What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Someone with social anxiety disorder might become highly uncomfortable meeting new people, making small talk, or have a fear of public speaking. In these situations, they may experience an intense fear of embarrassment or rejection. It is not the same thing as being shy or introverted. When someone is shy it simply takes them a bit of time to “warm up” to people or “come out of their shell.” When someone is introverted it can be very draining to spend time socializing and engaging with other people; they need to recharge by spending some restorative time alone. When someone has social anxiety disorder, it begins to interfere with their life. How? Avoidance! Someone with social anxiety disorder might stop socializing all together in an attempt to avoid their anxiety and end up restricting their social life even though they value connection.


Managing Social Anxiety Disorder

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps people with social anxiety disorder learn how to be present with their intense fears of embarrassment, judgment, or rejection through skills like mindfulness and acceptance. It is not that the fear goes away, it is still present, but no longer getting in the way. ACT can help you get out of your head, caught up in endless evaluation, and learn how to focus on being present while making connections with other people that will enrich your life!


Resources

You can learn more about social anxiety disorder here. The Social Anxiety Association is another good source of information. You may also be interested in the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Social Anxiety Disorder or in purchasing my book!





If you are interested in learning more or in working with me please go to my homepage to contact me or schedule your free 15-minute phone call.


Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care.  If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist.  If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.

Dr. Carissa Gustafson, Clinical Psychologist Los Angeles
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