What is social anxiety and how does it feed the isolation of who suffers from it?

We all need moments of solitude, but people are mainly social creatures. Connecting with others gives us a sense of meaning and purpose and helps us to make our way into the world.

That's why social anxiety can be so devastating that it hurts our ability to connect.

Sometimes known as "Social phobia", this affliction can turn an ordinary social interaction into a humiliating experience. It begins as a concern and a loss of words. Then it develops because of panic. Over time, it develops into a deep feeling of inferiority.

Writer and editor Jazmin Cybulski has had problems with social anxiety for most of her life. She describes feeling distant in social situations for reasons beyond her control. During episodes of social anxiety, her usual ease of language escapes her. Sometimes it happens when she is one-on-one with a person she admires. Other times, he hits when he's in a crowded room.

"It's like there's a disconnect between my brain's ability to cope with any situation that's happening and my desire to be completely involved in the situation," Cybulski said. "I want to be there, but my brain won't let me be there completely."

Shaun Walker, creative director and co-founder of a marketing and public relations agency, has suffered from social anxiety since he was a teenager. An introverted individual from an outgoing family, Walker says he feels there's something wrong with him, but he's not sure how to fix it.

"I've seen a psychologist for this and now I take medication, which helps me with anxiety, but sometimes I feel disappointed in the social scenes," he said. "I want to talk more; Do it, but I just don't. I don't know what to say, I'm detained in previous experiences. "

These are common themes according to Jonathan Berent, a clinical social worker and therapist from Great Neck, New York, who has spent the last 40 years to understand and treat social anxiety. Berent has written three books on the subject and has had a constant clinical success in helping clients cope with social anxiety.

"It's very gratifying when you can help people in this way because there are deeply positive things that can happen," he said.

La low self-esteem and the feeling of losing can torment people with social anxiety, but getting rid of this mindset may seem like an impossible task. The impulse to avoid social situations is reinforced by a sense of deficiency, as a result of uncontrollably bizarre or forced behavior in the presence of others, feeding a vicious circle.

To deal with the pain of being close to people, people with social anxiety often develop a special ability to numb the outside world. That's why Berent calls it "resistance sickness."

"As a defense mechanism, patients learn to disconnect from the thoughts and feelings associated with anxiety. This detachment leads to evasion and pent-up emotion, which is recycled negatively, "Berent said.

Social anxiety is estimated to affect up to 7 percent of the population, but the actual number may be much higher. Experts believe that many cases are not diagnosed because those who suffer are too ashamed to seek help.

A form of social anxiety that most people can relate to is the fear of public speaking. We become more embarrassed when a crowd focuses on our discourse and appearance. Now imagine if you always felt under the spotlight: every word and every action is subject to intense public scrutiny.

Often confused with shyness, social anxiety is not about having a quiet or shy disposition, but rather a constant fear of ridicule and rejection. You're thinking too much about what to say to avoid looking silly and seem dumber in the process.

For some, the classic symptoms of shame, such as blushing, stuttering, and sweating, are aggravated. Remorse and flaws seem to magnify in the presence of people, the mind is left blank and self-esteem wither.

There are no data available to show an increase in social anxiety, but therapists report seeing more people struggling with it in recent years. Cybulski believes that cultural pressure to be perfect plays an important role.

"We are all told that we are the best in everything, but no one is perfect, and that expectation is paralyzing many people," he said. "This extends to social situations. We don't want them to see us fail to be perfect for sociability, but that fear of failure makes us fail anyway. "

In a society that emphasizes competition, increased productivity and perfect performance, social anxiety continues.

"People who are afflicted are dying of shame," Berent said. "For example, a woman who almost died of ovarian cancer told me, ' Jonathan, I'd rather go back to chemo than talk in front of a group. ' Why? Because with cancer there's no trial. "

Technology perpetuates this affliction as our convenient devices maintain unwanted human contact at a comfortable distance.

Everyone has social needs and people with social anxiety naturally gravitate towards social networks to meet those needs. This format allows people anxious for the time to elaborate exactly what they mean without the pressure, uncomfortable silences or embarrassing behaviors that can arise with a real person in real time.

In an article that explores the increase in social anxiety and why people are reluctant to seek help, psychologist Dra. Laura Chackes says social networks are sometimes the only way that socially-nervous people interact with others. But this strategy can be counterproductive and inflict some of the most unpleasant features of online culture on extremely sensitive people.

