Bestselling Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction in 2020
ESCAPE THE LIE: A Guide to Spiritual Transformation (The Truth Hunters Book 1)
Future Home of the Living God: A Novel
Shadow Corps: A Space Fantasy Adventure
Mushrooms (Insanity Book 8)
November Fox - Book 0. Law of Attraction: A Metaphysical Visionary Fable
The Tower (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper Book 9)
- Berkley Publishing Group
The Snow Child: A Novel
Mystic Warrior: A Novel Beyond Time and Space (Spiritual Fiction - Visionary Thriller - Metaphysical Novel)
The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure
- Life Changing
- Self Enlightenment
Queen of Wands (The Tree of Ages Series Book 4)
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven
The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner, Book 1)
12 Tips for Social Anxiety Sufferers
Social paranoia is commonly, but incorrectly, used to describe social phobia or social anxiety disorder. The disorder is characterized by feelings of overwhelming fear, anxiety, and excessive self-consciousness in social situations. The author shares some tips to help.
First, as mentioned previously, the very term social paranoia is actually a misnomer. Social paranoia may mistakenly be used to describe social phobia or social anxiety disorder. Paranoia is the medical term for delusions that cause an affected individual to believe they are being persecuted. Paranoia is not an illness in itself, but a symptom present in several serious psychotic illnesses.
Again, social phobia is not a psychotic illness, but an anxiety disorder. The disorder is marked by feelings of overwhelming fear, anxiety, and excessive self-consciousness in social situations. Social phobia is also commonly referred to as social anxiety disorder. While just about everyone feels anxious from time to time, people with social phobia or social anxiety disorder often feel this way almost all of the time.
Social phobia sufferers are driven by overwhelming fear and worry, making it hard to perform everyday tasks in front of other people. Social phobia sufferers often fret and worry about upcoming social situations for days, maybe even weeks before the social situation actually happens. People with social phobia or social anxiety disorder have an intense persistent and chronic fear of being watched and publicly embarrassed or humiliated. This may contribute to the misperception by others that the person is suffering from "social paranoia."
According to the National Institute of Mental Health's website at , anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans each year and about 15 million American adults are affected by social phobia or social anxiety disorder. Most people with social phobia know they shouldn't be as anxious and fearful as they are, they just can't control their fear. To compensate, social phobia sufferers often avoid places or situations they feel will embarrass them. This frequently keeps the social phobia sufferer from performing everyday tasks or enjoying social situations with family and friends.
Most of us probably know someone with an irrational fear, one that produces extreme anxiety. Some common specific phobias include fear of flying, fear of spiders, and fear of heights. The list of phobias is quite lengthy; and each of these "phobias," or fears, causes extreme anxiety. In the case of social phobia, symptoms of more milder forms may be limited to only one particular type of situation--such as a fear of public speaking or fear of eating in front of others.
In more extreme cases of social phobia, the sufferer experiences symptoms almost any time they are around other people, forcing some social phobia sufferers to even become housebound. Social phobia can lower self-esteem and increase the sufferer's risk of depression and suicide.
Children can develop social phobia, too. While social phobia typically begins around 13 years of age, it can start even earlier. In my own case, I experienced the first symptoms of social phobia while still in the first grade. Because I tried so hard to hide my internal social anxiety from others, it went largely unrecognized until later in adolescence when my symptoms escalated.
I was only six years old when I had my first panic attack at school. It was winter and I had walked several blocks, wading through deep freshly falling snow, to get to school. I was accompanied by our family's hound dog "Old Joe" who faithfully walked me to school every morning. Upon arrival on that particular day, the halls were unusually dark and quiet and I couldn't find my teacher or any of my classmates. The tardy bell rang and I was the only one in my classroom. A high school student came along and told me I had to go to the study hall.
There were five or six other students of varying ages sitting inside when I arrived. I remember one big kid standing behind the teacher's desk at the front telling me, with some authority, to sit down. A janitor stopped in briefly to say school was closed due to snow, all buses had been canceled, and we were advised to wait until our parents came to pick us up. I wanted to walk home but two older kids wouldn't let me leave, telling me I had to wait for my parents.
We didn't have a home phone and I had no way to notify my parents school was canceled. I was literally paralyzed by fear and embarrassment, unable to speak. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I felt trapped inside, both literally and figuratively, too terrified by my own anxiety to even talk to the other kids or voice my concerns. My pulse was racing and I felt strangled by a large lump in my throat. My palms were sweaty and I felt dizzy and faint. I just knew my heart would beat out of my chest if I didn't get home.
Luckily, my father heard school had been canceled and came to pick me up about an hour later. To me, it felt an eternity had passed. I remember burying my face in my dad's denim pant legs trying to escape my own humiliation and embarrassment, tightly wrapping my arms around his leg, hugging it in relief.
He asked if I'd like to go to the gas station with him and get a bottle of soda pop--a special treat for me. I remember finally being able to speak. Muffled into his pant leg I heard myself exclaim, "No, no, I just want to go home, please, please just take me home!" As much as I loved an ice cold Orange Crush or Nehi Grape soda pop, I felt like I'd die if I didn't escape. I had to get home!
