Social Anxiety is one of the most common kinds of anxiety disorders. At any one time about seven percent of the population are affected. Currently, this equates to an approximate 35,000 adults living in Cornwall.
Just like the name says, social anxiety is a very disabling condition that makes people extremely anxious in ordinary social situations, such as chatting with strangers, talking to a group of people, or eating in front of others. What makes these situations so threatening is the fear that people will think negatively about them, or that they will get too anxious and embarrass themselves.
Now, most people intuitively understand a degree of social anxiety. We have all felt socially awkward sometimes or dreaded the prospect of speaking in public. However, people with social anxiety can experience this level of fear to a crippling degree in everyday social situations.
People with this problem may employ a number of ‘survival strategies’. Usually, this involves a tendency to avoid social situations wherever possible. Or more subtly, they may ‘keep their head down’ in public settings, avoiding eye contact, not speaking unless spoken to, or dampening the anxiety with alcohol. It is likely that you know someone with social anxiety but they keep it so well hidden that you aren’t even aware of it. Or you possibly think they are a little stand-offish or aloof. However, this kind of social avoidance can wreak havoc on the person’s educational and work life, and also their ability to make and sustain friendships. Therefore, many people with social anxiety can also experience depression due to their social isolation. It is a problem that rarely gets better on its own.
Fortunately, this problem does respond to psychological therapy, especially CBT. Cornish residents can refer themselves for NHS funded therapy for social anxiety by registering online - [HERE]