Social Anxiety

“Butterflies”, or Something More?

Going to a job interview or dental appointment? Or do you have a big event like a prom or wedding? Butterflies appear in your stomach, you might get giggly, or develop sweaty palms. You might even breathe rapidly and your heart may beat a little faster, but it’s a completely typical reaction to any situation, positive or negative, that causes a little fear or is unfamiliar. It’s temporary and ends when the event or situation ends.

Anxiety is vastly different from the nervousness everyone experiences from time-to-time, and social anxiety is very challenging for those living with it. People with anxiety experience worry and fear that doesn’t go away. It doesn’t end when an appointment, interview, or big event ends. Those with generalized anxiety may also:

  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Be in a state of constant worry and fear
  • Experience other physical symptoms

Anxiety vs. Social anxiety

Generalized anxiety can be difficult to manage, but social anxiety may be even more difficult to cope with. Social anxiety is experienced when a person becomes almost emotionally paralyzed in public or group situations that most people navigate without struggle. Social anxiety affects the afflicted person by limiting their ability to:

  • Order their own food at a restaurant
  • Answer a question in school or during a work meeting
  • Interact in many social situations
  • Use the restroom in public

Social anxiety is different from being nervous in a situation because social anxiety causes the affected person to feel judged negatively and, at the very least, extremely embarrassed in a variety of social situations. The person experiencing social anxiety may have deep feelings of self-blame or depression, and it is continual. Social anxiety limits the life of a person to a significant degree.

Often a person with social anxiety avoids activities of daily living that the rest of us take for granted. Instead of getting nervous about speaking in public, a person with social anxiety may call in sick to work the day they have to present something because their symptoms are so debilitating. A person experiencing social anxiety feels inferior or inadequate, which causes them great distress. Additional symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Rapid pulse or breathing
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Being unable to make eye contact
  • Rigid posture or muscle twitches

These symptoms can appear when doing simple activities like ordering lunch or when doing something more weighty, like meeting the boss’s boss’s boss.

Are Treatments Available?

In short, yes, treatments are available for social anxiety.  Social anxiety can run in families, but there is no definitive research about why some family members are affected and not others. In addition to genetics, environment, and stress play a role in the development of a social anxiety disorder.

There are a variety of treatments available. For those in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, NY, treatment is available from Jason Meisel, NP, and Stephanie Owusu, PMHNP at Treatment is also available for those in New York state, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Treatment options may include:

  • Medication
  • Individual cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy

At Meisel NP Psychiatry, our treatment focuses on what works most effectively for you as an individual. We strive to provide compassionate, comprehensive care for you, and we are a safe, affirming space for the LGBTQIA+ community. Contact us at 740-777-6184 or to help you manage social (or other) anxiety. You deserve to live your best life and we want you to, as well.

Image credit: 

Envato Elements / valeriygoncharukphoto

Disclaimer: The information contained here is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.

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