How to Talk to Your Therapist When You Have Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called a social phobia, is characterized by intense fear or anxiety of being negatively evaluated, judged, or rejected in a social situation. Individuals with social anxiety often limit their interaction with people outside of their close family and friends. While the degree to which social anxiety impacts an individual varies, it can become persistent, impacting daily life, self-esteem, and happiness. However, like other mental health disorders, social anxiety can be treated with psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy.
How Common is Social Anxiety?
While it’s not uncommon for someone with a social anxiety disorder to feel alone and misunderstood, social anxiety is very common. In fact, SAD impacts nearly 7% of the world’s population. While treatable, when left untreated, social anxiety can wreak havoc on those who suffer from it.
Social anxiety can range from mild to severe and can be triggered by many different situations. Common triggers for social anxiety may include:
- Job interviews
- Parties and social gatherings
- Public speaking
- Business meetings
While most people experience social anxiety from time to time, this anxiety can become persistent and severe in some cases. Unmanaged social anxiety can make even the smallest social engagements uncomfortable and unpleasant. It can also make it challenging to form meaningful connections and relationships with other people.
Socially anxiety is generally categorized into two categories: non-generalized and generalized. An individual with non-generalized social anxiety does not experience social anxiety all of the time. Instead, specific types of social situations work as a trigger for their anxiety (such as a job interview or a first date). An individual with a generalized social anxiety disorder will avoid most social interactions. These individuals experience an overwhelming fear of negative judgment or rejection, which hinders their ability to engage socially.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety goes beyond the occasional fear of interacting with others. Individuals with severe social anxiety worry that they will be judged by the people they interact with, and this fear keeps them from living their life to the fullest. Over time, this anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms to include shortness of breath, increased heart rate, faintness, excessive sweating, and shaking.
Individuals with social anxiety may also often experience anxious thoughts, such as “I won’t belong” or “No one will like me.” Many people with social anxiety often want to enjoy socializing with others and want to be included in social activities. However, their anxiety prevents them from doing so. Therapy can help an individual with SAD address the root cause of their social anxiety while providing them with tools and solutions to overcome their anxiety levels.
Social Anxiety and Therapy
It can be hard to open up to a psychologist or therapist when you have social anxiety. After all, therapy is a social experience, which is the very thing that activates social anxiety. Individuals with a social anxiety disorder may initially find it difficult to trust their therapist or open up during their sessions. They may also find it challenging to appear vulnerable for fear of being judged or rejected.
Like with any other relationship, you need to give it time. Although it can be hard to imagine, over time, patients become more comfortable with their therapists. When you find the right therapist, you will begin to trust them enough to open up about your life honestly, and while you may experience social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder can be a profoundly frustrating and painful condition, but it’s also a treatable one. With the right therapies delivered in a supportive and safe environment, you can develop the inner resources needed to restore functionality, enhance your confidence, and create your life.
Clearminds offers a comprehensive approach for individuals grappling with mental health disorders. Contact a team member to learn more about how our services can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.