Social anxiety is an intense fear of feeling that people around you think you’re stupid or annoying. It can be genetic where if someone in your family suffers social phobia you too are at the risk of suffering it or some people who have an appearance that draws attention like stuttering or tremor’s due to Parkinson’s disease can make them self conscious and can later on trigger social anxiety. It can also be due to bullying, abuse or teasing in the past. Social anxiety is generalised with major depressive disorder, post traumatic disorder, alcohol use etc. They tend to show emotional and behavioural symptoms like;
~fear of people around them judging
~fear of humiliation and embarrassment
~trouble interacting with people around them
~fear of people nothing that they feel anxious
~avoiding to speak in front of people
~thinking about a situation again and again and feeling embarrassed
~feeling anxious during public interaction
~Expectation of the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation
~fear of being bullied, rejected or ignored
~they shown tantrums when forced to face a social situation
~blaming others for their social failures
Social phobia can interrupt daily life and daily routine, social life, school performance, etc. Children who are shy at a young age tend to have social anxiety in later life. It leads to consistent fear and pressure of social performance and embarrassment, not being able to control the symptoms can lead to frustration, irritability, feeling of hopelessness, isolation leading to depression. Some of the common symptoms that children with social phobia show are sweating, increased heartbeat, hesitant in starting or initiating a conversation. Sometimes a trauma during early childhood or seeing family disputes can trigger anxiety in children in later life.
Children with social anxiety are usually self conscious and have low confidence and low self esteem.. It can be described by three realms; physiological, behavioural and cognitive. Physiological, they show signs such as sweating, flushing, nausea, etc. Behaviorally, they show irritability, crying, sudden outburst,etc. Cognitively, they are concerned with social situations as the most difficult situation. They are the most afraid of performing in-front of people. They make fewer friends and are an underachiever in school and have no social skills. Children with social anxiety disorder are more likely to suffer from depression. They may withdraw themselves from the world and rather stay alone. Children who have a temperament at an early age have high chances of social anxiety in later life( Schwartz et al). Parents play an important role in identifying the problem. Sometimes parents may confuse it with shyness so it stays unidentified for a longer period of time. A shy kid takes a bit longer to adapt with other people around whereas a social phobic child is afraid of the situation. A child suffering from social anxiety and depression if left untreated can face many negative causes such as low self esteem. Hypersensitivity, negative thoughts, poor social skills, substance use and suicide or suicidal attempt.
However social anxiety and depression can be treated if taken care of on time. The treatments include psychotherapy where they learn how to analyse and change their negative thoughts to help gain confidence. CBT is the most effective psychotherapy. In CBT you work on your fear. It can help build confidence for situations one fears the most. There are many other treatments such as medications like antidepressants, beta blockers, etc. To help a child to cope with social anxiety-
- TEACH RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
They can learn a variety of tools for when they feel anxious or overwhelmed in a situation. It is not possible for them to use adaptive techniques when they are dealing with anxiety, so the first step will be to learn how to calm the anxious response.
Deep relaxation to calm the rapid heartbeat and dizziness in a situation. The other technique is progressive muscle relaxation because a child with anxiety tends to tense their muscles, teaching them to relax their muscles and tension starting with their arms.
Children with social anxiety are overwhelmed with negative thoughts that trigger their anxious mind. Teaching them to recognise their negative thoughts and to replace them with positive ones.
-PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
Children with social anxiety tend to avoid every other situation. They avoid situations where there is social involvement that makes it even worse. To overcome this they can learn to practice in front of the mirror several times and watching them later and the parents can try deep breathing techniques in order to calm them.