Dealing with Anxiety in Social Settings

When it comes down to it, people are sometimes difficult to deal with. Whether it’s bullying, ridiculing, judgmental looks, physical abuse, verbal confrontations, or the fear of something going wrong, people are afraid of social situations for a number of different reasons. When diagnosed, this fear is known as social anxiety disorder and can lead to anxiety panic attacks.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Did you know anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States? With more than 40 million adults suffering at the hands of anxiety, it is a serious issue. Billions of dollars are spent each year treating anxiety, and people are continually being diagnosed. One of the most common subtypes is known as social anxiety disorder and may affect as many as 15 million Americans.

From a clinical point of view, social anxiety is labeled as the fear of social situations that require personal interaction. In serious cases, this fear can lead to intense anxiety attacks. Commonly misunderstood, those with social anxiety don’t always want to be quiet, shy, and withdrawn. Many want to make friends and be socially included, but their disorder holds them back.

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Triggering Events

While social anxiety can be difficult to deal with, it is not insurmountable. For those suffering from a fear of social situations, it is important to understand the trigger symptoms and how to overcome them. Common trigger symptoms include being the center of attention, meeting new people, being criticized or teased, having to speak in public, being watched or observed, making eye contact, or the simple fear of any of these things happening.

When these events do trigger high levels of anxiety, people often report nervousness, high blood pressure, excessive sweating, dry mouth, muscle twitches, trembling and shaking, and faintness.

Tips for Dealing with Social Gatherings

Regardless of how much you try to hide, social situations will eventually arise. For most people, social situations are a part of daily life. Here are some tips for dealing with social gatherings and preventing anxiety panic attacks:

  • Understand Your Triggers. Everything starts from an accurate understanding of what sets you off. This allows you to avoid certain things and conquer irrational fears.
  • Be Prepared. If you know you’ll be in a social situation where you may have to interact with other people in an unstructured environment, it can be helpful to have conversation starters at your disposal. This will eliminate uncomfortable silence and ease the stress of conversation.
  • Do Things You Like. When you participate in social activities you enjoy and are good at, your confidence automatically increases. This allows you to interact with people who have similar interests and usually means you have easy and comfortable talking points.
  • Take Breathers. Many times, anxiety panic attacks arise when an individual is forced to be in social situations for extended periods of time. If this is ever the case, don’t hesitate to take breaks. Whether it’s walking around the block, heading to the bathroom, or tuning things out momentarily, a break can go a long way.

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Bridges to Recovery

For more information on how to cope with anxiety in social gatherings or for treatment options, please contact Bridges to Recovery.