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Home My social anxiety is crippling me, but I want to overcome it! Are there ways for me to enjoy social interactions?

My social anxiety is crippling me, but I want to overcome it! Are there ways for me to enjoy social interactions?


Does meeting new people, let alone performing in front of others, paralyze you with fear? Do you feel self conscious in any social setting including having casual conversations or taking phone calls? Would you rather take the chance of getting lost rather than having to ask for directions? Do you fear being judged by others? 

A yes in all of these is normal for almost anyone at some point in life, but if these fears become a hindrance to living a high quality life and they have been true for many months, then it might be a serious problem.

Just shy or is it social anxiety? 

Social anxiety happens when anxieties about interacting with others inhibit our ability to do simple activities of daily living such as going to work or school.  These fears create negative situations in our school or work life and personal relationships. 

  • How much does anxiety hinder daily life? 
  • How intense is the fear or anxiety? 
  • How much do you avoid social situations? 

If these things grow in intensity and remain much longer, it is important to seek help. 

What increases my risk for social anxiety? 

Research has shown that social anxiety disorders may run in families. The way we have been raised also affects the risk. When parents were too controlling and intrusive, their children had a higher risk for social anxiety. Adverse life events that cause high stress levels also play a big role. 

What can I do to start managing my social anxiety? 

  1. Talk to your doctor. In this age of information, many of us are sometimes guilty of self-diagnosis. By going to a medical doctor, we can have our history discussed and our body be assessed through a physical exam. This is to make sure that what we feel is not because of a physical problem.  Then we may be referred to a mental health professional who is equipped in making a diagnosis, and who can help us with the appropriate treatment. Social anxiety may be mild, moderate or extreme, based on the symptoms of how they can participate in or endure social interactions and treatment will be based on the level of anxiety. 

Having this honest conversation with people you can trust can open you up for the support you need, because if it is left untreated, the symptoms can become increasingly paralyzing. It might lead to poor results in school and at work, a worsening of relationships and quality of life. 

Going to the doctor for social anxiety symptoms might be daunting at first, but preparing for your session helps. Ask your doctor questions such as: 

  • What type of mental health professional should I see? 
  • Do you recommend particular psychologists, psychiatrists or therapists? 
  • Where can I find support groups? 
  • Are there resources that you can recommend for me to read about social anxiety? 

  1. Psychotherapy in the form of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). CBT is a science-based approach that has consistent positive results in social anxiety disorders. Since fears and worries dominate the mind, CBT will teach you alternative ways of thinking and reacting. It helps you feel more in control of your worries. In addition, you will get practice in different social skills. 

ACT focuses on teaching you to be more present and aware of your negative thoughts and teaches you to set goals in order to decrease feelings of anxiety. ACT is newer than CBT, so less is known about its effectiveness. Though your mental health professional will be able to help you figure out the right treatment for you. 

  1. Find help in support groups and in a healthy lifestyle. A support group for people with social anxiety might become your source of encouragement, inspiration and effective strategies to overcome distorted thinking. 

While you are under the care of your doctor, it is vital that you boost your body's ability to combat stress through being physically healthy. When you eat food that is rich in nutrients, exercise regularly and sleep well, you make your recovery faster. 

Do not let social anxiety symptoms stop you from school, work and daily activities. It is a treatable condition and by learning about it, getting the proper support and treatment, you are on your way to living a fulfilling life!

Mental health and medical field careers are waiting for you. Check out these healthcare job opportunities and find one that matches your skills and talents! 

My social anxiety is crippling me, but I want to overcome it! Are there ways for me to enjoy social interactions?
Brandon Resasco