Mananaging Social Anxiety Disorder

MANAGING SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER INTRODUCTION 1. The concept of fear dated back as far as 400 BC. During this time, Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician described the overly shy person as “someone who loves darkness as life and thinks every man observes him”. When fear is persistent and exaggerated, it results to tension and stress and consequently, anxiety. 2. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as “a nervous disorder marked by a feeling of uneasiness”. An anxiety disorder involves an excessive or inappropriate state of arousal characterized by feelings of apprehension, uncertainty, or fear. There are seven common types of anxiety disorders. They include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. Others are, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation disorder, and social anxiety disorder (SAD) which is the focus of this paper. 3. The Microsoft Encarta defines SAD as “the fear of being publicly scrutinized and humiliated”. It exceeds normal fear and sometimes leads to excessive social avoidance and substantial social or occupational impairment. The fear may be made worse by a lack of social skills or experience in social situations. 4. The most common type of SAD is the fear of public speaking or performing in front of an audience. While everyone must have experienced anxiety at one point in time, people with SAD suffer from anxiety almost all the time. Sometimes, it can be so severe that they begin to experience panic. Sadly, most of these individuals think they can never control their fears or find a way out of this condition. While this may be true, it is important to note that effects of SAD can be resolved. The purpose of this paper therefore is to highlight ways of dealing with SAD. The paper will take a look at the types of SAD and the causes of SAD. Thereafter it will focus on the signs and symptoms of SAD and lastly it will examine the possible ways of managing SAD. AIM 5. The aim of this paper is to discuss the management of SAD. TYPES OF SAD 6. There are two main types of SAD. They are: a. Generalised SAD. b. Specific SAD. 7. Generalised SAD. A generalized SAD refers to fears associated with most social and performance situations such as speaking to authority figures, going on dates, starting conversations, and giving speeches. It is a more severe form of anxiety disorder and is thus, usually accompanied by greater impairment in day-to-day functioning. . Specific SAD. Specific SAD involves the fear a particular situation. For example, an individual may be able to dance comfortably in a party yet have a dreadful fear of speaking in public. Therefore the individual avoids public speaking as much as possible. CAUSES OF SAD 9. The causes of SAD include the following: a. Hereditary factors such as genes and abnormal chromosomes. b. Over protective upbringing thereby causing the child to lack self initiative or self confidence. c. Parental deprivation or attention-deficit causing the child to become withdrawn even when in the company of others. . Psychosocial factors which deals with the physical and psychological aspects of an individual. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SAD 10. According to Sidney Herbert, a social psychologist, the signs and symptoms of SAD can be viewed from 3 main aspects. They are: a. Cognitive Aspects. b. Behavioural Aspects. c. Physiological Aspects. 11. Cognitive Aspects. In cognitive models of SAD, social phobics experience great anticipation over how they will be presented to others. They may be overly self-conscious, pay high self-attention after the activity, or have high performance standards for themselves. Many times, prior to the potentially anxiety-provoking social situation, sufferers may deliberately go over what could go wrong and how to deal with each unexpected case. Consequently, they may have the perception they performed unsatisfactory. 12. Behavioural Aspects. The behavioural symptoms of SAD manifest in individuals when faced with almost any type of social interaction. Possible symptoms such as the mind going blank, increased heartbeat, blushing, stomach ache, nausea, and gagging may occur, thus resulting in self-defeating and inaccurate thoughts. 13. Physiological Aspects. Physiological effects, similar to those in other anxiety disorders, are present in social phobics. For example, when faced with an uncomfortable situation, children with SAD may display tantrums, weeping, clinging to parents, and shutting themselves out. In adults, it may manifest as tears, excessive sweating, nausea, shaking, and palpitations as a result of the fight-or-flight response. Additionally, blushing may be exhibited by the individuals thus, further reinforcing the anxiety in the presence of others. POSSIBLE WAYS OF MANAGING SAD 14. SAD could be managed in the following ways: a. Reducing physical symptoms of anxiety. b. Challenging Negative Thoughts. c. Gradually Facing Your Fears. 