"They have an even greater risk of the negative effects related to the other, exclusion and cyberbullying compared to others," said Chackes.

Too much confidence in technology can also erode our people's abilities. Travel author and blogger Lauren Juliff has suffered social anxiety for most of her life. She works online, so it's easy for her to avoid other people. But his social anxiety got a lot worse while working on a time-sensitive project a few years ago.

In 2015, Juliff got a book contract that required a manuscript completed in just a few months. She agreed to the tight deadline, working 18-hour days and seldom leaving the house.

When he finally came out, Juliff had not seen any friends he had not even felt the sunlight on his skin for four months. Just being out there made her nervous, and talking to people felt too far from her comfort zone.

"I overlooked everything I said in every conversation I had over the next few months, beating me if a joke didn't work, or if I couldn't find anything to say when I was forced to do it, I was left in an awkward silence," Juliff said.

There were also physical symptoms. Talking to friends caused me dizziness and heart palpitations. Just walking to a friend's house caused me severe stomach cramps. Juliff had to turn around and go home, reporting through the text message that she was too sick to meet.

"On the rare occasions that I was able to overcome the pain, I arrived and was so nervous that I would say something strange, so I opted to say nothing and stay alone in an uncomfortable silence."  Said Juliff. "It got pretty bad."

Juliff is an extreme case, but in a world where text messages have replaced speech as the dominant form of non-personal communication for people under the age of 50 years, it can be a sign of a growing trend.

Berent believes that with our greater dependence on technology, the neural pathways required for basic social skills, such as verbal communication, have begun to atrophy.

"This is really becoming an epidemic," he said.

Facing social fears

Social anxiety does not go away alone, therapists and patients agree that challenging social fears is essential for recovery.

For Juliff, this meant learning to let go of what other people think and forcing themselves to do things that made them uncomfortable, like asking a stranger questions, accepting invitations or inviting friends home. To remain calm, Juliff resorted to meditation.

"I discovered that if I meditated before leaving, I would leave the house feeling relaxed, which helped me feel better equipped to talk to my friends," he said. "I realized that I had stopped analyzing every word that came out of my mouth, too."

The conventional strategy for addressing social anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy with the option of medication if feelings of anxiety are too difficult to control. But Berent does not believe that these strategies reach the heart of the problem.

"Cognition is very important; It all starts with a thought. Conduct speaks for itself. But this does not work with the central problem, which is anger and how it relates to physiology, "he said.

This idea is inspired by the work of the late Dr. John Sarno, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of New York School of Medicine, known for his surprising and effective controversial idea. Sarno discovered that the majority of chronic back pain goes back to pent-up anger. Berent sees the same pattern in social anxiety.

"This is the ultimate disease of resistance because people don't want to feel it," Berent said. "Once they begin to process anger, the goal is to channel it into productive energy."

These people have a lot to be angry about. Living with a constant fear of what others think is a huge burden to carry and makes life extremely limiting. It also avoids many of the good experiences that happen with others, such as building healthy relationships.

People who do not suffer from social anxiety often believe that they can simply get out of it with enough willpower. But some say recovery is the hardest thing they've ever done.

There's a big reward for getting off the other side. Berent teaches his patients how to take advantage of the adrenaline surges that have once left them senseless, and use it as a means to focus, stay present and concentrate on what they really want to communicate. The result is a compromised, sincere and meaningful interaction.

Getting to this place requires introspection. Someone who spends most of the time can only believe that he already stands out in this ability, but Berent insists that being in your head is not the same as entering.

Due to the work and courage needed for recovery, a key quality to follow this process is the initiative. For some, motivation is the promise of appointments or better job opportunities. For Juliff, he realized that all his closest friends had changed because he couldn't maintain a relationship.

"I knew I had to make a change or I'd end up miserable and alone for the rest of my life," he said.

for those who lack initiative, they may never be able to free themselves.

When parents contact Berent for help because their adult son or daughter, unemployed or who spend their lives playing video games, is often surprised when he wants to talk to them first, as parents may not realize that they are OBSTAC Ulizando your children's initiative.

"This is an addiction to evasion," Berent said. "So if you don't teach patients what to do, this problem will be maintained."

Important: This article was written merely for information purposes and is not intended to replace the visit to your doctor, dietitian or specialist. If you have any concerns, consult your doctor.

Source: www.theepochtimes.com.