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Counselling for Social Anxiety
Do you feel extremely nervous in social situations? We can help.
Everyone feels anxiety in social situations from time to time. Events like job interviews, presentations, and meeting new people can all be very stressful. However, if your fear of interacting with others is negatively affecting your daily life, it may be more serious.
Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is one of the most common anxiety disorders. It can be extremely disruptive to everyday activities and lead people to miss out on many opportunities.
You don’t need to let social anxiety rule your life. Book a consultation today with one of our mental health specialists who can help you learn tools to overcome this debilitating disorder.
What Does Social Anxiety Feel Like?
Social anxiety makes it very difficult to have interactions with other people. It is common to experience excessive fear of being judged by others or humiliated in front of people. If you avoid interacting with others because of thoughts like “they’ll think I’m stupid,” you may be experiencing social anxiety.
Symptoms of social anxiety can occur in response to social interactions (i.e., conversations with others), being observed (i.e., eating in public), and performing in front of others. Everyday activities such as speaking on the phone or meeting strangers can feel overwhelming.
Physical symptoms of social anxiety may include:
Feel flush or blushing
Shaking or trembling
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Dry throat or mouth
Rapid heart rate
In children, their fear or anxiety of social situations may be expressed through crying, tantrums, freezing, or refusing to speak.
The physical symptoms of social anxiety are also accompanied by negative thoughts about yourself or your own abilities, such as “nobody wants to talk to me”, “people will think I’m weird”, or “I’m going to fail”.
Social anxiety leads people to miss out on many important events in their lives. In order to avoid the distress caused by interactions, it is common to skip things like job interviews, shopping trips, eating out, or even dating.
Will My Social Anxiety Go Away if I Don’t Seek help?
Social anxiety often begins during the teenage years, leading many people to assume they will grow out of it. For some people, it may reduce as they get older. For the majority of people with social anxiety, they need treatment to manage the symptoms. If you have been experiencing extreme distress surrounding social situations for 6 months or more, you should seek consultation with a mental health professional.
Is it Shyness or Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is different from shyness because it is persistent in many situations, and it significantly disrupts your life. It is common to assume that children with social anxiety are “just being shy.” However, children with social anxiety are not just fearful of interacting with adults, they also have distress when socializing with peers.
For children and adults alike, social anxiety is also unique in that the reaction to the situation is out of proportion or excessive. Even seemingly minor interactions can cause a great deal of distress. If someone with social anxiety does endure an event that causes them stress, it can generate intense fear and anxiety.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
There isn’t one exact cause of social anxiety. People may be likely to develop social anxiety due to a combination of factors such as:
Family history: You are at a higher risk of developing social anxiety if you have a family member with an anxiety or mood disorder.
Exposure to Trauma: Trauma experienced in childhood, such as abuse, bullying, or family conflict, can increase your likelihood of developing social anxiety. Children who experience teasing, rejection, or ridicule from their peers may be particularly prone to social anxiety disorder.
Biochemical Factors: Social anxiety has been linked to overactivity in an area of the brain called the amygdala. This brain structure is involved in controlling our fear response, and overactivity can heighten anxiety.
Temperament: People who are shy, timid, or withdrawn in new situations may be at a greater risk for developing social anxiety disorder.
Environmental Factors: Characteristics of your environment may increase your risk of social anxiety or make symptoms worse. Some environmental risks include having overprotective parents, a poor support system, or being different than peers (i.e., stuttering, facial disfigurement, or disability).
Social anxiety is a complex condition that can make you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and alone. Seeking counselling is one of the best ways to learn how to manage your symptoms and get your life back.
How is Social Anxiety Treated?
Social anxiety can be treated with counselling or a combination of counselling and medication. There are also lifestyle changes that can be made to support your recovery.
Counselling & Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder
Therapy is one of the most effective treatments for building long-lasting strategies to help you cope with the symptoms of Social Anxiety. Therapy is not a temporary fix for the problems social anxiety causes. You will work with your therapist to learn effective coping mechanisms and techniques to help you learn how to control your anxiety and replace negative thoughts.
Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are commonly used with social anxiety. Your therapist will help you identify the negative thinking patterns holding you back and teach you how to deal with anxiety when facing stressful events. Through your sessions, you will gradually learn to face social situations rather than avoiding them.
If you have experienced trauma, our team of therapists specializes in helping clients identify the roots of their struggles and learn effective tools for overcoming them.
Reach out today to book a session with one of our therapists and let a trained professional help you navigate your symptoms and start living your life again.
Counselling for Social Anxiety in Vaughan, Woodbridge & Greater Toronto Area
Our team here at Life in Harmony is committed to providing you with the absolute best treatment to help you or a loved one deal with social anxiety. Our team is experienced, diverse, and offers an array of treatment approaches that can be specifically tailored to your needs.