Several of our Therapists that are seeing clients in person have now been vaccinated. In addition to offering in person appointments we are also seeing clients for online sessions via video call.
by Dr. Becky Spelman on 11/08/2014

About social anxiety

Social Anxiety, which is sometimes known as Social Phobia, is a common Anxiety Disorder that can have a significant impact on quality of life as it causes a great deal of distress for a sufferer within a social situation. With that said, most individuals have at some point experienced social anxiety (e.g. during public speaking) and therefore it is a normal experience. However, social anxiety becomes a problem when your ability to enjoy life and function everyday is impaired. Sufferers of social anxiety tend to avoid social situations where interaction with others is inevitable. This is because sufferers tend to get overwhelmingly anxious, excessively self-conscious and even in a state of panic in everyday social situations; which bring on feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, therefore leading to avoidance in the future. Social anxiety is characterised by an irrational thinking pattern, which leads the sufferer to be irrationally anxious in social circumstances, which feels elevated when alone.

The impact of social anxiety

If you suffer from social anxiety, you may experience huge stress around even very ordinary social interactions in your daily life. Meeting new people, or feeling that they are being “inspected” by others, can all be enormously worrying. You may feel a sense of panic around the idea that you are not making a good impression, or feel as though you are the centre of attention with “all eyes on you”. Experiencing emotions of shame and embarrassment, you may run and hide from social situations that, deep down, you would really like to be able to enjoy. You might even experience physical symptoms, including an increased heart rate, nausea, breathlessness and tension. Perhaps you worry that you will flush, blush or stammer, and draw attention to yourself. It may have become increasingly difficult for you to speak in public, express your opinion to a group of friends or colleagues, or even eat and socialise with friends.

Often, people with social anxiety try to deal with it by avoiding social engagements that they think they may find difficult. In the process, they may find that they are retreating into an ever-smaller world. Instead of helping with the situation, their anxiety can become more acute, and can even lead to problems with alcohol, dependance on medication and depression. Does any of this sound like you?

Causes of Social Anxiety

There are many causes for social anxiety. Research has indicated that social anxiety maybe more prevalent amongst children who experience an upbringing where parents constantly criticise, exaggerate the danger of approaching strangers, are emotionally unavailable, overemphasis the importance of manners/grooming or parents who are overprotective. Social anxiety may also occur amongst children or adolescents who have experienced verbal abuse such as bullying, teasing, frequent criticism, rejection, humiliation, physical abuse, racial abuse/discrimination, sexual abuse/discrimination and age discrimination. Many individuals who experience social anxiety may do so because of the lack of experience within social situations (e.g. a lack of friends). Although social anxiety can be difficult and in severe cases take over one’s life, there are some tips that can help one living with this issue.

Is There Treatment for Social Anxiety

The good news is that social anxiety is eminently treatable. The first step in Social Anxiety Treatment lies in recognising that there is a problem, and that it is time to reach out for help. Understanding that your responses to social situations are often irrational and excessive can be hard, but it is an important step on the journey to wholeness. By working with a psychotherapist, sufferers of social anxiety can learn about the triggers that lead to their difficult emotions and behaviours. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to learn how to start replacing those difficult emotions and behaviours with more positive ones. Over time, it may be possible to understand the origins of the anxiety, and to deal with its deeper causes. Here is a range of videos mades by our practitioners at Private Therapy Clinic to help you overcome your difficulties.

Tips for social anxiety

Although Social anxiety can be difficult and in severe cases take over one’s life, there are some tips that can help one living with this issue.

1.) Relaxation – During a state of panic, it is difficult to think straight. Therefore, keeping calm by breathing in and out will bring the body out from the “fight or flight response” mode. Muscle relaxation is great for calming the body down and loosening any tense muscles during a state of panic or anxiety. Clearing your mind will quickly get oneself out of a confusing state of frenzy.

2.) Confront the situation – Exposure work by visiting the place where you felt panicky or apprehensive and staying there until your anxiety going down can be helpful in overcoming the fear linked to a specific social environment.

3.) Focusing outward – When we are anxious in social situations we pay attention to our thoughts about other people judging us negatively and any unpleasant physical sensations we might be experiencing, this feeds into the negative maintenance cycle of social anxiety. By redirecting our focus outwards on to others we stop noticing these alarming symptoms as much and as a result anxiety goes down. Try focusing more on what people are saying, the tone of their voice, their eye colour, their facial expressions in social situations.

4.) Self-Help material – Discovering how to manage Social anxiety on a day-to-day basis would give you more confidence to deal with a social anxiety panic when it occurs. You can access guided self-help videos by our practitioners below to help you overcome your social anxiety.

5.) Sessions with a Therapist – Seeing a therapist would be extremely beneficial for a social anxiety sufferer. During therapy, treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Psychodynamic treatment can help your achieve your goal of overcoming this condition.

Social Anxiety CBT Treatment videos

Our practitioners have made a whole range of CBT treatment videos for social anxiety with tips and skills for you to practice to overcome your difficult. You will find some of these videos above with more being published every week. These are some of the tools you will learn when you come to see one of our practitioners at Private Therapy Clinic.

How can I get Social Anxiety Treatment in London

If you would like to talk to someone about social anxiety, please get in touch with us at Private Therapy Clinic, we are based in London but offer therapy worldwide over Skype. You can reach us by telephone at +4402038820684 or book online.