Having anxiety about social situations is far more wide-spread than you might think. Around one in ten people in the UK will have social anxiety at some point in their lives. It is so common that it has its own medical classification – it is known to doctors as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), or sometimes, Social Phobia.
Social anxiety is a problem when someone has anxiety or fear in social situations – meeting people, being in a workplace, going to a supermarket when it is busy … any situation where there are a lot of people around can trigger social anxiety. It is diagnosed more often in women than in men, and often starts in the teenage years.
How do I know if I have social anxiety?
When in a social situation, someone with social anxiety may suffer some of these symptoms:
- A feeling of anxiety or fear – for no apparent reason
- Thinking that other people may be judging them
- Sweating, blushing or trembling
- Feeling embarrassed
- Being self-conscious
- Difficulty speaking clearly – both hesitant and unable to find the right words to say
- Having a feeling of not being good enough compared to everyone around them
- Finding it difficult to maintain eye contact
- Physical changes such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, or fast breathing
People with social anxiety disorder may change their lifestyle in order to avoid social situations, being happier on their own or with small groups of close friends.
What causes social anxiety?
The exact cause of social anxiety will vary from individual to individual. It tends to run in families, so there may be genetic factors involved. Some people may have had a bad experience in a social situation in the past which their brain has not processed fully; they may think of themselves as lacking importance, or not as good as everyone else in the group; or they may simply have a super-shy personality.
The cause of an individual’s social anxiety is not really very important in dealing with the issue. The cause may be interesting, but it does not help in sorting it all out.
How can hypnotherapy help with social anxiety?
As with all anxiety-related problems, it’s only a problem if it’s a problem. If a person is content with their life as it is, there is no need to do anything about it. However, if social anxiety prevents them from living how they want to live, then hypnotherapy can help.
Hypnotherapy allows an individual to change those automatic feelings of fear, anxiety and generally being uncomfortable in social situations. It can also help by improving self-esteem, a factor which is sometimes associated with social anxiety. Hypnotherapy can help individuals be fully comfortable and in control of their feelings in a social situation.
NHS advice on social anxiety
Royal College of Psychiatrists description of social phobia
Hypnotherapy for social anxiety
Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash