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Studies Find Social Anxiety Disorder To Be Worse Than Previously Thought

One of the worst fears of those who suffer from social anxiety disorder is getting together with a large group of people during a special occasion. This makes the holidays a particularly frightening time for people, as well as birthday parties, and any other event that brings groups together. Unfortunately, in the past social anxiety disorder has gone untreated and even unnoticed, but recent studies have brought to light how serious this can be for those who suffer from it, and a few ways that it can be dealt with without using medication or other medical treatments. Dr. Kalina Michalska from the National Institute of Mental Health studies Developmental and Affective Neuroscience, and is quoted by Medical News Today in saying: “Social anxiety disorder is characterized by the presence of fear or anxiety about social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. The individual overestimates their likelihood of being rejected and frequently fears that he or she will act in a way that will be embarrassing and humiliating.”

Every human being will experience some form of nervousness and anxiety in their lifetime, and depending on the situation it could occur in a setting filled with many people or with only a few others to be bothered by. Some people must deal with these feelings at work, school, or during recreation. Doing something as casual as going to the gym or shopping for groceries could inevitably end in a panic attack, but what is often worse than the experience itself is the worry that occurs beforehand.

Symptoms and Causes

Social anxiety disorder usually begins during young adulthood and currently is reported to affect over fifteen million adults within the United States alone. Of these fifteen million sufferers, many will experience the inability to speak to others, even those that they are acquainted with. Others will fear judgment and feel extreme levels of anxiety when faced with the prospect of meeting others, which can mean days or even weeks of worry and stress. Christian Today explains: “Although the condition can be disabling and can significantly affect people’s lives due to the impact upon relationships, research has shown that it is often overlooked in comparison to other disorders. A research fellow from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explained to MNT that the disorder is not taken seriously.”

While the mental and psychological symptoms can be quite severe, there are also physical symptoms associated with this illness. Those with social anxiety disorder may feel sick to their stomachs, feel short of breathe, have tension and soreness in muscles, a spike in temperature and heart rate, and shakiness. Due to all of these negative reactions to even the thought of being social, many people will avoid socializing all together and will call in sick to work, skip family events, and avoid social places such as the mall or movie theater.

Types Of Fear Associated With The Disorder

This type of disorder can cause different levels of symptoms for people who experience it, which means that some may not be able to do things like eat in public, while others can function fairly normally, and may even seem as though nothing is wrong until you speak to them. The symptoms don’t lead to the diagnosis of a disorder unless they are experienced over a period of 6 months, but reports have shown that many individuals won’t report these symptoms for nearly ten years in some cases because they don’t know how to seek help or are too frightened or anxious to do so. Alexandra Massey of The Huffington Post writes: “Typical situations that might be anxiety-provoking include meeting people, including strangers, talking in meetings or in groups, starting conversations, talking to authority figures, working, eating or drinking while being observed, going to school, going shopping, being seen in public, using public toilets and public performances such as public speaking.”

Recent studies have shown that one of the causes of this disorder could be related to over activity in the amygdala, which is a region of the brain that controls the human relationship to fear. Unfortunately, this disorder can often be misinterpreted as another type of mental illness, and go untreated. It also leads to more intensified mental problems relating to anxiety such as depression.

Treatment And Cures

Unfortunately there is no known cure for this disorder, but there are ways to cope with it so that the disorder doesn’t control your life. Some sufferers have been able to move past it, but still feel it nagging from time to time. The first step to take toward recovery and living your life is better understanding what you’re dealing with and why it is happening to you. Once you understand the mental and physical reaction that you are having you can speak to a professional about help. There are medications, support groups, and therapies that have helped many people who suffer from social anxiety disorder.

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