According to Mental Health America, 6 million men suffer from depression every year. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s findings on mental health in 2017 also indicates that men die by suicide at a higher rate than women every year. In fact, suicide and depression rank as the leading causes of death for men.
When a man is mentally ill, the effects can be devastating. Besides the threat of taking his life, he might also try harmful coping strategies like drugs and alcohol, which may cause physical health diseases like liver problems, brain damage, and premature death. Every year, 62,000 men die due to alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Because most men who are mentally ill don’t look for help, many cases of mental illnesses in men remain undiagnosed. For the family members and loved ones of such a man, relating with him can be emotionally draining, exhausting, and painful.
However, this doesn’t mean that a mental illness diagnosis provides soothing relief. Many times, it also attracts stress and anxiety for his loved ones. They must learn to communicate in a supportive way while dedicating time to getting him adequate support. Despite this, a diagnosis is still the start of the journey towards healing.
What is Mental health?
When a man’s emotional, psychological, or social life hits bottom and begins to spiral out of his control, it’s appropriate to assume that he needs support with his mental health.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),” Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
Seeking support for mental health challenges doesn’t indicate a lack of will or laziness. In many ways, mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses. Just as more exposure to bacteria doesn’t cure a cold, listening to more adrenaline-pumping speeches won’t heal a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Common Types of Mental Health Challenges Men Face
1. Depression. This condition keeps men feeling low and drained, emotionally and psychologically. When undiagnosed and untreated, depression might trigger worse outcomes like feelings of suicide.
2. Anxiety Disorder. This condition is synonymous with uncontrollable feelings of fear, an emotion that society teaches men to conceal or bury. Yet, many still struggle with different variations of anxiety – social anxiety disorder (SAD) which causes intense fear in social situations, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition characterized by the desire to repeat a series of habits to feel safe.
3. Substance Abuse or Dependence. Sometimes, substance abuse is portrayed in culture and media as “a normal way for men to deal with pain and frustration.” But using drugs or any substance unhealthily is a symptom of deeper mental health issues.
4. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD is “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma… Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.”
Warning Signs that a Man Is Mentally Ill
- An obsessive desire to use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with trauma.
- A persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or self-hate.
- Having high levels of irritability and anger.
- Inability to recover from trauma.
- Constantly thinking about suicide.
- High levels of social anxiety.
What Men With Mental Health Challenges Should Do
- Consult a mental health therapist. A professional will tell if the symptoms you’re facing indicate a mental illness and what steps you should take afterward.
- Join a support group consisting of members who have experienced mental illness. Depending on your schedule, location and preference, these groups can be in-person or virtual. Your group members can help you stand firm in a society where mental illness is stigmatized.
- Open up to friends who are knowledgeable about mental health and want the best for you.
- Build a network of friends and acquaintances whose expectations of masculinity don’t match toxic masculine norms and patriarchal standards.
- Start living a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, avoid unhealthy food and get the recommended amount of sleep. Avoid the company of toxic people and trolls, both online and in person.
When a loved one’s illness is diagnosed as a mental condition, it’s normal to feel worried. But there’s a bright light – recovery is possible if there’s adequate support. Here’s how to help:
- Learn more about mental health. After a few minutes of studying, from blogs like this or through a therapist, you’ll be able to impact their lives more positively.
- Be observant. Watch out for mood changes.
- If possible, offer to help them find a therapist and support groups.
- Be positive at all times. Many who struggle with mental illnesses already have feelings of anxiety and sadness. Avoid saying or doing anything that can dampen their mood.
- Stay healthy. You can’t offer much help if you’re not emotionally or psychologically healthy.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, it may be time to reach out for help. Contact us to schedule your first session.
Few things are worse than a suicide loss. Many survivors face long bouts of compounded grief, anxiety, and shame that can last for many years.
If the deceased is a child, they may worry about their parental abilities or the perceived lack of it; and if it contributed to their child’s suicide.
As an example, let’s consider Dale’s story (which we found in the comment section of this article).
Dale’s only son took his life when he was 16. The boy had been the center of a parental rights battle when he was only a few months old. His father won the case but celebrations were short-lived.
When the boy was five, he started showing signs of emotional distress. And at 10, he became depressed.
