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Do You Think That You Have Social Anxiety?

girl wearing a Sade shirt

May is Mental Health Awareness month and I decided to talk about social anxiety. It is time to raise awareness for those who have mental or behavioral health issues. It is to reduce the stigma around mental health. In 1949, the United States started to recognize mental health awareness month by the Mental Health America organization. Here is some data on mental health in America: (National Council, 2021).

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experiences serious mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.

Mental health is important to me because I have anxiety and depression. I’ve written two posts on my own mental health: “Mental Health Check-In” and ” Boundaries & Growth” that you can read as well. I have been learning more about social anxiety and how it affects myself and others.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder, sometimes referred to as social phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings. People with this disorder have trouble talking to people, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. They fear being judged or scrutinized by others. They may understand that their fears are irrational or unreasonable, but feel powerless to overcome them.

Valencia Higuera, 2018

Social anxiety can affect our relationships with family and friends, work, and school. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that approximately 15 million adults have a social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety symptoms usually start around the age of 13. Social anxiety has psychological symptoms and physical symptoms.

Physical Symptoms:

  • blushing
  • rapid heart beat
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • trembling & shaking
  • dizziness

Psychological Symptoms:

  • worrying intensely about social situations
  • avoiding social situations or trying to blend into the background if you must attend
  • worrying for days or weeks before an event
  • needing alcohol to face a social situation
  • worrying about embarrassing yourself in a social situation
  • missing work or school because of anxiety

My Personal Experience

A women taking a selfie
2019, starting at a new store with people I didn’t know and friendships were collapsing at the same time.

I knew that I had anxiety, especially in college. I would have anxiety attacks from numerous situations that happened through the course of my college years. In a podcast episode, I finally said out loud that I suffer from social anxiety. That’s when I said to myself, “you don’t like large settings”. I am the person who will show up late on purpose. So, I have less time around a large crowd. I have mini attacks when I arrive at the airport two hours ahead of my flight. So I arrive about 30-45 minutes before my flight because I don’t want to wait around at the airport. I get nervous that something is going to happen within the large crowd and large space. My social anxiety comes from not being able to be in control.

I get extremely nervous that people are staring at me. Or something bad is going to happen at an event. It’s extremely crazy that I have social anxiety when I am a blogger. My life revolves around traveling and events. I mentally have to prepare myself for these things, days ahead. Sometimes I hope that event gets canceled or I can back out. I am not sure if it’s because I’m an only child and an introvert. Therapy has helped a lot over these past two years in dealing with my anxiety. Being able to speak on what and why these social settings make me anxious. It has helped me overcome some anxiety attacks or prepare for large settings in a better way.

Decompress

Social anxiety will continue to be a mental illness that I’ll have to overcome. I take it one day at a time. I allow myself to recharge and reset in between large settings. If you suffer from social anxiety; I recommend taking at least a couple of days in between large settings to be by yourself. Here are some coping mechanisms that can help with your anxiety.

  • Realize anxiety is natural
  • Breathe
  • Shift your focus

If you have different methods that help you relieve your anxiety. Please share with us in the comments below!

Social Anxiety Self-Assessment Test

Take this social anxiety self-assessment test to see if you have low, moderate, or high social anxiety. I took this assessment and as a result, I got moderate-high social anxiety. Which is pretty accurate for me! Especially if it’s an unfamiliar setting and around new people.

In Conclusion, remember that you are okay and it’s normal. Have supportive family and friends around you. If you feel that you’re having an anxiety attack try to get some are and breathe. If the situation is making you feel uncomfortable; don’t be afraid to leave.

On Key

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