Impact of social anxiety on the life of sufferer

Impact of social anxiety on the life of sufferer

We all go through from a bit of nervousness, sweaty palms, stammering when asked to speak in front of everyone in the large assembly. It’s a challenge for everyone to perform in front of a gathering. Many famous leaders like Warren Buffet, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln etc. had stage fright to the point they were afraid to say their name aloud. Many students have fear of public speaking because of lack of confidence. Here, instructor plays an important role. With effort and support every student has a potential to become a great public speaker. Ralph Wado Emerson quoted “All great speakers were bad speaker at first”. It’s very common for people to experience fear to speak in public but when this fear impacts daily functioning of the individual. Then he/she finds difficulty in going about their life. Thus, clinically called as social anxiety disorder. According to American Psychiatric Association {APA}, social Anxiety disorder is defined as a persistent and irrational fear of being in a social situation. People with this problem will try to avoid social gathering and endure it with greater anxiety. Common example of this is: experiencing uneasiness when eating or drinking in public, extreme fear of attending social gathering. Also, people having social anxiety will not go to public restrooms and they will feel that they are constantly being watched in social situations. All this will impair their daily functioning. The time duration to diagnose social anxiety is at least six months. Social anxiety often runs in families and has comorbidity with other disorder such as depression or another anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety sometimes self-medicate using alcohol or other drugs with leads to addiction these substances. Social anxiety can lead to:-

- Depression

- Low self esteem

- Negative thoughts

- Sensitivity to criticism

- Poor social skills

The one who suffers from Social Anxiety faces even greater challenges. It simply restricts one from living their life. The situation which others perceive normal will appear as hindrance for one going through with social anxiety. Interpersonal relationships take a hit due to social anxiety. It has been found that high social anxiety is connected to low levels of trust and perceived support in interpersonal relationships. These individuals have difficulty in trusting their partners which shakes the roots of their relationship. It also affects the self-esteem of the individual who is suffering from SAD and as a result will question themselves hundred times before carrying out certain tasks. Person might weave thousand excuses to avoid gatherings as well as experiencing difficulty at workplace such as talking with colleagues, giving presentations. Hence, one’s occupational life will suffer. Even buying goods at market will appear as herculean task and feeling of being constantly evaluated will chew the person alive. The individual becomes highly self- conscious of oneself and isolations seems like a relief camp. Social anxiety can trigger eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa as physical appearance also becomes the center of attention.

On the basis of cognitive model of SAD, the root cause of social anxiety lies in a strong desire to convey a favorable impression of oneself to others with marked insecurity. Those who have social anxiety have dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs about them. Their ways of interpretation are covered with cognitive errors which increase their existing problems even more. Cognitive distortions are defined by Beck et all as cognitive constructs that arise due to wrong or ineffective information processing. Nonetheless, negative events in one’s life becomes focus of attention. Thousands of negative thoughts will overwhelm the person having social anxiety. Every task carried out by people suffering from social anxiety will end badly. These individuals tend to over generalize the situation. For instance, slight stammering in speech or stumbling in social situation becomes a very big deal for someone having social anxiety whereas one who doesn’t have social anxiety, these little mishaps won’t bother. In addition to this, those who suffer from social anxiety are very sensitive to criticism. It means that they take criticism to very personal level which will hamper their growth. When someone who doesn’t know that other person is suffering from social anxiety and they give their opinions, it does more damage than good. It’s because their self – esteem is low. Psychologist often provide constructive criticism. So, that it does disturb their well-being. Cognitive distortions such as magnification or overgeneralization, personalization is very common in individuals suffering from social anxiety. One will always compare oneself with others. Even though one realizes that their fear is irrational, one cannot help but feel anxious.

Women who have social anxiety has fear that she might humiliate herself which is far from the usual nervousness experienced in social situations. People suffering from social anxiety disorder consumes alcohol or other substances to reduce the impact of the symptoms. Thereby, developing addiction or dependency on substances. Alcohol dependency is very common in social anxiety disorder. Thus, those who experience social anxiety puts a lot of efforts to do things which others find simple even if it’s attending a gathering. They say that biggest challenge one can face is challenge presented by oneself – which is indeed true.

About the Author

Kajal Gupta
Student.

Ms Kajal Gupta is pursuing B.A honors in Applied Psychology from Amity University, Haryana.

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