“We went (sic) to many hospitals across the state and saw (sic) so many counselors and psychiatrists, and (sic) tried all kinds of family counseling. I loved my boy.” Dale wrote in the comment section.
Eventually, the boy took his life.
“When the Nurses asked if I had friends to call, I broke down. I realized there was no one. He was my best friend… I am struggling every day… Please help me.” Dale added.
Although there was no indication that the custody battle contributed to the tragedy, it’s not far-fetched to imagine Dale making the connection.
Indeed, many survivors blame themselves for their child’s suicide. If they’re religious, they might accuse themselves of leading the child to eternal damnation. It could happen to anyone, including you.
Can Time Heal this Hurt?
Some families think that keeping mum about a loved one’s suicide is the way forward. This idea is the leftover of an era where mental health and suicide were stigmatized in the media and among health professionals. But as time has shown, tactics like this are unhelpful and dangerous.
Mariel is the granddaughter of famed novelist Ernest Hemingway who killed himself in 1961. It wasn’t the first suicide in the Hemingway family, and it wouldn’t be the last. Thirty-three years earlier, the elder Hemingway had also died of suicide. There was a problem but little information on how to solve it.
As Mariel notes, her family concealed their struggles with mental health problems and suicides from her while she was a child. When one of her sisters was institutionalized due to schizophrenia, they told Mariel that she was in college.
Eventually, Mariel’s older sister died of a suicidal drug overdose in 1996. Concealing the issue hadn’t solved the problem. Instead, it handicapped Mariel and her siblings, making them unable to deal with the overwhelming pain that a loved one’s suicide can leave behind.
Mariel says she eventually found some peace when she visited the Dalai Lama at 45. Today, she’s a mental health advocate.
Those who take a divergent route from Mariel’s by bottling their emotions and expecting time to heal their wounds are at risk of the following:
- Depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Compounded grief.
- Inability to pursue meaningful work.
- Blinding anger and confusion.
- Destruction of family relationships.
- Loss of desire to keep living.
8 Ways To Heal the PAIN Caused By A Loved One’s Suicide
1. Don’t use negative coping strategies like drugs or alcohol to deal with the pain. You can only get a temporary or false sense of relief. Instead, prioritize self-care.
2. Consult a psychologist specializing in depression, addiction, and mental health. While some family members and friends may want to support you, most won’t know how to. Even family members who have survived a suicide loss aren’t equipped to help you through this. You need a licensed psychologist.
3. Grieve without feeling shame. Don’t be boxed into societal and cultural expectations of how you’re supposed to mourn. No one truly understands your relationship with your loved one so they can’t tell you how to mourn.
4. Choose your support system wisely. Distance yourself from any family member, friend, or religious colleague who says, “There are so many other people who have it worse.” or “That was a selfish act.” While some may bear no ill intent when using such words, the impact will remain the same: reopening of emotional scars. That’s why you’ll need support from people who’re not just willing to help but are also knowledgeable on suicide loss.
5. Join a support group. Ideally, this group should comprise others who’ve also lost a loved one to suicide. Meeting and sharing experiences with others can help you find the strength and wisdom you need to navigate the pain.
6. Reduce your time on social media. Not everyone on social media understands what you’re facing. Some may condemn you for being a bad parent while others may condemn your loved one for taking his life. You should regulate your use of social media and limit participation to closed groups.
7. Express your pain through art. You can write a journal about your feelings, fears, and thoughts or a poem celebrating your loved one’s life. You can find healing by channeling your pain and frustrations into something positive. Learn about art therapy here.
8. Volunteer to help others. By sharing your experiences and knowledge with others, you can rekindle the motivation to live and impact the world positively.
