Social Anxiety: More than a Social Fear

by Juan Contreras | July 2021

Social anxiety may take the form of several mental and physical symptoms. 

We may find ourselves thinking about how others interact with us and how we interact with them. We may find ourselves constantly evaluating our actions and how others might perceive us in social interactions. We may find ourselves ruminating, replaying in our minds what could happen if we said or did something differently, and rehearsing upcoming social interactions to avoid embarrassment. Physically, we might notice our heart pounding, have the urge to escape, tremble, sweat, and even panic.

Whether mental, physical, or both, these experiences are debilitating and interfere with our daily functioning. For example, social anxiety may lead to avoidant behavior such as isolation from others, avoiding social interactions altogether, avoiding long social conversations, and more. As a result, we may fail in maintaining our friendships and social circles; we may even avoid scheduling a therapy appointment to seek support.

Social anxiety keeps us from being our best authentic selves. With the support of your therapist, you can create a safe and validating space to explore your experiences, you can develop personal therapy goals, and engage in targeted interventions. These interventions are designed more than to alleviate symptoms but to enhance your sense of self and recover your self-esteem, and empower the identities you hold, for you to thrive in life. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Social anxiety disorder is more than a fear of public speaking. 
  • Social anxiety disorder may include negative thinking about and during social interactions, avoidant behaviors (e.g., isolation), and physiological symptoms.  
  • Through psychotherapy, you can create a safe and validating space to explore your experiences. Aside from interventions targeting emotions, behaviors, and thoughts, you can also work on empowerment so that you can be your best authentic self.   


   
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