be overly critical of themselves. They overthink social interactions and are hypersensitive about not embarrassing themselves.

These are all signs of social anxiety:

  • Becoming really nervous when having to meet new people
  • Tend to shut down when in large groups or crowds
  • Being overly embarrassed at something you have said
  • You are so nervous about sounding silly that you cannot think of anything to say at all

What Is Social Anxiety Like?

A person with social anxiety feels a great deal of stress when in social situations. This stress can be so powerful that it causes the affected person to avoid social situations at all costs. More severe cases of social anxiety is considered social anxiety disorder.

Like other types of anxiety disorders, people who suffer from social anxiety will experience symptoms, like:

  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling shut down when in social interactions
  • Feeling unable to speak or interact with others
  • Believing you are making others feel uncomfortable
  • Feeling awkward or embarrassed
  • Feeling like people are judging you
  • Sweaty palms
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Racing thoughts
  • Anger or irritability

Social anxiety affects people in many different ways. For most, social anxiety causes a major strain on relationship building skills and socializing. A person with social anxiety may have difficulty making and maintaining friendships. They may also struggle with their own self-image and misinterpret how they are seen by others. This makes many different kinds of situations a challenge, including:

  • Attending social events
  • Participating in group conversation
  • Working with others
  • Performing or presenting information
  • Confronting others in a healthy way
  • Being assertive
  • Interacting with people
  • Speaking on the phone
  • Ordering food
  • Asking for help

The First Step: Identify Uncomfortable Social Situations

It is difficult to live with social anxiety, but there are things that can be done to reduce its effects. Reducing symptoms will make social situations easier.

Affected people have situations where we feel comfortable and situations that cause anxiety. Some people may be uncomfortable around people they do not know, while others do not do well in large crowds. Everyone is different, and it is important to be aware of the situations that cause the most stress for you.

The first step to reducing social anxiety is to identify your triggers. Everyone has different triggers and situations that cause social anxiety. It is important to understand your own triggers when seeking therapy.

How Therapy Helps People With Social Anxiety

Consulting with a therapist is an important part of overcoming your social anxiety. If you are having trouble identifying your triggers, that’s okay. Your therapist will be able to help you understand the situations that cause the most stress for you.

Your therapist is going to play a key role in learning how to manage your social anxiety. They will be able to help you to understand your triggers and how your triggers developed.

They will work with you by using different therapeutic techniques. These techniques help you understand and develop coping strategies for your social anxiety.

Effective forms of therapy that are incorporated into treatment for social anxiety include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). is a form of therapy that targets negative self-talk. The process of this technique is to:

  • Learn how to challenge your negative self-talk
  • Change how you interpret stressful situations

This process helps you restructure how you think and act in social situations.

Talk therapy is an important part of treating social anxiety. With talk therapy, you will learn how to identify the problem areas of your thinking, like:

  • Poor self-image
  • Overthinking
  • Drawing conclusions about others

Talk therapy also helps you learn how to strengthen your coping strategies. It does this by teaching you how to separate the past from the present and track your personal growth.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) incorporates mindfulness skills into therapy. With DBT, you learn how to regulate your anxious feelings, thoughts and behavior. DBT helps you learn how to cope with your social anxiety in the moment that you are feeling anxious. It helps you to relax your body and mind to reduce symptoms.

Muscle Relaxation Exercises. People with social anxiety suffer from muscle tension when feeling triggered. With muscle relaxation exercises, you can learn to relax when interacting with others.

Deep Breathing Exercises. Deep breathing makes a big difference for people who struggle with social situations. Deep breathing exercises help you learn how to breathe when feeling stressed. The breathing reduces symptoms like muscle tension and racing thoughts.

The oxygen you pull into your lungs creates a euphoric feeling. This euphoric feeling relaxes the muscles. It helps you feel calm in uncomfortable situations.

Seeking Therapy For Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is difficult to cope with. Sometimes it could feel like you are isolated, awkward, and can never get better. With these feelings, it is hard to feel worthy or capable of developing friendships, relationships and social hobbies. Each of these can feel isolating and can cause depression without therapy.

It is possible to improve your social skills and reduce your social anxiety. Therapy will help you learn ways to manage your symptoms. It is the first step in reducing your social anxiety and feeling better.

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