Can you ever forget that first awkward moment when you were left out? Whether you were the last kid picked for kickball or the one left standing with the chaperones at the dance, didn’t you just want to fade into the wallpaper?
You certainly weren’t in a rush to repeat that moment. For people with Social Phobia, they do just fade away from contact with others rather than risk rejection. People with social phobia are scared of being judged as unworthy, laughed at or ignored.
They’re also certain that everyone in the room is watching and judging them. So fearful of this imagined scrutiny, people with social phobia find it almost impossible to go to a party, conference, training session or even to attend classes.
The fear that comes from social phobia is enough to interfere with going to school or work. No matter how many drug commercials you see on TV, you’re probably too embarrassed to tell anyone that you have Social Phobia.
Since your fears trigger things like nausea, trembling, blushing and stomachaches, you’re more likely to say that you can’t go to an event because you’re feeling sick. Being sick is accepted, nobody questions it, so it’s a safe response.
After getting away from the situation, you know that your fear isn’t realistic and you swear to go next time. But it’s just so hard to face your fear. You probably feel like no one would understand, yet over 15 million adults in the US alone are known to have Social Phobia.
That number is likely much larger if you consider those people who suffer from the same symptoms but don’t have a name for their feelings. It’s not un-manly or just a woman’s problem – because Social Phobia occurs equally among men and women.
Because you’re spending time alone and angry at yourself about what you’re missing, it’s easy to fall into a depression about it. Some people with Social Phobia try to self-medicate with illegal drugs or alcohol just to forget their inadequacies.
That only adds a new problem. Social Phobia can become so extreme that you’re absent from work to the point that you lose your job. After that happens, your self-confidence takes another beating so you make every possible excuse to avoid going out on job interviews.
Social Phobia also destroys friendships at a time when you really need other people to support you. Unless you share what you’re going through with a trusted friend, other people in your social circle may just write you off as snobby, rude or a loner.
Suddenly what you feared (being judged by others) starts happening as a reaction to you constantly canceling dates, making promises you can’t keep and acting aloof. It’s really a vicious cycle so you have to reach out to at least one person. Social Phobia is often overcome through prescription medications, hypnotherapy, or counselling.
Filed Under: Stress Management