Social anxiety is a diagnosable and increasingly common disorder. And it goes far beyond those times when we may feel tongue-tied, awkward, out-of-place, or shy. Social anxiety is more than a temporary discomfort — although it may start out like that. This disorder provokes deeper symptoms that impact your entire life. It is marked by behaviors like avoidance and isolation that may be more triggered than ever in our digital world.
Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
- Shakiness in body and/or voice
- Increase heart rate
- Sweaty palms
- Tight chest or throat
- Dry mouth
- Upper body muscle tension
- Loss of focus and concentration
- Digestive issues
Intense worry and fear that you:
- Appear awkward or inferior
- Will be judged and rejected
- Can’t find the right words
- Might find yourself to be the center of attention
- Are considered stupid or inadequate
After social interactions, the person with social anxiety may feel shame and guilt. They often replay — over and over — every conversation, in a self-judging way.
How Social Anxiety Can Prevent You From Realizing Your Goals and Desires
Even a casual glance at the above symptom lists will highlight how debilitating social anxiety can be. Some of those signs can be directly measured. Less obvious, at first, is how social anxiety decreases one’s quality of life. It leaves you less likely to:
- Try new things
- Take any kind of risk
- Even leave the house
You may feel trapped or stifled. You have goals and desires but the anxiety keeps you from taking any steps in those directions. Eventually, this adds up to:
- Missed opportunities
- Loss of income
- Unfulfilled potential
This frustrating trend may serve to “confirm” the fears and doubts you currently have about yourself. From there, the cycle deepens — unless you seek help. The most common treatment options are therapy and medications. However, group therapy is recently becoming more a more popular and effective option.
4 Reasons to Try Group Therapy If You’re Living with Social Anxiety
A fundamental component of social anxiety is a sense of feeling alone. In a group, by definition, you are not isolated. In such a setting, you can form relationships with your fellow group members and begin to recognize that others share similar struggles.
With the help of a skilled group facilitator and other members with similar struggles, you’ll have the opportunity to practice new skills. This is an environment literally set precisely for this purpose. While you may experience anxiety just being in a group, you will also be provided with the opportunity to work through that anxiety in a safe space.
It may sound cliché but helping other people truly is a proven path toward healing. In group therapy for social anxiety, you will have the opportunity to do just that. You will naturally begin to help your fellow group members, gaining a sense of accomplishment and purpose. In addition, you will learn more about your own feelings of anxiety.
It only makes sense that many people with social anxiety fear competition. They tend to shy away from it, at the very least. Ironically, competition in a group setting can be a powerful agent for growth because it carries with it a feeling of healthy motivation. As you watch others grow and change, you will almost certainly be inspired to summon the courage to change yourself. The camaraderie can be contagious!
Keep in mind that group therapy, of course, is also more cost-efficient than individual therapy. Imagine that, working toward recovery with others who “get” your struggle…and not breaking the bank in the process!