What is Social Anxiety Disorder or Fear of Being Judged?
Although social anxiety may be a “new” name, it is a problem that has been around for many hundreds of years.
Social Anxiety Disorder is the Fear (or worry) of being judged by other people and for many people it can have a very debilitating effect on their lives.
People suffering from social phobia will be very familiar with the phrase “you worry too much about what people think” and in essence, this is true.
Social Anxiety Disorder may be experienced in many different ways, and to help you identify if this IS your problem, I have listed below some typical symptoms associated with this anxiety:-
- Often feeling like your being “put on the spot”
- Go cold at the idea of standing up and talking to a large group of people
- Have a very limited social life with very few friends
- Being “shy” in common social settings
- Dislike being at parties
- Worry about Exam results
- Always sticking to the rules
- Difficulty talking on the telephone
- Stuttering and Stammering
- Find it difficult to look people in the eye
- Unable to use public toilets (Known as “shy bladder”)
- Feeling like a “fraud” and that people may be able to “see through you”
- Always asking for feedback about “how well you are doing”
One of the UK’s uppermost fears is of Public Speaking according to a recent YouGov survey.
Social Anxiety Disorder should not be underestimated as it can cause people to withdraw from life and, if not addressed, “migrate” into a Depressive Disorders. Social Anxiety can influence almost every aspect of your life and is almost certainly the most common form of anxiety experienced by people.
One recent revelation about Social Anxiety Disorder is that most of the people who “feel judged” almost invariably ARE judgemental themselves. In other words, one of the reasons that social phobia sufferers believe that everybody is essentially “coming to some negative conclusion” about them as a person, is because this is exactly what they are doing to other people!
If you find yourself judging other people (even if you keep it to yourself) is it any wonder that you might believe this is a trait shared by everybody else too?
What causes Social Anxiety Disorder?
Most people who suffer from social anxiety are likely to have had the problem from an early age. It is unusual to develop this type of problem later in life, although it may not become “expressed” as a problem until after some significant event triggers these buried feelings.
Social Anxiety is almost always “created” when some experience in our developmental years leaves us feeling emotionally overwhelmed and unable to deal with the feelings we felt at the time of the incident.
We might, perhaps, have had an experience where we felt like we “made a fool of ourselves” and have perceived that all the people who witnessed this incident were somehow “laughing at me”.
Something may have happened that made us feel terribly embarrassed causing us to “blush”, only then to find that any situation that in some way reminds us of this experience, causes this “blush response” to occur again.
Perhaps there were very high expectations to succeed in your family environment, in which case you may have felt that “failing” in some way would lead to “ridicule” or perhaps even some form of punishment, in which case you would learn to “dread” failure and constantly worry about it.
Almost any experience of this nature can create social anxiety in life.
Social Anxiety Disorder –
Liverpool, Chester and Wirral
In my experience The Thrive Programme is one of the best interventions which is designed to help you to overcome not only social anxiety but any other symptoms or behaviours that you may have developed alongside it.
The Thrive Programme for Social Anxiety Disorder
The very latest, and most effective way to deal with your fear of being judged is to follow a course ofThe Thrive Programme. This programme helps you to really understand how your “beliefs” have contributed to the way that you feel and in doing so, teaches you how to take control of your thinking and really change the way you “see the world.” Thrive is a therapeutic learning programme which helps to teach you how to stop creating anxiety rather than give you techniques to use when feeling anxious. You will also learn how to strengthen your psychological foundations so that you can become resilient and bounce back from those unexpected and unpredictable life events.
Most people experience blushing at some point, and it is a very normal, bodily reaction. Blushing occurs when the capillaries, tiny blood vessels which carry blood to our skin, widen and allow more blood to flow beneath the surface of the skin. This causes us to go red, and experience a feeling of being ‘flushed’.
Blushing or flushing happens for different reasons, for example when we go out in cold weather, in a sauna or hot room or do vigorous exercise we will often become red in the face, as our bodies react to external conditions and stimuli.
Some other examples which cause blushing would be:
- When you are attracted to someone and they notice you looking
- When feeling pleasure or certain types of relaxation
- If someone pays you a compliment
- When feeling guilty about something
The blush will be more noticeable in people with certain skin types and therefore drawing more attention to it. However, what we are talking about here is social blushing, the kind that may happen in an embarrassing situation or when we meet a certain person, and which can make us feel uncomfortable or even distressed.
Again, many of us have been affected by this kind of flushing, although for some people, the problem is more serious and is known as chronic blushing, or erythrophobia.
How it Affects People
As if having your face go red wasn’t enough, people who blush usually suffer from an additional problem, the fear of blushing!
The worst fear of all – someone noticing your blushing face or neck and commenting on it. Then one problem becomes increased to three, how to stop blushing, controlling the fear that you are going to blush and overcoming the fear of someone else making everyone else aware of it. Blushing is then more likely to occur because by then you are more self conscious than ever. A typical catch 22 situation.
People are often judged on first impressions – that split second assessment of someone very often counts. A bright red face can be accompanied by accelerated heart rate, frustration and insecurity. It gives people around the sufferer the opinion that the blusher is nervous, unable to focus/concentrate or worse be a bit suspicious or guilty!
People suffering from this condition may blush whilst meeting friends in the street, paying in a shop or just sitting with colleagues having lunch. Suddenly the face turns deep red or blotches appear on the neck turning an ordinary social situation into an embarrassment, making social and even professional life almost impossible in extreme cases.
It is frequently noticeable in people with ‘social phobia’. The sufferer can be diverted from their task eg public speaking and interrupting their train of thought. The problem of blushing can hold the person back in life and be detrimental in all sorts of situations from job interviews to important meetings. It can also affect relationships giving rise to low self esteem and lack of confidence. Sometimes individuals are labeled anti-
Facial blushing is a physical condition exacerbated by stressful situations and anxiety. It is caused by over activity in the sympathetic nervous system over which we have no conscious control. These uncontrollable nerves may become active due to social and emotional stimuli and may be very embarrassing.
The sufferer is only too aware of the situations which make them blush and therefore worry about those situations before they arise. The original anxiety produced the symptom and then the side effect of blushing becomes another anxiety.
Blushing is therefore the effect and the cause can be many and varied but for someone who suffers from inappropriate blushing the cause could be, and often is, linked to anxiety or bottled up emotions. As with many physical problems, blushing is made worse if the person’s mental equilibrium becomes unbalanced the cause of which remains elusive to most sufferers.
A phrase to describe that situation could be ‘That thing within yourself but outside of your control’.
Watch Adam’s video testimonial below.
Treatment for blushing
Many people have resorted to different ways of helping control their blushing ranging from cover up makeup to more severe ways eg Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy. The latter being a surgical intervention to apply clamps to the overactive sympathetic nerves in the chest cavity responsible for blushing or sweating (hyperidrosis).
(Note: In 2004 Thames Valley Priority Committee in their policy statement no. 60 recommended that ETS treatment be a low priority treatment and recommended that other treatments be sought due to the side effects produced)
Because blushing can be a secondary symptom of anxiety, it responds very well to psychotherapeutic interventions such as the Thrive Programme. This of course as explained elsewhere in the site is designed to eradicate or alleviate the anxiety or social anxiety which could be the cause of the blushing. During the course of the programme you will be able to determine those causes, thereby gaining insight and understanding into why it happens and then learn how to stop it from happening in the first place.