While any child might have experienced a normal amount of anxiety in a similarly unfamiliar situation, what terrified me the most wasn't the situation itself, but my own uncontrollable anxiety to it. As an adult looking back, I recognize this was the first of many incidents that helped shape future fearful reactions to social situations. In every instance, my own fear of public humiliation from some perceived inadequacy triggered my anxiety symptoms of social phobia. I was crippled by an ongoing fear of any situation I felt might potentially cause some undefined unforgivable public humiliation exposing and destroying my fragile perception of self worth.
My anxiety symptoms controlled my behavior and consequent avoidance of many social situations for years. Somehow, I survived school and even managed to attend college, carrying a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in my purse every day to nursing school; the constant anxiety causing me to be physically ill on a daily basis.
I consider myself lucky. Many social phobia suffers turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate their symptoms making treatment more difficult. I was in my mid-twenties when I finally sought professional help to deal with childhood issues, the depression, fear and severe anxiety symptoms associated with my social phobia.
Often other anxiety disorders accompany social phobia. I was later diagnosed with adult ADHD which explained a lot of the problems I had growing up and in school. I also had a severe fear of heights, but for years never considered it "irrational" as I had fallen out of a second story window at age two. I can proudly say one of my most enjoyable days was finally being able to enjoy a beautiful mountain top gondola ride with my husband and not "freeze" with severe panic.
Social phobia sometimes runs in families, but no one really knows for sure why some people get it, and others don't. My own mother suffered with anxiety and depression and was treated with medication for years. Scientists now realize that many mental disorders are actually caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. That's why medications can often help control social phobia symptoms by keeping brain chemicals at correct levels.
Social phobia can last for years, or even an entire lifetime, if left untreated. There is no cure for social phobia, but there are effective treatments including medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Medical brain research has led to new discoveries that are influencing newer drugs and treatments for social phobia. If you believe you might be suffering from social phobia, you might find the following tips helpful:
Tip #1--The first step in getting help is often the hardest--being willing to admit you have a problem with social phobia or social anxiety. While I knew I had a problem, the very thought of talking about it to a doctor only produced more anxiety and fear of embarrassment and humiliation. If necessary, ask a friend or close family member you trust to go along with you for emotional support.
Tip#2-- I found keeping a daily diary, documenting my anxiety symptoms and what made symptoms better or worse to be helpful. To be diagnosed with social phobia you need to have suffered from social anxiety symptoms for over six months. Documentation makes it easier to share your fears with your doctor. It also helps you recognize repeated patterns in your behavior and symptoms and is very helpful in the therapeutic process.
Tip #3--If your doctor prescribes medication to treat your social phobia, it is important to take it as prescribed and not stop taking it abruptly. Many medications may take a few weeks to start working. Also, abruptly stopping some medications can cause serious side effects.
Tip #4--Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy, with or without drug therapy. Licensed mental health professionals trained in cognitive-behavioral therapies can often help people with social phobia feel less anxious and fearful using exposure therapy to gradually introduce patients to feared situations and help them become more comfortable in them.
Tip #5--I found forcing myself to relax, take deep cleansing breaths and using targeted mental exercises really helped me refocus my fears. No, this didn't eliminate my anxiety, but it made it much more manageable. Others may find using yoga or aerobic exercise helps to reduce their anxiety and fear. Exercise releases endorphins which are brain chemicals. Today, anxiety management training is often a part of cognitive-behavior therapy used to treat social phobia and includes teaching techniques like deep breathing to control anxiety.
Tip #6--The more you are able face your fear and talk about it --the less power it will have over your life. Joining a local support therapy group with other social phobia sufferers gives you the opportunity to share and support one another. Joining family or couples therapy can he useful in educating your family about your disorder and providing you with added family support.
Tip #7--Prepare for known anxiety producing situations by practicing beforehand what you plan to say and do. Whenever the event finally happens you are less fearful and anxious. This is extremely helpful for things like meeting new people, going for an interview, speaking publicly, etc.
Tip #8--Remember a little social nervousness is natural, but crippling anxiety isn't. As crazy as it may sound, I would repeat over and over to myself, "I have nothing to fear, but fear itself." Constantly mentally reminding myself of that helped reduce my anxiety and take away some of the crippling power fear had over me.
Tip #9--Try consciously focusing on others, and remaining calm in social situations. Just concentrating on paying closer attention to social cues from others and conscious focused listening helps take a little of the focus off the internal fear in your own gut.
Tip #10--Try to identify your misguided judgments and then develop more realistic expectations of the true dangers in social situations. After all, how many people do you know that have literally died from embarrassment?
Tip #11--If there are no local support groups in your area (or even if there are) consider joining an on-line support group for social phobia or social anxiety sufferers. Sharing your experiences and learning useful coping strategies from others in similar situations can be very therapeutic.
Tip #12--And finally, if you believe you or someone you know might be suffering from social phobia or other anxiety disorder, you don't have to suffer alone. Take that first step; recognize you have a treatable medical condition and seek help. You really are not alone; remember those 15 million others. Sharing your story is not only cathartic, but may help someone else suffering in silence not to feel so alone.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Additional information for social phobia and other anxiety and mental disorders can be found here:
The National Mental Health Association's website
The National Institute of Mental Health website at