Living With Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder creates constant feelings of stress and discomfort, making it difficult to function in the world comfortably and effectively. Because women with social anxiety are often labeled shy, they accept their condition as a personality trait and not a disorder that should be treated. This is unfortunate, since social anxiety disorder responds favorably to intensive, compassionate, practically-focused treatment that address every aspect of the condition.

Shyness is a relatively common personality trait. But social anxiety disorder is less common and nowhere near as well known. Consequently, others tend to misjudge the nature of socially anxious behavior. They dismiss it as shyness or a lack of interest in socializing or making friends.

If you have social anxiety disorder, you know how wrong this perception actually is. Your anxiety is a constant and unwelcome companion that influences all of your social interactions and places frustrating limits on your choices. Your uncontrollable fear of being judged harshly by others is not a personality trait, but an unfortunate obstacle that prevents you from living your dreams and finding the happiness and fulfillment you deserve.

How Does Social Anxiety Originate?

Intense social anxiety is a symptom of a much deeper problem. People living with social anxiety disorder are nervous during social encounters because they fear rejection and the terrible feelings of inferiority that rejection will provoke. They’re convinced others will see or sense their extreme discomfort, and come away from the encounter thinking of them as strange, stupid, or weak.

Such feelings are a reflection of acutely negative self-esteem. Women with social anxiety disorder project their own grim and merciless self-judgments onto others, and their tendency to do so interferes with their ability to be objective about themselves and the world around them.

Social anxiety disorder, and the self-esteem problems that underlie it, are often rooted in childhood neglect and emotional abuse, or other traumatic exposures. Recovery from social anxiety will require deep self-examination, to help you identify some of the past experiences that left you feeling so insecure and overwhelmed in social situations.

The Psychological and Emotional Aspects of Social Anxiety

Living with social anxiety is exhausting. The stress can be unrelenting at times, especially if you’re working, in school, or forced to remain in other environments where you have to interact with people.

Your fear of social encounters is a daily reality. It can ramp up to uncomfortable levels before, during, and after social interactions with strangers, co-workers, employers, neighbors, family members outside your “comfort circle,” and authority figures of all types. Each and every such encounter seems vaguely threatening, as your irrational worries about being judged and rejected take control and put you through the emotional ringer.

One fascinating aspect of social anxiety disorder is that its distortions of reality are no secret to those who experience them. You know other people aren’t really so hostile, judgmental, and mean-spirited. You know they don’t automatically think of themselves as superior to you, and you realize in most cases that your feelings of being closely watched and scrutinized are imaginary.

But your social anxiety is still too powerful to resist. Its deceptions and projections hold you in their grip, leaving your anxiety symptoms largely untouched by your understanding of their irrationality.

Social Anxiety in Daily Life

Social anxiety disorder is a life-altering condition. Left unchecked, its negative impact will spread. SAD can severely limit your success and bring instability into your life in virtually every important category, including:

  • Career and education. Social anxiety disorder is associated with lower educational achievement, fewer employment opportunities, lower income, higher levels of job stress, and a greater likelihood of ending up on disability.
  • Relationships. Women with social anxiety problems are likely to end up isolated and alone. Romantic relationships may be rare or nonexistent, childhood friends drift away over time and are not replaced, and even in the family, social anxiety disorder can make someone a virtual outcast (when the behavior the condition causes is misidentified as hostility or disinterest).
  • Personal development. Despite their interest in learning new activities or acquiring more knowledge or new skills, women with social anxiety won’t sign up for adult classes or lessons, attend lectures, go to church, or join non-profit groups whose goals they support, all because they fear they’ll be unable to handle meeting and interacting with new people.
  • Normal daily functioning. Many who develop social anxiety disorder struggle to accomplish things that others do with ease. For example, they may never learn to drive because they’re intimidated by the thought of interacting with an instructor or taking a driver’s license test. They might fail to make phone calls or make office visits to ask important questions about social security benefits, tax payments, voter registration, and so on, all because of their social inhibitions.
  • Social skills development. Even if they could snap their fingers and make their social anxiety disappear instantly, many women with social anxiety disorder would still lack the social skills necessary to build successful relationships. Their efforts to break free from social anxiety, even for just a few moments, would be sabotaged by their awkwardness or inability to think of anything to say.
  • Health. Women with social anxiety may neglect their physical health because they’re intimidated by authority figures and are reluctant to make doctor’s appointments. Their fears and insecurities often prevent them from asking for help from psychiatrists or psychologists, even after they realize they have social anxiety disorder. Women with untreated social anxiety disorder are likely to develop other conditions as well, like depression and panic disorder.

The echoes of your social anxiety disorder will reverberate throughout every area of your life. They can eventually extinguish your dreams and ambitions, if no action is taken to stop it from happening. If you don’t seek help, you’ll end up living in permanent survival mode, laboring to make it to the end of each day and through each new crisis, either big or small, that your social anxiety manufactures for you.

Your avoidance behaviors may protect you somewhat from what you fear the most (the harsh judgments of other people). But staying home alone and isolated will prevent you from really living, and if you stay trapped in limbo forever it may leave you filled with regret.

Begin Your Recovery Journey.


Residential Treatment Can Help You Overcome Your Social Anxiety

If you’re willing to be patient, and not become discouraged by the occasional setback, there are steps you can take all on your own that can reduce the influence your social anxiety disorder has over your life.

For example, you can:

  • Make weekly outpatient visits to a private therapist
  • Take anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a psychiatrist
  • Read self-help books that discuss strategies for coping with or overcoming social anxiety
  • Try anti-stress wellness practices like meditation and self-hypnosis
  • Communicate with others in your situation in online support groups or online forums, where advice and understanding are available
  • Try online dating services, where other socially anxious people may congregate
  • Leverage the relationships you do have with family members or friends by asking them to accompany you to social events, where their moral support and encouragement might embolden your efforts to socialize

You can accomplish a lot on your own. But you can progress even more if you seek out the assistance of mental health experts. While outpatient therapy can be helpful, residential treatment for social anxiety disorders is the best option for lasting change.

With the expert assistance of trained clinicians, you can gain greater insights into the causes of your social anxiety, while also getting instruction in techniques that can counteract your anxiety and leave you feeling more in control. In this healing-oriented environment, you’ll heal and grow alongside peers who are in recovery for social anxiety or other mental health conditions, and the mutual support you provide to each other will empower everyone’s efforts to change.

During your time in treatment, you ll gradually learn new and more productive ways of thinking, behaving, and interacting. Treatment for social anxiety disorder can work remarkably well if you’re willing to take responsibility for your condition and follow a comprehensive plan to overcome it. With expert treatment, your dreams of a future where social anxiety is no longer in charge can finally become a reality.

Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment at Helix Treatment Centers

Helix Treatment Center’s innovative gender-specific mental health treatment program is designed to help women gain the life skills and strength needed to manage their symptoms and learn to better cope with the lingering effects of social anxiety and related diagnoses in a supportive environment that caters to their psychological, physiological, and emotional needs. We offer a tranquil space to restore emotional and behavioral health and stability in a safe, comfortable environment at our six-bed residence nestled in the beautiful Mt. Helix region of San Diego.

Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.