Many of you ask questions about “Social Anxiety”. So let me tell you about my understanding.
Initially when I heard about it I thought, “Oh, no! don’t tell me psychiatry has come up with a diagnosis for shyness.” But the more I studied I realised it wasn’t that. People can be shy, or introverted and and not have social anxiety.
Because anxiety is about “fear”. It is the activation of the fight/flight mechanism via thought.
Yes, all of that can be switched on by one thought!!!
Let me show you how.
So thoughts abut an event e.g. walking into a room, switch on the anxiety mechanism convincing you that there is something to be afraid of. However this is perceived but not real threat. But the amygdala the survival part of your brain cannot make this differentiation.
Then I started to discover that is was not just the fear of the social situation. Because a lot of people with social anxiety can socialise and go into groups all the time. The real phobia was actually a fear of other peoples’ eyes.
Because other peoples’ eyes risk the fear of being negatively evaluated. The Fear of Negative evaluation is the phobia. The fear of being judged, the fear of being embarrassed. That is the phobia.
Social anxiety is part of the anxiety family.
It mostly overlaps with worry. People can worry and not have social phobia, but everyone with social phobia worries. Because you are worried about what people are thinking about you.
In cognitive therapy we address this particular belief by pointing out that you cannot mind read and so how can you read others peoples’ minds and know what they are thinking?
Medication does not really help. The anti-depressants can be of help if you are depressed and anxious. but to be honest Cognitive behavioural therapy is the preferred treatment option.
In case you are still wondering about whether or not you have social anxiety here is a CBT formulation of the condition.
I will continue with these tutorials as we go along about the anxiety disorder. That way I reach more of you in a meaningful way.
Do you have a question about anxiety, social anxiety, depression, sex, relationships, mental health. Ask Gwendoline Now.