Have you ever thought about taking a social anxiety test? Social anxiety can’t be that big of a thing, can it?
If you believe depictions of personal interaction portrayed in the media, you’d be convinced that everyone easily meets new people and has a good time. That’s not reality, however. It’s acting.
While not as prevalent as other forms of anxiety mental health disorders, social anxiety disorder is relatively common. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in the United States, some 7.1 percent of adults, more than 200,000 individuals each year, experience social anxiety.
Recognizing the Signs: Social Anxiety and You
Many people feel awkward entering a crowded room in an unfamiliar setting. This is especially true if they don’t know anyone at the gathering, are attending a meeting or event for the first time, or must participate because of work or other obligations. This is not social anxiety. It’s simply feeling uncomfortable in an unfamiliar environment.
Everyone’s been there at one time or another.
But what about when anxiousness about meeting or being around other people creates profound physical and psychological distress, even paralyzing fear?
Do I Have Social Anxiety?
Here’s where you might believe that social anxiety is the problem. What you’re experiencing goes far beyond feeling shy. It’s an intense fear brought on by being around others in social interaction. If you’re at the point where you’re asking yourself, “Do I have social anxiety?” the answer may be yes.
But how do you know? What are the next steps if you think you have social anxiety?
Common Indicators of Social Anxiety
While every individual reacts to situations in different ways, some common indicators or symptoms characterize social anxiety disorder or social phobia.
Social anxiety disorder symptoms may include the following:
- Heightened anxiety or fear when encountering a social situation — new or routine
- Speaking rapidly, with words coming out in a jumble
- Blushing excessively
- Profuse sweating
- Experiencing palpitations or a feeling of heart flutters
- Blurting out an embarrassing comment and later feeling humiliated because of it
- Being afraid others will judge you
- Feeling extreme discomfort when meeting a new acquaintance or being introduced to someone in a group
- Jitteriness and trembling
- Following an event or activity, feeling the need to pay extremely high attention—like there may be repercussions for your attendance or behavior while there.
Medical Assessment May be Warranted
It’s important to note that some symptoms of social anxiety mimic or may be confused with signs of other medical conditions. Heart palpitations, for example, could be an indicator of heart disease, atrial fibrillation, or something else.
That’s why completing a medical examination with lab tests and questions your doctor asks you is vital. Before proceeding further with a recommendation to a mental health expert for professional evaluation and treatment, the doctor must rule out any underlying physical condition or illness.
Self-Assessment and Seeking Professional Help
If the thought of meeting someone new or feeling pressured to participate in social engagements triggers panic, it may be wise to investigate social anxiety further.
Social Anxiety Quiz
Is social anxiety self-diagnosable? If you’re worried about this issue, take a social anxiety quiz. While not definitive or a diagnosis, this social anxiety test may further motivate you to seek professional help.
Do I Have Social Anxiety?: A Quiz
Answer the following questions honestly and completely. Remember that this social anxiety quiz is a private self-assessment. Avoid judgment or criticism as you assess your feelings and try to pinpoint symptoms or recall situations where you thought, “Do I have social anxiety?”
- Do I have an intense fear of meeting someone new?
- What lengths do I go to so I don’t have to attend parties, social engagements, work activities, or casual encounters?
- Is my fear of social interaction linked to something that happened in the past?
- What is the worst thing that I believe could happen when I feel pressured to meet someone new or be in a large group of people I don’t know?
- Do I fear rejection by others or worry that my actions may offend them?
- Have I ever been humiliated in front of others?
- Do I tend to blurt out socially unacceptable comments when anxious?
- Are my worries unfounded, irrational, and disproportionate to any perceived threat?
- Do my relationships suffer because I don’t want to be around others?
- Have I suffered setbacks in my career because I avoid group interaction or find it difficult to work with others?
- How long does it take for my symptoms to subside following an episode where I experienced extreme anxiety in a social situation?
- Have I ever sought treatment for anxiety?
- In a group setting, do I think others judge me unkindly, thinking I’m anxious, dull, weak, or unlikeable?
- Did I ever take a social anxiety test?
- Do I try to cope with the fear of meeting others by drinking or doing drugs?
- When I must speak in a meeting or do something in front of a group, do I experience panic?
- Do my relationships, home, work, or social life suffer due to my anxiety?
Professional Support for Social Anxiety
Suppose your social anxiety lasts for six months or longer. In addition, the anxiety you feel is intense enough that it interferes with everyday functioning. In that case, it may be wise for you to consider seeing a mental health professional who can offer support and guidance and use various therapies to ease your social anxiety.
Two therapies, among others, may be employed: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. CBT may help you change your beliefs. Exposure therapy can help lessen the impact of the triggers so you no longer have such intense fear or anxiety in social situations.
The treating professional may prescribe medications to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Another benefit of professional treatment is that you’ll receive suggestions on lifestyle changes to improve overall health and how to identify and effectively cope with the emotions and thoughts associated with social anxiety.
Coping Strategies for Managing Social Anxiety
After you’ve taken the social anxiety test and determined that seeking professional help to overcome social anxiety is desirable if you are diagnosed with it, you’ll need several coping strategies to help you manage the condition.
Know your triggers. During therapy, you learned how to identify situations that trigger social anxiety. It’s essential to know what to be on the lookout for so you’re better able to cope with anxious symptoms as they arise.
Practice ways to relax. One highly effective technique to calm anxious feelings is practicing relaxation. Many methods include deep breathing exercises, tai chi, meditation, yoga, guided imagery, music therapy, dance, biofeedback, massage, and progressive muscle relaxation. When you’re relaxed, your heart rate slows, your blood pressure lowers, and the effects of the stress of a social situation decrease. Your confidence in handling stressful, anxiety-promoting situations also gets a boost.
Take time to laugh. Did you know that laughter is tremendously effective in reducing anxiety and stress? It also substantially reduces negative emotional feelings, including anger. When you laugh, you are more receptive to new activities, such as meeting people, engaging in a hobby, or other recreational pursuits involving interacting with others. Sharing laughter creates a bond and may help others regard you differently.
Engage in physical exercise. When you’re fearful of social situations because of the social anxiety you experience, an excellent coping strategy is to do physical activity. When you exercise, you benefit from a flood of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that boost mood and increase positive emotions. Your body and mind get much-needed assistance with regular exercise.
Ask for help from your support system. If there’s an activity you must attend, or you are reluctant to go to a family or other activity even though you want to, ask someone you trust for help. This could be a best friend, a support group member, a co-worker, or someone else. They may be able to accompany you or offer encouragement to cope with the upcoming situation.
Know what you’re feeling. When you are in a social setting and feel anxiety building, recognize the symptoms. Then, get ready to employ coping strategies to help you manage the situation. Focus on what is happening around you and be kind to yourself as you navigate this experience.
Remember, if you repeatedly ask yourself, “Do I have social anxiety?” there may be something to this recurring thought. A social anxiety test and professional assessment may offer relief and treatment that can help you overcome social anxiety. Contact our experts at Restore-Mental Health to learn how our programs may be able to help you with anxiety.