15. Reducing Physical Symptoms of Anxiety. Many changes happen in the body when a person becomes anxious. One of the first changes is that the individual experiences an increased breathing rate. Breathing rapidly throws off the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body thereby, triggering additional physical anxiety symptoms such as dizziness, a feeling of suffocation, increased heart rate, and muscle tension. Learning to slow down breathing can help bring physical symptoms of anxiety back under control. In addition to deep breathing exercises, regular practice of relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation will also help one get control thereby reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety. 16. Challenging Negative Thoughts. People who suffer from SAD usually have negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety. For example, thoughts such as “I know I will end up looking like a fool”, “people will think I am stupid”, or “I will not have anything to say” often reoccur. Challenging these negative thoughts, either through therapy or on your own, is one effective way to reduce the symptoms of SAD. The first step is to identify the automatic negative thoughts that underlie your fear of social situations. The next step is to analyze and challenge them. Through logical evaluations of negative thoughts, a person can gradually replace them with more realistic and positive ways of looking at social situations that trigger anxiety, therefore gradually eliminating that particular fear. 17. Gradually Facing Your Fears. One of the most helpful things you can do to overcome SAD is to face the social situations you fear rather than avoid them. Avoidance keeps SAD going. It prevents you from becoming more comfortable in social situations and learning how to cope. In fact, the more you avoid a feared social situation, the more frightening it becomes. The key is to start with a situation that you can handle and gradually, work your way up to more challenging situations. In addition, improving your communication skills helps as good relationships depend on clear, emotionally-intelligent communication. This would greatly assist in reducing SAD. CONCLUSION 18. Fear and stress reactions are essential for human survival. They enable people to pursue important goals and to respond appropriately to danger. However, when fear becomes so intense particularly when confronted with social functions, it is could result to SAD. 19. SAD may be of the general type which is a more severe form of anxiety disorder and is thus, usually accompanied by greater impairment in day-to-day functioning. Specific SAD on the other hand involves the fear a particular situation. 20. SAD may be caused by factors ranging from hereditary to psychosocial and the signs and symptoms could be visible from cognitive, behavioural or physiological perspectives. 1. While most people with SAD think they can never find remedy to their condition, methods such as reducing physical symptoms of anxiety, challenging negative thoughts and gradually facing your fears could help in managing the condition. REFERENCES 1. “Mental Health: Social Anxiety Disorder”. Webmd. com. https://www. webmd. com/anxiety-panic/guide/ 04-14-2010-. 2. Richard G. Heimberg Social Phobia: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment, Guilford Press pp. 29–30. 3. Pittler MH, Ernst E “Kava extract for treating anxiety”. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 4. Furmark, Thomas. Social Phobia – From Epidemiology to Brain Function. Retrieved February 21, 2006. 5. Shyness & Social Anxiety Treatment Australia Social Phobia – Causes. Retrieved February 22, 2006. 6. Studying Brain Activity Could Aid Diagnosis Of Social Phobia. Monash University. January 19, 2006. 7. Social Anxiety Disorder: A Common, Underrecognized Mental Disorder. American Family Physician. Nov 15, 1999. 8. Surgeon General Adults and Mental Health 1999. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. “Webmd. Mental Health: Social Anxiety Disorder”. Webmd. com. https://www. webmd. om/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-social-anxiety-disorder. Retrieved 2010-04-14. [ 2 ]. Richard G. Heimberg Social Phobia: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment, Guilford Press pp. 29–30. [ 3 ]. Pittler MH, Ernst E (2003). “Kava extract for treating anxiety”. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD003383. doi:10. 1002/14651858. CD003383. PMID 12535473. [ 4 ]. Sorrentino L, Capasso A, Schmidt M (September 2006). “Safety of ethanolic kava extract: Results of a study of chronic toxicity in rats”. Phytomedicine 13 (8): 542–9. doi:10. 1016/j. phymed. 2006. 01. 006. PMID 16904878.

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