Being an introvert and enjoying alone time is perfectly fine. But if you purposefully avoid people because contact with them causes you anxious feelings, it could be social phobia (also called social anxiety).
Don’t let the phobia of people tie you down and cut you off from social life. Human contact is important for our mental health, and you too can enjoy the presence of people. We look at how to know if social phobia really affects you and how to get rid of it.
Up to 13% of us suffer from some form of social phobia. But this only includes those who sought help and could thus be diagnosed. You are really not alone in this and maybe people around you are hiding similar unpleasant feelings.
A hallmark of social phobia is the fear of any activity in which someone might watch or critically evaluate you. Fear that you won’t be able to do it, that you will look stupid, that people around you will notice your insecurity and judge you, make fun of you or slander you. Any interaction with other people (especially strangers) causes you stress. You don’t know how to behave, what to say. You feel that whatever you do is wrong. And so you prefer to avoid people, even though you feel lonely.
But it’s not easy at all, because you still need to go to work, shop, take care of things. You probably don’t even want to turn down invitations from your loved ones, but the thought of a summer barbecue or a birthday party with a bunch of people makes you uneasy. The summer period of all gatherings brings you stress instead of joy.
With severe social phobia, even ordinary activities such as:
Is social phobia really your issue, or is it more just stage fright and your introverted nature? These are the main signs by which you can recognize her.
On a psychological level, social phobia manifests itself:
But it is also accompanied by physical signs:
The main difference compared to other diagnoses is that you need social contact. But it causes you so much stress that it is easier for you to avoid it.
The causes of social phobia are not clearly defined. The disposition to increased tension and anxiety can also be innate. As well as greater vulnerability. You probably experienced certain signs already in your teenage years.
Experts say that bullying, exclusion from a group in childhood, strict upbringing, family problems, sexual abuse and various traumas can play a role in the development of social phobia. A generally low self-esteem also helps her.
You may have lived with social phobia until now, believing that it was just severe stage fright. Or it was really bothering you, but you couldn’t face your fear.
The most important thing is the fact that you are here and you have decided to go towards your mental well-being. Unaddressed social phobia can lead to even more serious problems, such as depression or addiction. Isolation from the environment is never a solution. According to a long-term Harvard study, friendship is even a key factor in feeling happy. The great news is that you can even get rid of social phobia completely if you go about it the right way.
It is not at all easy to manage social phobia without the help of a specialist. That’s why it’s ideal to have the support of a therapist along the way. It will help you process anxious thoughts and begin to gradually manage social interactions and relationships with greater ease.
A cognitive-behavioral therapy method is ideal for the treatment of social phobia, where under the guidance of a therapist you will gradually expose yourself to artificial and real social situations, solve them together and learn how to deal with them. Slowly, at your own pace.
Fear will need to be faced and processed. However, with the support of an expert, you will definitely be able to do it, and the release from the cycle of suffering will definitely be worth it.
At Hedepy, we offer therapy online, you just need to connect from the safety of your home. We know that talking to a stranger is scary. That’s why you can get to know our therapists at least a little first thanks to detailed profiles with video medallions. They are all vetted experts who will never judge you. It’s their chosen job – to help people like you.
We will make it easier for you to choose the right therapist with a short test, based on which we will recommend the three most suitable ones.
If social anxiety bothers you so much that it limits your daily life – it makes it impossible for you to work, travel by public transport, do regular shopping, etc. – your doctor (psychiatrist) can also prescribe medication, most often antidepressants.
But if you feel up to dealing with social anxiety without medication, we recommend starting with therapy. Read how the first therapy session works.
Social contact is very important for our mental health, don’t delay the first step and allow yourself to breathe in peace again. Relief can come after the first therapy.
Finally, we would like to tell you the last and most important thing. It is completely natural to experience a wave of emotions in a difficult situation. Every crisis has its beginning, but it also has its end. Yours too. Therefore, if you are at least considering it even a tiny bit, ask for the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or coach. Don’t face it alone; you can find help – At Hedepy.cz, there are more than 30 therapists. You can choose someone who is best suited to your needs, and make an appointment for the next day. You can then connect with the therapist online, from the comfort of your own home.
Žaneta Krčilová, Co-founder of Hedepy