Social Anxiety Disorder
There are certain instances in life which bring about a major personality change in a person. These instances can make a person anxious especially in social situations or in interaction with people. It is this feeling of extreme anxiety in almost all sorts of social situations which we term as Social Anxiety Disorder.
Social Anxiety Disorder, as the name suggests refers to the unexplained, intense fear which is experienced as soon as the person steps into the social arena of any kind. This fear when not addressed might even reach a pinnacle that in the apprehension of a social engagement, one might experience a panic attack. This condition pertains to an unexplained, almost exaggerated fear over one’s presence/interaction in social situations such that either there might be a complete absence of a social life or the person experiencing the anxiety might engage in minimal interactions such that one can quickly get over one’s work and hurry back to the safety of the home. The anxiety being experienced persistently can be very visible in one’s behavior when one is forced to engage. For instance, in such situations as facing a large audience in the form of debate competitions or the like, the person might either completely stop talking or stammer a lot. The unexplained fear can be partially understood as a fear of constant negative evaluation, rejection of oneself, or a fear of offending others. This is a sense can also induce constant fears of abandonment because of which interactions might be constantly avoided.
The causes for social anxiety disorder might be many but the most commonly known might be the occurrence of a past traumatic social event that has had serious consequences. Parenting styles could also play a role such that when a child is not allowed to engage freely with other children or restricted in certain social engagements or constantly scrutinized, taunted for certain personality or behavioral patterns; that child is likely to develop social anxiety and when not addressed with timely intervention might even proceed to take the serious turn of a disorder such that its starts affecting one’s way of living itself.
Asian countries especially India is known for their diverse culture and carry forward the legacy of collective identity proudly. We are born and brought up by imbibing the relational patterns such that living in the midst of family, friends, and society is the norm. Collective living whether in actual conditions in the form of joint families or psychologically in terms of society is a normal way of life. The present conditions owing to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have somewhat brought about a sudden stop to this culture. Everyone was forced to lock themselves in their homes with occasional outings only for provisional purposes. The idea of social distancing became not just a matter of maintaining a few feet distance between two individuals; rather, it became complete social isolation with a lack of physical presence, warmth, etc. Technology which as it is had overpowered everyone’s life and brought about an isolated environment even between family members; only managed to reinforce this attitude in the form of online classes, work from home, etc. Lack of proper, physical social interaction between people especially for children who are in the formative years of life (development span wherein children also have to inculcate and develop their social life through play or otherwise) might bring about drastic effects in later life leading to a ruin of social relationships immediately or more visibly in later life. During the lockdown period, it was generally observed that children/adults during online classes, work-related activities, etc, kept their videos off, people either gained weight or lost some drastically. Major lifestyle changes occurred as a result of which everyone was forced to face mental health issues. In such circumstances, it would not be wrong to say that the period after the pandemic and lockdown is going to be a very sensitive one wherein constant reassurance, love, care, and understanding might be expected from everyone. Going back to the earlier routine of social productivity might take time and it is important that as a society and as responsible human beings, we allow that time and resources for a person to make his/her way back into the crux of things. It is natural for a person to feel socially anxious in such serious circumstances and we must allow the person that organic process of reintegrating because if it is not addressed properly, it might lead to a severe form of disorder wherein it starts affecting a person’s personal, social and occupational/academic life.