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Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is an extremely common problem. Millions of people all over the world suffer from this devastating and traumatic problem every day. Social anxiety disorder is not just shyness – it is more severe than that. Social anxiety disorder can greatly affect your life. You may not do as well at school or work or in your personal relationships you might have done, as you tend to avoid situations involving one to one encounters, group work, meetings or discussions. You may find it hard to get, or keep, a job. This may be because you feel unable to cope with the social aspects needed for many jobs, including interviews.  A fear of dating and getting close to another person can mean you may miss out on finding a partner and it can be generally difficult to make friends of either sex. Even going into banks and shops and travelling on public transport can be a challenge.

People with social anxiety disorder know that their anxiety is irrational but having this knowledge is not enough to overcome it. Thus, in people with social anxiety, thoughts and feelings of anxiety persist and show no signs of going away despite the fact that socially-anxious people “face their fears” every day of their lives. Many people say that their symptoms began after one memorable embarrassing experience but many others simply say that it has been present ‘as long as they could remember’.

Do you suffer from the following symptoms?

  • Anxiety about being with other people
  • Difficulty talking in a confident relaxed way to others
  • Self-consciousness in front of other people and feelings of embarrassment
  • Fear that other people will judge you
  • Worry for days or weeks before an public event
  • Avoidance of public places and crowds
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
  • Other physical symptoms, such as stomach upset, nausea, muscle tension and headaches


Social anxiety disorder rarely has a single cause. It often starts when a person is young, often emerging in the teenage years or early adulthood. It may be connected to experiencing or witnessing traumatic social experiences in the past. It may be connected to inadequate or overprotective parenting styles that keep children from learning necessary social skills. In many cases, no particular cause can be found.

Getting Help

Many people wait for years before seeking help – partly due to the isolating nature of the affliction – sufferers may find it difficult to ask for or find help. Others might feel that shyness is part of their character or makeup that they can do little to change.
Social anxiety can be successfully treated but it is important to recognise that there will be no “quick-fix”. Counselling has been shown to be extremely effective where there is a strong commitment to practice certain tasks agreed between counsellor and client. It is a continuous process of goal setting, practicing techniques and strategies, accomplishing tasks, meeting goals, moving up expectations until goals are finally met. This must always be done at the clients’ own preferred pace, the counsellor can only offer gentle encouragement and support. You are in control!

Social Anxiety and Counselling

Counsellors will often teach their clients breathing and other relaxation techniques or encourage them to use guided imagery both in sessions and by listening to audio recordings in between sessions. Affirmations can be extremely useful  for an extra confidence boost in a challenging situation. This is where the client chooses one or two key statements that they find particular useful and empowering such as “There will almost always be people out there who don’t like me. This is totally normal” or “I just need to be myself — and if people don’t like me for it, tough luck!”  or “Many wonderful changes have already occurred in me. I’m getting better and stronger everyday.”

See also my Stress, Anxiety and Panic Attacks page and my Anxiety Counselling Cork page.

Counselling for Anxiety Disorders

Counselling can help the majority of those suffering with social anxiety disorder recover and resume normal life. If you would like some help in order to deal with your social anxiety disorder, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.

Other related articles:  Managing Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Anxiety Symptoms, Anxiety Counselling, Stress and Sensitivity, Sleep Well, Panic Attacks


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