If you’ve ever found yourself surrounded by people, feeling stressed and uneasy, you’ll know that it isn’t always a pleasant experience. At one point or another, almost every one of us has experienced difficulty talking to people, nervousness, and even the feeling that our mind has gone completely blank. We call this social anxiety.
Social anxiety can affect everybody at some point in their lives, usually during the teenage years while we’re still figuring things out. It’s completely normal. But while most people are able to eventually overcome their feelings of anxiousness and stress around others – especially in larger groups or among strangers – some people continue to suffer from these feelings well into adulthood and beyond. Eventually, we realise that this social anxiety is affecting our lives in a big way. This we call social anxiety disorder.
In this blog, we look at social anxiety disorder and how hypnotherapy can be used as an effective tool for helping us to deal with this debilitating challenge.
Social anxiety – also sometimes referred to as social phobia – is a disorder experienced by people who feel a sense of fear around others. Ranging from mild feelings of discomfort to extreme panic and even physical symptoms, social anxiety can have a knock-on effect on people’s lives, affecting their friendships, family interactions, and work.
Social anxiety can often be mistaken for other mental health challenges and issues, leaving people feeling helpless and confused. Those who find meeting new people, talking to people, and attending social gatherings stressful and difficult can be said to suffer from social anxiety. These people often dread the thought of being judged or scrutinised by others, obsessing over how other people view them.
In Australia, around 3% of people are living with varying degrees of social anxiety at any moment, with around 11% of people having experienced it at one point or another during their lives. While that’s generally lower than many other countries, it’s still over three-quarters of a million people in Australia alone. This disorder can affect almost anyone and can present suddenly at any point in life or have been a part of that person’s experience since childhood.
While reported levels of social anxiety tend to decrease with age, this is due mainly to the fact that people have learned to live with the disorder or have discovered treatments – like hypnotherapy that work.
The origins of social anxiety disorders are still being explored. However, they tend to run in families, passed on from generation to generation through genetics or learned behaviour. The part of the brain responsible for emotions like anger, sadness, and – importantly – fear is called the amygdala. It is believed that the stress caused by social anxiety originates here, especially among people with an overactive amygdala. Sometimes, external stimuli may trigger social fears, where people witness or experience traumatic or embarrassing events involving strangers or groups.
Social anxiety can present in many ways, some harder to spot than others. Here are some of the most common symptoms experienced by people suffering from social anxiety.
• Physical Symptoms – like a fast heartbeat, blushing, muscle cramps, shaking, trembling, sweating, laboured breathing, and even nausea or vomiting.
• Emotional Symptoms – fear that others may notice your discomfort, fear that you will embarrass yourself, fear that people are watching and scrutinising you and concern that you’ll be seen as weak or ‘weird’.
Individually, these symptoms are manageable, but with social anxiety disorder, they can present all at once, overwhelming the sufferer to a point where the condition affects most parts of their life and almost every social situation.
• Inability to interact with unfamiliar colleagues or strangers
• Avoiding attending parties or social gatherings
• Not going to work or school
• Difficulty in starting a conversation
• Trouble finding a partner (dating)
• Conflict with family members
At a high level, social anxiety disorder can have massive consequences on people’s day-to-day lives. From an acute inability to work well with others in the workplace to high levels of family bullying and intense feelings of loneliness, a social anxiety disorder can be incredibly damaging.
Over the years, many treatments have been touted as effective for social anxiety disorder. Treatment options may include anxiety medications and intense psychotherapy. However, more recently, people are discovering more holistic approaches like anxiety management techniques, social skills training, and hypnotherapy. In truth, each case is different and requires a unique perspective and trained understanding of how social anxiety sufferers experience their own challenges. For this, we recommend you consider turning to hypnotherapy.
Aside from the myriad other benefits of hypnotherapy, social anxiety disorder is among the most frequently and successfully managed conditions of the age-old practice. More often than not, clients are desperate for help, having already tried medication and psychotherapy.
Social anxiety disorder originates in the mind, and it is here where hypnotherapy can gain the access to the mind that clients need to overcome the debilitating effects of this difficult condition.
At Hypnocare, therapists are trained to create an environment of safety, trust and calm before gently exploring the root causes and issues that trigger and compound social anxiety. Through carefully curated breathing exercises, affirmations, and fear-busting techniques, hypnotherapy is an effective tool for addressing the most adverse elements of social anxiety.
Discover confidence in every social situation, no matter how big or small, formal or informal, strangers or family. At Hypnocare, we are here to help you overcome your social anxiety. We’re happy to answer any questions or address any of your concerns before committing to a session.
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