Social Anxiety

The facts:

  • Social anxiety is a mental health condition in which social situations cause excessive fear of judgment or embarrassment
  • 1 in 10 people experience social anxiety in their lifetime
  • Social anxiety disorder is treatable
  • Treatments include evidence-based psychological treatments like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • The highly trained and experienced therapists at Seed Psychology can help you

What is social anxiety?

Most people feel nervous or uncomfortable in some social situations. Attending a party full of unfamiliar faces, giving a speech at a wedding or starting a new job will make almost anyone feel slightly nervous and self-conscious.

For people with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), almost any interaction can be a scary prospect. Social anxiety – also known as social phobia – is a mental health condition in which social situations cause excessive fear of judgment or embarrassment. People with social anxiety often avoid social interactions, or feel that they must be endured, rather than enjoyed. Around one in ten people will experience social anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

People with social anxiety will often have distressing and unhelpful thoughts, such as:

  • “If I say the wrong thing everyone will laugh at me”
  • “People think I’m a loser”
  • “I’ll make a fool of myself and people will judge me”

These thoughts can trigger anxiety, which you may feel in your body as an increase in heart rate, sweating, trembling, muscle tension and shortness of breath. These feelings are uncomfortable and can start to feel overwhelming.

Social anxiety becomes an issue when it negatively impacts our ability to go about daily life. People who experience social anxiety often avoid situations that trigger their anxiety. Unfortunately, this avoidance actually maintains the anxiety and creates a vicious cycle. This prevents opportunities to have positive social experiences and challenge triggering thoughts. Avoiding social situations can also have other unintended effects including depression, isolation, paranoia and trouble coping with stress.

How Seed Psychology can help you

Social anxiety disorder is treatable. Reaching out and seeking help from a mental health professional is an important first step toward overcoming social anxiety.

Research has shown that evidence-based psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are the most effective treatment for Social Anxiety. CBT can help treat the underlying cause of Social Anxiety Disorder, rather than just the symptoms.

CBT involves sketching out a description or “formulation” of your unique situation. Everyone is different, so it’s important to understand exactly how your anxiety is playing out. Once we have established a shared understanding of the issue, we can start designing activities that will challenge the unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that maintain anxiety.

CBT helps us restructure our thoughts and responses to social anxiety. For example, if you don’t look at other people because you fear that they are looking at you in judgement, then you don’t really know if they are looking at you at all. When we avoid testing our beliefs in the real world, we reinforce them and make them stronger. In order to change our unhelpful beliefs, it is important to challenge them with real world experiences.

Together we will design some tools and activities for you to try out between sessions. We can also work on relaxation and other coping strategies to assist you through this process. Techniques such as slow breathing, muscle relaxation and meditation can help relieve anxiety. Besides CBT, other forms of therapy – including exposure therapy and fear extinction – can be helpful for some. In more severe cases, medication may be necessary.

It can be difficult to reach out and seek help for social anxiety. At Seed Psychology, our psychologists are highly trained and experienced at working with people with social anxiety.

Psychological treatment can help you feel more at ease, confident and present in social situations.

Contact us now to book an appointment.