5 Benefits of Seeking Out Social Anxiety Support
Most everyone experiences mild anxiety every now and then, usually in response to a stressful event, such as public speaking. With social anxiety disorder, feelings of fear and anxiety persist for six months or longer, according to the Perelman School of Medicine.
Anxiety disorders in general exist as the third most common mental health problem in the United States. Social anxiety disorder in particular can cause greatly impair a person’s ability to interact with others and form lasting relationships.
While medication and psychotherapy treatments work well at helping a person work through the underlying issues that fuel anxiety, social anxiety support options act as a self-help measure for managing symptoms. Social anxiety support groups help provide insight and guidance on how to deal with the everyday stressors and challenges social anxiety sufferers face.
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Identifying Unhealthy Thinking Styles
Identifying unhealthy thinking patterns is the first step towards working through whatever underlying issues trigger anxious feelings in social situations. Social anxiety support approaches categorize thinking patterns according to styles or mindset:
- Personalizing – thinking others see you in a negative light or thinking they’re overly focused on you
- Mind reading – projecting negative thoughts you feel towards yourself onto others, assuming others see in the same way you see yourself
- Catastrophizing – overreacting or blowing things out of proportion, such as how others will view you if they notice you’re nervous or uncomfortable
- Fortune telling – assuming the worse will happen before a particular social interaction takes place
Building Better Relationships
Breaking destructive belief systems becomes the overall goal of social anxiety support. Ultimately, negative thoughts towards self and assumptions about how other people see you fuel anxious feelings.
Social anxiety support helps a person challenge the faulty logic behind negative thought patterns. In the process, a person learns to replace destructive thinking with more practical ways of viewing any one situation.
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More than anything else, avoiding anxiety-prone situations only works to worsen social anxiety symptoms and thinking patterns. For this reason, social anxiety support approaches encourage people to face social situations as opposed to avoiding them.
In effect, the temporary relief gained through avoidance prevents a person from developing the coping skills needed to diffuse the fear that drives the problem. Through gradual social exposure, a person comes to feel more comfortable while building his or her confidence in the process.
Working Through Mental Health Issues
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people struggling with anxiety disorders commonly suffer from co-occurring mental health issues. It’s also not uncommon for social anxiety sufferers to engage in substance abuse, which only works to exacerbate social anxiety symptoms.
Under these conditions, social anxiety support may require psychotherapy and/or medication treatment. As mental health and substance abuse problems can both disrupt normal brain chemical processes, treating these issues first and foremost is essential to overcoming social anxiety.
Building Better Relationships
People suffering from social anxiety have difficulty interacting with others, which makes it hard to form meaningful, lasting relationships. Social anxiety support approaches not only help people overcome fears associated with social situations, but also helps in developing healthy communication skills. Over time, a person gains the confidence needed to form genuine relationships with others.
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