People occasionally feel nervous meeting
People occasionally feel nervous meeting a new person or speaking in front of a group. People with social anxiety disorder (SAD), however, become overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious even in everyday social situations. Theirs is an intense and persistent fear of being scrutinized by others or of doing something embarrassing. Even though they may find their own anxiety unreasonable, they can't overcome it by themselves. (Weyth 2009)
As a result, people with social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, tend to avoid the social situations they fear. That can make their situation worse by interfering with work, ordinary activities, and the ability to make friends. People with social anxiety disorder sometimes force themselves to enter a social situation. This is often accompanied by intense anxiety before the situation, discomfort during the encounter, and horrible worrying afterward. The person will often wonder how they were judged by the others who were in attendance.
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Up to 13% of adults will have social anxiety disorder at some time in their life. A recent estimate indicates that about as many American adults have social anxiety disorder as have a major depressive disorder. (Weyth 2009)
Social anxiety disorder usually begins in the teenage years and continues into adulthood. People may develop the disorder after a childhood history of shyness or social inhibition. Others experience an abrupt onset after a humiliating experience.
It is thought that genes may play a role in getting this disorder. For example if a biological parent or sibling has had social anxiety disorder you are at greater risk for getting it. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that is linked to social anxiety disorder. Chemical abnormalities as well as overactive areas in the brain are thought to be a cause.
So, what are the treatments? Well, Prescription medication that affects serotonin may help relieve symptoms. You could also use desensitization techniques for someone who may not want to be medicated.
This could affect family life in several ways. Avoidance of social situations could make it very difficult at large family gatherings for any occasion. The family may find themselves feeling excluded from other extended family members. A lot of times the family may avoid these get togethers altogether to spare the discomfort of the situation for the family member with the disorder. The family may attend the public events or activities and then have to leave early. This may cause tension between family members who may feel like they have to make great sacrifices for the one person who is ill.
I think it is very easy to see how this would affect different cultures in different ways. Mexican families are more family oriented they tend to have large extended families. If a family member were to quit coming to family functions it would be noticed much quicker than if, let's say a Caucasian person were to quit coming to family functions. I say this only because Caucasian families seem much more distant and less involved. I think that any culture would feel the effects spiritually. This is just another group event where they will have the wonderful opportunity to feel as though they are being judged. Getting to feel intensely self conscious like all eyes are on you waiting to pick you apart.
I'm sure having a normal sex life is just as terrifying for a person with social anxiety disorder. Committing the most personal act between two people, and having to leave yourself totally vulnerable, I just don't see it happening very often for someone with this disorder.
The only prevention for this disease that I think may work, is to make sure that your children have an active social life growing up. Make sure they interact well with others and have many opportunities to do so.
The best solutions I can come up with for this disorder are these. Identify client's strengths. Have the client make a list of strengths and refer to it when experiencing negative feelings. He or she may find it helpful to put the list on a note card and to carry it with him/her. Monitor the clients use of defense mechanisms and support the use of healthy defenses.(e.g.,. focusing on present, avoids placing blame on others for personal behavior). Have group members support each other in a group setting. Use role playing to increase social skills. (Mosby's 2009)
I really feel that using desensitization techniques could help. There are some people with this disease who had active social lives. They just had one too many humiliating experiences. If we could just help them to have some really good experiences to help build their social confidence I think that they may have a chance at living without social anxiety disorder. It is definitely worth a try.
A person with social anxiety disorder can have a fairly normal life. It takes some effort on their part, as well as a good family support system. The use of medications can help with decreasing the anxiety, and counseling can help with preparing for them to deal with situations that may cause them anxiety. A person with social anxiety disorder can lead a long, productive, and happy life.
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