Column: Living With Social Anxiety


Anxiety is probably the one mental illness people have a decent understanding of because it is so common. There might’ve been a small tingle in your stomach, like butterflies flying around. Or maybe, your chest gets really tight, making it harder to breathe.

There is a certain type of anxiety I want to focus on, social anxiety. Every day social interactions can cause people’s anxiety to spike. They fear the judgment of others. To avoid embarrassment in social settings, they will do everything possible to not be in those situations. When they’re unable to avoid uncomfortable social interactions, their stress levels skyrocket. 

For teens, the judgment of their peers might be too much on top of their schoolwork, jobs, clubs, and home environment. I, and many others, can relate to this issue. 


How social anxiety affects lives:

For most people without social anxiety, presentations are pretty easy. Same with social events, they don’t get too nervous. They deal with it normally.

On the other hand, there are people suffering from social phobia who aren’t able to do the simplest of social interactions. A small presentation can cause someone to go into a state of pure panic. The stress may be too much for someone.  

This really holds me back. I’ve skipped out on so many events because of my anxiety. It has stopped me from achieving greater things. It has also made my grades suffer greatly. Participation impacts your grade a lot, which is the part I struggle with. I’ve failed so many assignments because there was a public speaking part that I was too afraid to do. Teachers don’t seem to understand, I don’t blame them. 


Selective Mutism:

The results of social anxiety can also cause people to develop selective mutism. According to the Selective Mutism Center, more than 90% of people with selective mutism suffer from a social phobia. It mostly affects younger people, stopping their speech when they’re uncomfortable. Selective Mutism is a way for some to manifest their anxiety. 

I have selective mutism, but many people just see it as being shy. 

For as long as I can remember, I have had trouble in social settings. When I’m being introduced to something new, I panic. On my first day of kindergarten, I was bawling my eyes out. You could say that most kids do this, and that is true, but I never got better. It became a tradition I would carry out every day.  It was something new, a change I didn’t ask for. I didn’t want to be away from my home, my comfort.  


How social anxiety is created:

The Mayo Clinic says the two most common ways of developing social anxiety can be from families and events.

Inherited: Social anxiety can run in the family, from genetics and learned behavior.

Events: Social phobia can be created from bad social experiences that traumatized the person. It’s their attempt at protecting themselves from situations like that.


Dealing with social anxiety:

There is no way of actually preventing social anxiety, but there are ways of coping with it. 

When getting help, don’t wait. It will be harder to treat if you wait. If you are struggling with some type of social phobia go speak to a doctor. 

  • Psychotherapy will help you develop coping skills and gain confidence in social situations. It can help you rewire your brain, in a sense, to think more positively about social interactions. It addresses your behavior


  • Medication is another way people treat social anxiety. They may do this and psychotherapy. The common types of medication are:

Beta-Blockers: Mostly prescribe to patients with heart disease, but can also help people with control symptoms of anxiety. It can help decrease sweating, rapid heartbeat, and somewhat calm you down.

SSRIs and venlafaxine changes how the critical brain circuits function, resulting in a decrease of anxiety symptoms, as well as depression. It helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite.

Don’t give up on the treatment. It will take time, but what it will do for you. The positive results of the process will only benefit you. 

Categories: Opinion

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