Social anxiety disorder takes many forms.
It can be described as an inappropriately inflated sense of self-consciousness. In some people, social anxiety appears in their constant worries that others are watching them critically. In others, it can lead to situations where they simply refuse to engage in any social interaction.
Almost everyone is, on some level, familiar with depression, but social anxiety disorder does not get as much attention as other mental health problems. Fairly well known is also, anxiety, in the form of panic attacks and similar problems. Despite the fact that social anxiety disorder is the third most common mental health problem facing Americans, it still is not well understood by most people.
The quality of a person`s life can significantly be reduced by social anxiety disorder in its less severe form, and in its more extreme forms, the disorder can be almost entirely debilitating, rendering a person totally unable to interact with others.
There is no cure for social anxiety disorder. Unlike the better-known problems of depression and panic disorders, no medications developed show any significant ability to combat the problem. Those diagnosed with depression, or who suffer with panic attacks, may be able to relieve symptoms with prescription medications, but the person with social anxiety disorder has to rely on other treatment modalities.
The only form of treatment that has shown to provide any real substantive change among those with a social anxiety disorder is therapy based on a cognitive model. It is possible for someone saddled with this problem to improve his or her health markedly over time, by increasing awareness, learning coping skills, and retraining thought patterns. Research indicates that many sufferers begin to notice a significant improvement in their condition after a few dozen visits to a behavior therapist. Often, group therapy is an included part of the treatment regimen.
It should be noted that not everyone who worries what others think about him or her has an anxiety disorder. The problem arises when those concerns become too powerful and prevent the individual from engaging in otherwise desired interactions. It is quite common to have a bit of concern about what others might think of your new haircut. It is perfectly normal, to allow your mind to be overwhelmingly preoccupied with such consideration, or to let your worries interfere with your ability to function, in an appropriate manner.
If a person experience significant discomfort as lumps in your throat, fear, or unreasonable worry about social interactions, he or she may be experiencing an anxiety disorder and should seek the advice of a medical professional. The problem is treatable with cognitive therapy, and it is possible to live a life without the irrational nonstop worries and inabilities to interact that are hallmarks of social anxiety disorder.