Do you find yourself dreading meeting new people or social events?
An estimated 12.1% of adults suffer from a social anxiety disorder at one time or another in their lives. (1)
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is nothing new. However, due to the isolation caused by the pandemic, many people have been struggling to adapt to human interaction.
In this article, we will discuss the effects of social anxiety disorder and how to adapt after the pandemic.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is diagnosed after the presence of anxiety and more than one social situation for more than six months. They usually present with fear of scrutiny, humiliation, or embarrassment. It is usually presenting with the marked impairment in social academic route your patient’s settings. Patients usually present with episodic palpitations facial blushing and tremor excessive sweating rapid breathing and fear of humiliation.
The pandemic has caused these feelings to manifest in people that may have never experienced them until now.
Social anxiety disorder can be confused with antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder presents in patients who inflict harm and violate the rights of others, there are usually impulsive irritable aggressive have a history of fighting lack of responsibility deception and manipulation, and lack of remorse. It is usually a sequela of conduct disorder before the age of 18. Patients with social anxiety do not inflict such harm on others, rather just prefer to be in private. It’s crucial to separate social anxiety disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
Patients with an avoidant personality usually follow the belief that they are inferior to others, this can be a manifestation of childhood conditioning, lack of motivation, and lack of mindfulness. This can be a devastating experience as human beings can go their entire lives without reaching their potential.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
Due to the isolation the COVID-19 virus caused, more people are struggling with re-entry into social situations.
Social anxiety disorder is not always a sign of shyness and discomfort in social situations. This is especially true for children. Personality traits and life experiences can influence how comfortable you feel in social situations. Some people are naturally more reserved than others.
Social anxiety disorder is different from everyday nervousness. It includes anxiety, fear, and avoidance that interferes with relationships, daily routines as well as work, school, and other activities. Although it is most common in teens and adults, a social anxiety disorder can also occur in children younger than ten years old.
A social anxiety disorder may be more common in children who are subject to bullying, humiliation, rejection, ridicule or teasing. This disorder may also be linked to other negative life events, such as abuse, family conflict, or trauma.
How to overcome Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety can be treated. Strategies for dealing with it will vary based on how severe the disorder has affected your life and your personality. Your physician would likely recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or other less commonly prescribed treatments.
By challenging yourself, you can put yourself in positions that make you uncomfortable. This will help you get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Ways to challenge S.A.D. include:
- Start a conversation with a stranger
- Go to a social event
- Reach out to an old friend
- Public speaking
In turn, your next social event will not be a big deal because you are more experienced being around people.
Practice Deep Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing (or deep breathing) is the act of expanding your diaphragm while you breathe. This allows your stomach to rise and fall instead of your chest. An anxiety attack can cause you to take shallower breaths.
You will find it easier to relax during stressful times by learning how to slow down and breathe deeply in a relaxed environment. It is also the basis of many relaxation techniques, so it’s an important concept to learn.
After you have chosen a relaxation method, set a time and follow it through. Even though you may feel that you don’t have the time, this is a sign you should make it a priority to take some time out for relaxation. You might find yourself looking forward to the calm it brings to your life by incorporating weekly or daily practice.
People who have not experienced social anxiety may experience re-entry anxiety. This is a feeling of anxiety about the prospect of returning to their old routine, which includes school, work, handshakes, hugging, and attending social events large and small. They may become comfortable with the isolation and social distancing.
Social anxiety sufferers may find it difficult to re-enter the workforce. If you notice that someone is feeling anxious about going back to school, work, or socializing with friends, it is important to recognize that you are feeling worried.
Social anxiety can be managed by challenging yourself, using tools such as deep breathing, and practicing patience, in order to prepare for a return to a post-pandemic environment.
Mohamed Zeyara is a medical doctor and humanitarian who has helped raise millions of dollars to support underserved communities worldwide.