Social anxiety is one of the most confusing and isolating mental health conditions. You may know that you need treatment but cannot bring yourself to talk to anyone because you just don’t like interacting with anyone, especially strangers. Social anxiety can be tricky, making you feel awkward and shy around people, no matter how nice or welcoming they may be. Sometimes you may feel like everyone is judging you or talking about you. At other times, you may make plans with a friend or family member, but then cancel them at the last minute. You may feel immediate relief that you do not have to go, but then feel guilty for canceling.
What Social Anxiety Is
Social anxiety can creep up on you gradually, or a sudden onset may happen after an experience that makes you feel uncomfortable. For example, you may have been speaking in front of people and made a mistake, causing a few people to laugh, and now you refuse to speak in public or even go out in public. Maybe you were brought up in a home where you were constantly put down, made fun of, or bullied. Social anxiety is a fear of being being judged negatively by others, and feeling inadequate. It is actually the third most common mental health condition in adults, and affects approximately 7% of the population in the U.S. Some of the symptoms include:
- Intense fear of meeting people or talking to others
- Constant or crushing stress
- Fear of being judged
- Dizziness or fainting
- Trembling or shaking
- Fast heart rate
- Trouble swallowing
- Inability to make decisions
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Red face or flushing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Panic attacks
What Social Anxiety Isn’t
If you are just shy or sometimes feel nervous in situations, that does not mean you have social anxiety. Just being tense or nervous about an upcoming interview, meeting, or date does not mean you are suffering from social anxiety. Being nervous about meeting someone new or interviewing for a job is normal. And there are a lot of people who do not like to speak in front of a crowd. This is not social anxiety; these are normal emotions in situations than can cause stress. However, if you are hiding in your house afraid to go to work or school because you do not want to be around anyone, you need to talk to someone about it.
Online Counseling is the Best Counseling for Social Anxiety
So, why is online counseling so beneficial to those who suffer from social anxiety? Being able to converse with someone online rather than in person is a major benefit. You do not have to leave the house, and because you can communicate through text, chat, email, or on the phone, you do not have to speak to anyone in person. For many people with social anxiety disorder, this can make a world of difference and those who were not able to get counseling before are now able to get treatment at home.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade; covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.