Surviving the suicide of a loved one may feel like an impossible hill to climb but it’s doable. With support from the right people, you can still live your best life yet. Contact us to get help from licensed psychologists who can help you through this period.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly (and humorously) abbreviated as SAD, is a mood disorder characterized by spikes in sadness occurring around the same time every year. The disorder is titled as such due to the sadness typically coming around with the changing of the seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder is often brushed off as “the winter blues” or “being a bit more tired when it’s cold”. However, this condition can worsen over time and symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
The phenomenon of sadness that occurs with the changing of the seasons is incredibly common in both population and frequency. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world deal with the fluctuation of emotions in accordance with the seasons every year. Upon realizing the issue was seasonal and recurring, doctors termed it Seasonal Affective Disorder a few decades ago. Most often, this disorder affects people in climates that bear four distinct seasons. People living in temperate climates that experience sharp drops in temperature and light during winter identify lingering feelings of sadness, fatigue and social withdrawal. These feelings tend to persist until the spring when the cold breaks for the year or until the person seeks treatment for these symptoms.
Seasonal affective disorder manifests as depression during winter most often, with these symptoms being alleviated with the blooming of spring in the person’s environment. Since this disorder is dependent on the changing of the seasons, the symptoms tend to ebb and flow mirroring the natural elapsing of the seasons. With the depressed mood and actions typically affecting people in the winter, the beginning of spring brings more energy as well as improvements in mood. Most people affected by winter depression often spend the coldest months waiting for the warmth and sunlight of spring to return. Even without treatment, the absence of the extreme cold and darkness of winter typically helps to alleviate symptoms.
However, Seasonal Affective Disorder does not always follow this pattern of sadness in winter with joy returning in the spring. While most people suffering from this illness recognise depressive symptoms in the colder parts of the year, there are also people who are seasonally afflicted with marked declines in mood and energy during warmer months. While winter depression offers a clear correlation between oppressive weather conditions and downwards trends in mood and energy, Seasonal Affective Disorder in warmer months is often a bit harder for people to understand. Symptoms of depression in the winter can often look like listlessness, increasing fatigue and sluggish behaviour in patterns similar to those observed in animals that hibernate. Conversely, symptoms of depression during spring and summer can look like insomnia, irritability, a lack of appetite and restlessness.
Doctors are still unsure about what causes symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder in the warmer seasons of the year but the foremost theories give precedence to the longer days and the constant light and warmth negatively affecting people that are sensitive to these weather conditions because of pre-existing health issues or other comorbid mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. As it exists, however, there are ways that people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder in warmer months can alleviate the worst of their symptoms. This often looks like altering their routine to get things done when they have more energy (for example, following a nocturnal pattern); it may also look like people setting reminders to eat and taking sleep aids (melatonin or a prescribed sedative) to ensure they get enough rest.
Tips for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder are often similar regardless of the afflicted season. These can include:
● Seeing a mental health professional – People often neglect to take their symptoms of SAD to a doctor since they are used to simply waiting for the sadness and fatigue to pass. However, trained professionals see this disorder frequently and are equipped to help.
● Setting alarms and reminders to help maintain routine – Having reminders to eat, drink water and rest can help immensely towards coping with SAD. The maintenance of a routine even in the face of an unfriendly season is essential for coping through undesirable symptoms.
● Opening up about suffering to loved ones – Much like any other mood disorder or mental health crisis, SAD can often feel like a burden to bear alone. Talking to someone, whether it be a loved one or someone afflicted with the same condition, can offer insights as to the frequency of this disorder and remind the person suffering that SAD is not only common, but very treatable.
Whether healing looks like getting a sun lamp in the winter or sleeping through the hottest hours of the day during the summer, Seasonal Affective Disorder is fixable with the right coping skills. Contact us to discuss the best strategy for your ongoing mental wellbeing.
When most people hear the word hygiene, they tend to think of taking regular showers and keeping their surroundings clean and in order. When the term is paired with sleep, however, people often say they were unaware of hygienic standards for sleep. This is probably because people don’t consider sleep as a metric of health. Unfortunately, sleep is far more important and susceptible to misaligned patterns than we may think. Sleep hygiene is a combination of behavioral and environmental patterns that address repeated or chronic instances of poor sleep. These undesirable sleep patterns can look like insomnia or hypersomnia and there are different methods of adjustment for each. These can and should be looked at separately in order to effectively address treatment options for each.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a pattern of disordered sleep that is identified by marked trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the cycle. This difficulty sleeping can be either transient, acute or chronic. Transient insomnia lasts anywhere from one night to four weeks. Acute insomnia lasts anywhere from two to four weeks and is identified by a return to regular sleep. If the symptoms persist for longer than two months at a time, it becomes identified as chronic insomnia.
