Helping Yourself Through Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can be a terrible thing, if you let it. While helping yourself through it will not be easy, it’s simply something you’ve got to do.

stress response

Learn To Breath With Total Deliberation

It may sound cliche, but breathing has a major impact on brain and body function. When you breathe deeply and deliberately, you can lower your speeding heart rate and create an opportunity to regain control. Practice your breathing in a calm and familiar place, so that you are prepared to call upon it during situations of high social anxiety. Deep breaths will help you focus your thought process onto something more positive and bearable.

Develop A Support System

Everyone needs a network of support, but those who deal with the pressure of social anxiety really need someone to depend on. Maybe a sibling or close friend would agree to take your calls when you’re feeling the most overwhelmed. Reserve the dialing for the times you are most overwhelmed, then let them talk you down from the heights of anxiety. It’s important to feel safe wherever you go, so if you have a confidant at work or have known the friendly doorman at your apartment building for years, depend on them. You don’t have to confess all your feelings and anxieties, just say hello and make small talk. The interlude will calm your nerves and provide you with a feeling of comfort. Make sure you’ve got somebody to lean on during the most severe bouts with anxiety though, because nobody should have to go through that alone.

Take Baby Steps

When you deal with social anxiety, every little thing can seem huge and insurmountable. Experts recommend that you learn to take life a little more slowly, while still making forward progress. Write down a list of things that cause you the most stress in order of severity. Take the item that’s least difficult and prepare yourself for dealing with it. Expose yourself to it in small doses, getting better at dealing with it each time. You will gain more confidence in yourself with every encounter and once your feel accomplished with one area, get ready to take on the next!

Practice Controlling Your Thoughts

When someone is anxious, their mind runs off in a thousand different directions, usually ending up on the worst case scenario. This is how anxiety perpetuates, leaving you feeling completely helpless and ready to run. Start telling yourself that you are indeed over reacting. Coach yourself through the situation with positive thoughts that remind you that you are the one in control.

Speak With Your Doctor

When social anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can ruin your life. You have difficulties simply speaking with people you know, so unfamiliar events like job interviews, gatherings with large groups and meandering anywhere out in the world can become impossible. If you find yourself facing this situation repeatedly, it may be time to talk to your doctor. You could benefit from some form of therapy or a prescription. This doesn’t mean there’s something terribly wrong with you! It means only that you are human and in need of a little help. Don’t keep the problem to yourself or try to hide it; you deserve to be able to live and enjoy your life.

Helping yourself through social anxiety will take time and practice. Start now. The sooner you begin to address the underlying problems that are taking over your life, the sooner you will get control of them.

Understanding Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia

Many people have the mistaken belief that agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces. While this is a common component of the disorder, it is not actually the entire problem. Agoraphobia is actually a phobia of being stuck in a situation which it is difficult to escape from, should things go wrong. This means that the person may be anxious about leaving the house, visiting busy public areas or traveling on public transport.

confinementIn most instances, agoraphobia is a complication of panic disorder. A panic attack can be overwhelming and frightening, and the sufferer may avoid situations where they have previously had an attack. Since a panic attack can also occur out of the blue and with no apparent trigger, the person may also become generally fearful of having an attack away from the safety of home – particularly if the attack was to happen in public and cause embarrassment. In a third of cases, people who suffer from panic attacks become so anxious about this that they develop agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia can trigger further panic attacks if the person finds themselves in a situation which causes them anxiety. The symptoms of this can include hyperventilation (rapid breathing), a racing heartbeat, feeling sweaty and too hot, and feeling nauseous. It can take anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours for a person to recover from a panic attack.

Treating Panic Disorder And Agoraphobia

Since there is such a strong link between agoraphobia and panic disorder, treating the panic attacks will normally help a person to recover from their agoraphobia as well. Because the causes of the disorder are normally psychological, therapy is the preferred way to treat it.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the form of therapy supported by most doctors, as it has the highest success rate. Since anxious thoughts – which are often irrational – can trigger or perpetuate a panic attack, the therapist will help people to become more aware of these thought processes and help them to replace them with more helpful ways of thinking. It can take many weeks or months of CBT to successfully control a panic disorder or agoraphobia, but the relapse rate is relatively low.

In recent years, relaxation training has also become popular as it can be just as effective as the CBT approach. This technique uses the link between body and mind to help the patient to develop coping strategies. The idea is that if a person relaxes certain muscles when they feel tense or anxious, then their mood will be become more relaxed as well. A person will normally require 12 to 15 sessions to master relaxation training.

Sometimes, a doctor may feel that the patient needs medication to control the symptoms in addition to psychological therapies. This will allow the patient to cope with daily life a little better, while they learn to overcome the psychological aspects of their panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Although panic attacks and agoraphobia can make life very difficult, most people can resume a normal life through support from their doctor.