Social anxiety is a highly treatable disorder. However, like many mental health disorders, social anxiety is underdiagnosed and undertreated. In the USA, it is estimated that approximately million people suffer from an anxiety disorder yet only 36.9% seek help.
Social anxiety is unique as it is equally common among men and women (usually women are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder).
Many people report experiencing Social anxiety for 10 years or more before they seek help.
Social anxiety affects us in many ways, below are some of the ways this disorder has an impact on the overall quality of life.
Lack of assertiveness
Social needs for connectivity and belonging are not often met by sufferers of social anxiety. Due to a pronounced fear of hostility resulting from conflict, many do not develop healthy assertiveness skills.
This means that there may be an avoidance in following through with goals and objectives. This creates a pattern of underachievement. Additionally, many people who struggle with social anxiety isolate themselves despite a desire and a need to interact socially.
An attitude of helplessness
Over time, people who struggle with social anxiety may develop an attitude of helplessness. This can occur due to a pattern of underachievement in their lives.
Expecting to fail can justify a lack of motivation and a narrative of victimization. Such a narrative consists of real and perceived incidences of victimization.
While failure can be real, the experience is consistent with the challenges most people attempting to accomplish similar goals will experience. However, the overall perception of the situation and the self is different. With a healthy attitude and effort, the same challenges can be overcome with optimism, confidence, and assertiveness.
Feelings of sadness, low motivation, low energy and a general lack of interest to accomplish anything meaningful often co-occurs with social anxiety.
People with social anxiety can sometimes develop a habit of putting in minimum effort to accomplish goals. This is not due to laziness but is instead a result of fear. Sometimes self-sabotage has the motivation of refusing to face fears of having to interact with others. This pattern of putting in the bare minimum effort results in a pattern of failing to achieve or complete any meaningful goals in the person’s life.
Going hand in hand with depression is low self-esteem. People who experience social anxiety, due to associated failures end up having a low sense of self-worth. This often results in poor self-care, poor advocacy for self, and frequent associations with others who mirror and validate their own perceived low self-worth.
Physical symptoms such as sweaty palms and periodic episodes of hyperventilation are common among people who struggle with social anxiety. This keeps the body in a constant state of fight or flight, which over time compromises the immune system, making the person susceptible to frequent incidences of illness.
Treatment is available
There is no need to suffer from a treatable disorder. Therapy and life coaching have been shown to be very effective in reducing or eliminating social anxiety. A life coach or therapist will guide the development of coping skills, assertiveness, and social skills. If you are unable to visit my office online therapy is also available.