Along with little amounts of sleep and poor quality of sleep, additional symptoms of insomnia include daytime fatigue, forgetfulness and irritability as well as upward or downward trends in eating. All types of insomnia, from transient to chronic, have the propensity to bear similar root causes. These can include recent stress, chronic anxiety and/or depression, ADHD nighttime environments that are not conducive to good sleep as well as personal life habits like substance use or an unstable work-life balance.
What is Hypersomnia?
Conversely, hypersomnia refers to another kind of disordered sleep. Hypersomnia is the term used to discuss excessive daytime sleepiness or an excess of time spent sleeping. People dealing with hypersomnia have a hard time staying awake through obligations and activities. They may experience daytime fatigue that feels insurmountable, even while sleeping thoroughly at night. Symptoms of hypersomnia include a lack of energy to persist through the day, falling asleep at inappropriate times (such as during work or while driving) and excessive tiredness, all while getting adequate or extensive amounts of sleep at night.
Hypersomnia can be caused by prolonged use of certain substances, mood disorders (like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder) as well as it can be a response to acute stress or depression. The metric that ties these symptoms and causes together in order to identify hypersomnia is the acknowledgment of regular to excessive amounts of sleep at night that offer no reprieve from fatigue. Excessive drowsiness can also be a response to acute sleep deprivation in a table of need and supply commonly referred to as sleep debt.
With the human brain and body needing a minimum of six hours of sleep every night for optimal function, there are consequences for brain function if this minimum is not met once, let alone repeatedly. If someone repeatedly gets insufficient sleep, they enter what is known as sleep debt wherein their inadequate amounts of rest begin to affect their daily ability to function. Many people respond to instances of sleep debt with excessive sleeping to treat the fatigue they are experiencing as a result of inadequate sleep.
With the recognition of resultant issues like sleep debt, it becomes clear how insomnia and hypersomnia can be connected and interrelated. Transient or acute insomnia can result in hypersomnia as the body tries to acquire the amount of rest necessary for function. However, sleep debt is likely to increase if the body gets into alternating patterns of insufficient and excessive sleep. The consideration of sleep as a necessary element of health becomes evident when you consider how overall function is affected by both insomnia and hypersomnia. Regarding healthy sleep patterns as an inextricable part of self care becomes essential for the general health of the brain and body. Regulating sleep patterns is a very important part of overall function and this can be done by cultivating good sleep hygiene habits.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
● Limiting nighttime screen time – Doctors recommend relinquishing screens for brain health at least thirty minutes before one intends to fall asleep. The lack of stimulation as well as the lack of bright screen lights can help the brain to wind down in preparation for sleep.
● Eating properly and at regular times – Acknowledging and responding to the body’s hunger cues in ideal intervals can help to contribute to healthy sleep patterns by following suggested digestive times. Eating should stop for the day at least an hour before one intends to fall asleep so digestion can end before sleep therefore not interrupting the sleep cycle.
● Seeing a professional – If symptoms of insomnia or hypersomnia persist even with the changing of individual life patterns, it may be time to see a doctor. Insomnia is often treated with anti-anxiety medication or prescribed sedatives that act as a sleep aid. Hypersomnia can also be treated with antidepressants or prescribed stimulants for energy throughout the day.
While poor sleep hygiene is extremely common, it can also have long-term negative impacts on brain and body health. If you find that you are sleeping too much or too little, it is essential to try to stick to routine patterns of sleep and waking in order to avoid falling into dangerous patterns of insomnia or hypersomnia. Help is possible and rest can be acquired.
When you’re ready to take the next step, contact us to schedule your first session.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is sometimes called winter depression. This type of depression typically creeps in during the cold and dark winter months. Symptoms of SAD are quite similar to those associated with major depression. The effects of SAD include feeling depressed for a prolonged period of time, low energy and motivation, feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest in your favorite activities. Seasonal affective disorder may affect your eating habits, which in turn leads to changes in weight. Sleep is also affected, with some experiencing insomnia (lack of sleep) and others experiencing hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
Seasonal Affective Disorder During COVID-19
As you can imagine, the symptoms of SAD are exacerbated while living through a global pandemic. If you’ve been feeling especially depressed recently, you’re not alone. Millions of people across the world are currently coping with increased feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and fear.
