Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is a persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most common anxiety disorders. Social anxiety is much more than “shyness”. It can be intense fear and anxiety over simple everyday activities, such as shopping or speaking on the phone. I provide sessions in London for social anxiety CBT and hypnotherapy. Get in touch to find out more.
What is social anxiety and how can CBT and hypnotherapy help?
Social anxiety is more common that you might imagine
Many people sometimes worry about certain social situations, but someone with social anxiety will worry excessively about them before, during and afterwards. They fear doing or saying something they think will be embarrassing or humiliating, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent. This in itself can create racing thoughts and the anxiety symptoms of sweating and blushing they are trying to avoid.
Social anxiety CBT is useful as Social anxiety can really have a disruptive or disabling impact on a person’s life. It can severely affect confidence and self-esteem, interfere with relationships and impair performance at work or study. Social anxiety can often start during childhood or adolescence and tends to be more common in women. If your symptoms are strong, it may be very worthwhile to consult your GP, if medication could help you. However certainly social anxiety CBT and hypnotherapy are highly effective ways to reduce this anxiety and I do have appointments at my London practice.
Signs of Social Anxiety
Teens and adults with social anxiety disorder may dread everyday activities, such as:
- meeting strangers
- talking in groups or starting conversations
- speaking on the telephone
- talking to authority figures
- eating or drinking with company
they may also:
- have low self-esteem and feel insecure about their relationships
- fear being criticised
- avoid eye-to-eye contact
- misuse drugs or alcohol to try to reduce their anxiety
Social anxiety CBT and panic attacks
The fear of a social situation can sometimes build up to a panic attack, where you feel an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. This usually only lasts a few minutes. You may also experience physical symptoms, such as feeling sick, sweating, trembling and heart palpitations. These symptoms often reach a peak before quickly passing. Although these type of symptoms can be alarming, they don’t cause any physical harm.
This fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed. Although anxiety about some social situations is common in the general population, people with social anxiety disorder can worry excessively about them and can do so for weeks in advance. They may also ruminate on social events they perceive have gone wrong for weeks afterwards. Usually the condition causes significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.
Situations that can provoke social anxiety
Examples of situations that can provoke social anxiety are:
- Inviting people into the home
- Eating or drinking while being observed
- Using public toilets
- Attending parties
- Starting conversations or not being able to think of something to say
- Shopping when interaction is required, such as at checkouts or in smaller shops
- Swimming, gym or exercise classes
- Talking to authority figures
- Working or going to school
- Activities with peers
- Being the centre of attention
- Signing documents or writing in front of people
- Social interaction and meeting people, including strangers
- Public performance including speaking in groups
Feelings and emotional symptoms of social anxiety:
- Anxiety, stress or worry
- Embarrassment, shame or humiliation
- Acting or feeling foolish
- Feeling panicky or having panic attacks
- Frustration or anger
- A fear of negative observation/evaluation
Physical and cognitive symptoms:
- Feeling hot, blushing, sweating, developing a rash
- Dry mouth and throat
- Facial freezing or tension
- Hand tremor
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Grinding teeth
- Nausea or butterflies, a churning stomach
- Unable to think straights or the mind goes blank
- Stumbling over words
- Racing thoughts
- Poor concentration and short-term memory
- Easily distracted and uncoordinated
- Urgency to use the toilet
- Tightness in the chest or hyperventilation
- Feeling light-headed or faint
Behavioural symptoms and safety behaviours
- Distraction (not listening, fidgeting)
- Not speaking or speaking quietly
- Avoiding eye contact
- Leaving/avoiding the situation
- Talking excessively
- Avoiding initiating conversations
- Non-assertive behaviour
- Missing appointments, events or classes
- Choosing solitary hobbies or careers
Treatment for social anxiety
Social anxiety CBT is currently one of the most accepted and practiced psychotherapies used to treat social anxiety. CBT is a research-based therapy, meaning its accepted strategies and methods come from numerous clinical studies that yielded high success rates and proven effectiveness.
How can hypnotherapy help social anxiety?
Solution-focused hypnotherapy is an excellent treatment for social anxiety, as it focuses on a clear goal and helps you work on an achievable path to get there.
Hypnotherapy offers a safe and relaxed way to tackle anxiety. The hypnotherapy for anxiety I use at my London practice can help you feel calmer and more confident when handling tough situations and help reduce anxiety affecting your daily life. If you would like to book a free consultation or have any questions, get in touch today.
Hypnotherapy for anxiety can help reduce fears around events such as social situations, going on a date or before a job interview. We will look at why you may feel self-consciousness or embarrassment. For many this is due to a fear of being scrutinised or judged negatively by other people. Although in some cases, anxiety improves with age, though that is not the case for everyone.
If you would like to reduce social anxiety using CBT or hypnotherapy, get in touch today.