Of all the different types of anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder may be one of the most misunderstood. In many cases, people shrug it off as being shy or naturally introverted.
Most people don’t know that social anxiety is different from shyness. This disorder is an intense and persistent mental health condition that affects your life and seldom improves without treatment.
Our team at MindSet TMS has helped many people overcome their social anxiety by creating holistic treatment plans. Options such as psychotherapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are effective for people of all ages.
Let’s talk more about what defines social anxiety and when you should seek treatment.
Daily impact of social anxiety disorder
Imagine that your child spends every day in school scared that that the teacher might call on them or fearful of recess or lunchtime.
Maybe you’re so anxious about meeting new people that you put off searching for a new job or going out on a date. Or you may feel comfortable socializing with close friends but feel panic when faced with giving a presentation at work or a report at school
In all these circumstances, there’s a distinct difference between social anxiety and shyness.
A shy child may have a hard time answering when the teacher calls on them. By comparison, children with social anxiety may spend every minute they’re in school in utter fear of when that moment might come.
Most people feel anxious over a first date, but they go. A person with social anxiety disorder either won’t commit or they cancel the date.
A lot of people feel nervous before giving a presentation. But those with social anxiety disorder may have disabling anxiety with physical symptoms for weeks before their presentation.
Definition of social anxiety disorder
The medical definition of social anxiety disorder — the basis upon which mental health professionals diagnose the condition — says that people with this disorder:
- Feel fear or anxiety in most social situations
- Avoid most social situations or endure them with intense fear and anxiety
- Fear they will show their anxiety or act in a way that’s humiliating or makes others reject them
- Feel intense fear or anxiety about social situations that expose them to the scrutiny of others
- Experience fear or anxiety that’s out of proportion to the threat posed by the social situation
- Have fear, anxiety, or avoidance that causes significant distress
- Have fear, anxiety, or avoidance that affects their ability to function
- Have fear, anxiety, or avoidance that persists for six months or longer
You can also have social anxiety disorder if your fear is limited to those times when you must speak or perform in front of others.
When to seek help for social anxiety
Without treatment, social anxiety disorder leads to long-lasting consequences that negatively affect your life.
Social anxiety disorder is associated with dropping out of school, a high rate of unemployment, and staying away from activities you would enjoy. In many cases, people with social anxiety disorder lead an isolated life without friends.
Lack of friends, unemployment, and dropping out are all signs that it’s time to seek help. But it’s better to step up and get help before you reach such extremes.
The first step is realizing that social anxiety disorder is a well-recognized mental health condition that originates from changes in your brain.
Then you should honestly evaluate your levels of fear, as well as the extent to which you avoid situations due to anxiety. Anxiety that’s severe enough to interfere with your daily life is a good sign that it’s time to consider getting help.
If you’re not sure whether you might benefit from treatment, just schedule time to talk with us. We can evaluate the extent of your anxiety, determine if you have social anxiety disorder, and then talk with you about a customized plan to help.
Treatment for social anxiety disorder
Cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce your anxiety, help you become desensitized to fear, and teach you new ways to behave and respond in social situations.
TMS is another innovative and highly effective option for treating social anxiety disorder. Electroencephalogram studies of brain activity in people with social anxiety disorder show they have electrical activity in specific brain areas that’s different from those who don’t have social anxiety.
After mapping your brainwaves and targeting the precise area in your brain, we can use TMS to stimulate nerve activity. TMS is a safe and noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to restore normal nerve activity. As a result, your social anxiety improves.
To learn more about treatment for social anxiety disorder, call MindSet TMS or schedule an appointment online today.