The pandemic is far from over. COVID-19 can worsen the effects of SAD in a number of ways. Many of us are still unable to have the level of social interaction that we may have grown accustomed to pre-pandemic. Prolonged social isolation will lead to worsening symptoms of depression and feelings of hopelessness. Additionally, the pandemic has caused so much trauma – deaths, loss of jobs, loss of home, loss of relationships. These stressors are sure to have an impact on your mental health. All of this is coinciding with the holiday season, which can be an emotionally triggering time for many people. With all of these variables happening simultaneously,
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder shows itself in many ways. Common signs and symptoms include oversleeping and a change in your eating habits. Many people experience increased cravings for carbs or sweets. Because of this weight gain is another common side effect of SAD.
Those experiencing SAD will feel down for most of the day, on an almost daily basis. It’s common to lose interest in activities you typically and to feel sluggish or fatigued. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt or shame may pop up during this time of year. You may have difficulty concentrating, which can impact your performance at work or in your relationships. Some people will experience suicidal ideation as a result of SAD.
Tips for coping with SAD During COVID-19
Self-Care Is a Must
During a long and dreary winter, the days tend to bleed into each other and you may find yourself neglecting self-care tasks. Be sure to keep up with your hygiene routines, stay hydrated, eat healthy foods and prioritize getting a good night’s sleep. Many people are more prone to illnesses during this time, so take extra care of your physical health.
Beyond that, you should also make time for those ‘extra’ self-care activities that just make you feel good. Whether it’s a bubble bath, time with a good book or cooking a favorite meal, you can help manage SAD by doing things that you enjoy. This is known as behavioral activation, and it’s an important element of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Move Your Body
Exercise benefits both our physical and mental health. During the winter months, it can be hard to find the motivation to get moving. But by staying active, you’re helping to reduce the effects of SAD not only by releasing endorphins, but also due to behavioral activation, which we mentioned earlier.
With the right gear, you can go walking or running outside during the colder months. Consider investing in a few pieces of winter exercise wear to encourage yourself to get moving. If you prefer to work out indoors and have access to exercise equipment, the treadmill and stationary bike are great options. If you don’t have access to equipment, there are endless apps, videos and websites that can help you to workout without having to leave your living room.
Give Light Therapy a Try
Light therapy is commonly recommended for treating seasonal affective disorder. During light therapy, you are exposed to artificial light that mimics natural outdoor light. Research shows that exposure to light release a chemical in the brain that lifts your mood and eases the effect of SAD. Light therapy lamps are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased online. Try using the lamp within the first hour of waking up in the morning.
Practice Mindfulness Daily
Mindfulness has been proven to be effective in managing the symptoms of SAD. Mindfulness meditation gives you a moment to be still and calm and to notice our thoughts in a clear and non-judgmental way. We often move through life so quickly that we rarely stop to notice our thinking patterns or negative self-talk.
Meditation isn’t the only way to practice mindfulness. You can incorporate mindfulness into your days in simple, ways. When eating a meal or drinking a cup of tea, try to do it more mindfully. On your next walk, you can be more mindful by making the effort to observe and appreciate your environment.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
If you’ve been feeling down for a prolonged period of time, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Let your loved ones know what you’ve been experiencing. Your support system can be extremely beneficial in helping you to manage the symptoms of SAD. Having a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on go a very long way.
Are you able to get help with tasks like cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning and laundry? For many people experiencing depression, these tasks are incredibly difficult to do. Are you able to get help from a partner, friend or family member? If you have the means, consider delegating these tasks to a grocery delivery service or laundry service.
If your symptoms have been present for a prolonged period, it’s worth considering professional help. By working with a therapist, you’re taking a big step towards managing, reducing and even eliminating the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be an effective method of treating SAD because it teaches you to change the way you think.
The clinicians at Flourish Psychology are trained and qualified in aa number of treatment modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Contact us to schedule your first session.
