Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is a persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. Someone suffering from SAD may find the following situations a challenge:

  • Meeting strangers and new people
  • Social events, activities, and parties
  • Using the telephone
  • Eating in restaurants
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Spending long periods of time with other people
  • Completing everyday tasks like shopping or going to work

In this article, we'll explore what SAD is and how we treat it.

Common thoughts when suffering from SAD

Someone with SAD may find that they worry about a number of different things, including:

Obsessing over the details before a social event or group activity. They may make themselves feel ill with worry and want to cancel, even though they have done similar events before and have not experienced any negative consequences.

Feeling like others are judging or criticising them.

Worrying that they will do something they find embarrassing, leading to them feeling humiliated. This could even be the symptoms of anxiety: for example, blushing too much, and other people noticing these symptoms.

A background sense of dread at the idea of meeting strangers or having to talk to people.

Physical symptoms

People with SAD may experience panic attacks. Symptoms can include uncontrollable blushing, shaking, sweating, heart palpitations and feeling sick.

Panic attacks are not dangerous, but they are extremely unpleasant.

Even if someone does not experience a full-blown panic attack, they may find that they experience some of the symptoms listed above in everyday social situations.

How we treat social anxiety

Much like other phobias, social anxiety is a highly treatable condition.

We use an integrative approach, so your therapy will be tailored to you. In the first session, you'll spend some time getting to know your therapist so that they can provide you with the perfect programme.

You will typically spend some time learning about anxiety works so that you are better able to recognise the symptoms of anxiety and understand the way it manifests in your life and the thoughts that accompany it.

Your therapy may involve small, step-by-step experiments where you test out some of the thoughts you have about yourself. Your therapist will help you put together a plan to tackle these in a manageable way that pushes you just enough to make improvements while preventing you from being overwhelmed.

We'll work at your pace, so your therapy can move forward as fast or as slow as you are comfortable with.

The things you will learn will stay with you for the rest of your life. So, even after your therapy has finished, you will continue to benefit from the sessions.