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Do You Have A Social Phobia?

Posted Oct 07 2009 4:41pm

Do you have a social phobia? Do you feel you cannot perform everyday functions such as walking down the street, going out for groceries, walking your dog or making phone calls without running through various embarrassing situations that may happen while performing those tasks? Do you feel especially vulnerable when having to deal with people other than yourself or your immediate family? Then you may be suffering from a social anxiety disorder or a social phobia.

Butterflies or Elephants?

Social phobia is an aversion to any social interaction due to the feeling of certainty that these interactions will cause embarrassment or humiliation to the person suffering from it. Speaking in public generally causes butterflies in your stomach. However, if you don’t have fluttering in your stomach but a stampede of elephant feet as well as the riot of the rest of the jungle, then you may be suffering from a social anxiety disorder and need to ask do you have a social phobia? The basic distinction between normal nervousness and a disorder is whether you are prevented from performing everyday tasks.  

Weaves into your life

The feeling of apprehension does not come and go but is persistent and pervasive in your daily social life. For example, you begin to dread going to the supermarket because you hate the feeling that you get while standing in the check-out line. You feel that people are looking at you or at the items that you bought and making criticisms on your personality based on those things.  You may also feel so self conscious that you feel you will surely end up making a fool of yourself in front of all these people.  

When you start feeling this way, the fear gradually builds up to the extent that you will stop going to the grocery altogether and find other less social means to purchase your necessities.  Unchecked, you end up reshaping your way of life to accommodate the fears you have of dealing with people. Sufferers either end up being socially awkward or they totally shun any form of public activity. Before this happens, you have to ask yourself “do you have a social phobia?” 

Physical sensations of fear

Do you have a social phobia? There are several physical manifestations of fear. Those who suffer from social anxiety disorder experience fast heartbeats, quick breathing, rigid or frozen facial muscles, clenching of the jaw muscles, inability to talk, cold and clammy hands, excessive sweating, shaking or trembling and feelings of nausea. In life threatening situations, it is normal to experience these reactions but if they happen in the course of the everyday, run-of-the-mill conversations with the mailman, a neighbor or a repairman then it becomes an aberration. 

How to deal with it

An affirmative answer to the question of “do you have a social phobia” is the first step in dealing with the problem. Next, choose a mental health professional with cognitive-behavioral therapy training and whom you feel very comfortable with. There are several methods and strategies to help you get socially integrated. Plan your sessions and determine whether you need medication or not. Most importantly, give a 100% commitment to the program.

By: D. More

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