While many people are looking forward to a summer of outings, gatherings and socializing, others may be experiencing some social anxiety at the thought of heading back out into the world. Due to COVID-19, most of us were indoors for the greater part of 2020 and 2021. But as vaccination rates continue to increase, governments are relaxing restrictions and businesses are beginning to reopen to the public. Though we are still being cautious, many people are now able to visit restaurants, bars, gyms and sports venues after more than a year of lockdowns.
While some are excited at the prospect of life going “back to normal” and being able to visit friends, attend events and socialize, others may feel reluctant about heading back out into the world after so much time at home. This reluctance may be because of concerns about the pandemic itself, or you may have gotten so accustomed to life at home that going out now feels strange.
For others, the prospect of being invited to gatherings and events brings on a feeling of anxiety due to the social expectations. If these feelings of fear and anxiety start to affect your ability to function in your daily life, you may be dealing with social anxiety disorder.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is a common mental health condition that affects more than 15 million Americans. Though many people develop it in adolescence, it can easily continue to affect you in adulthood if not properly addressed.
Social anxiety disorder is an intense and often debilitating fear of being judged or rejected in a social setting or a performance-based scenario. People dealing with social phobia may feel anxious about being seen in public or having to socialize with others. Common thoughts include a fear of being perceived as awkward, boring or stupid to peers or even strangers. As a result of these fears, you may avoid social settings such as dates, parties or dinners with friends or colleagues. For some people, social anxiety extends into work-related settings and can affect your ability to perform in job interviews, performance evaluations, presentations or meetings. For others, social anxiety can affect their ability to go to the gym or go for a run outside, for fear of being watched or judged by others.
When symptoms persist for at least six months and affect your daily life and activities, it may be time to speak to a mental health professional to address the symptoms.
Is social anxiety the same as shyness?
Most people will experience shyness at some point in their lives and it’s easy to conflate this with social anxiety because they can be quite similar. Shyness is very common in childhood and adolescence as we develop social skills and become more comfortable with our bodies and ourselves. By adulthood, most people would have outgrown this shyness or developed coping strategies to enable them to push through the shyness and form meaningful relationships with the people around them.
Social anxiety is characterized by intense and extreme symptoms that can impair your ability to function in your daily life. People with social anxiety often go as far as avoiding social situations altogether, causing them to miss out on important opportunities for personal or professional growth. Those with social anxiety disorder may lose sleep due to their intense feelings about an upcoming social situation and often experience physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath or sweating.
If you are isolating yourself on a consistent basis due to fear or anxiety, or if the anxiety is preventing you from living the life you want, you may be dealing with a disorder, as opposed to just shyness.
What are the signs/symptoms of social anxiety disorder?
Social anxiety disorder often manifests in both physical and psychological symptoms. When placed in a social setting, you may begin blushing, sweating or may experience an increased heart rate. Other common physical symptoms include clammy palms, nausea and an inability to project your voice.
Your mind may begin racing, or it may go completely blank. Social anxiety can also result in feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness or insecurity. You may be overly critical of the things you say and do and how these things will be perceived by others. When your fears and feelings of anxiety cause you to avoid social activities on a regular basis, this is one of the clearest signs of social anxiety disorder.
During a screening for social phobia, your clinician may ask questions such as:
- Do you have an extreme fear of looking silly or awkward to others?
- Do you avoid activities where you might be the center of attention?
- Is it difficult for you to relax in social settings?
- Do you avoid situations that require you to be sociable?
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder
The good news is that treatment for social anxiety disorder is available and effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular treatment options due to its short treatment time and effectiveness. CBT teaches you to challenge the racing thoughts that cause you to become anxious in social settings. For example, you can learn to realize that at the gym, people are too focused on their own workout and body to be judging you. As you learn to reframe your thinking, you can slowly become more comfortable in these settings.
Exposure therapy is another effective treatment option for social anxiety. This is when you gradually work yourself up to the situations you fear the most by starting out with less challenging situations. For example, you can start by eating alone in public to teach yourself that nobody is watching or judging you as you eat. As you become more comfortable, you can work your way up to being able to go out with a friend to eat and then a small group.
Based on your unique challenges, a mental health professional will be able to work with you to find the best treatment plan. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology are trained to help treat a variety of mental health challenges, including social anxiety disorder. Schedule your first session with a therapist who can help you to live your best social life.