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Shyness - A Social Phobia !

September 24, 2012  by: ushakiran  Points: 12   Category: Health  Earning $1.00   Views: 725

For some people shyness goes beyond merely feeling awkward and many of them would rather withdraw from daly life experiences...


Suffering from Social phobia or extreme shyness

We come across thousands of people who seem to be paralyzed by anxiety,embarrassement and extreme shyness in dealing with routine situations .This sometimes gets out of hand and can result in strained relationships,career and also personality traits like depression .There are some who are able to interact well with their colleague and family members, but the moment there are a few strangers around they seem to go to pieces overcome by anxiety so much so that this even manifests itself into physical symptoms like numbness and feeling sick ! Such people are not able to further any relationships simply because they feel tongue tied when they meet strangers.

We see such trait in early years among children , when some kids are uncomfortable mixing and socialising with other kids except those with whom they interact daily.Most of us no doubt do feel shy at some time or the other in our life, but for some shyness poses a persistent and painful problem. However,it is not difficult to cure oneself of this negative personality trait and be normal in your reactions to strangers and also be able to further your socail interactions.

For some people shyness goes beyond merely feeling awkward and many of them would rather withdraw from daly life experiences, like for example :-going to the shop or do some other chore that requires interaction with other people , as also avoid any public event .This is a fairly common mental disorder and psychologists refer to it as Social Anxiety or Social Phobia .Untreated this condition might lead to loneliness,depression and even substance abuse which can become complicated .

Social phobia is more common in women than in men, however it is noted that more men seek help since shyness can have a negative impact on their career and earning.It may also have to do with the general expectations of the society where men are supposed to be more outgoing than women.

A quiz to determine how shy are you?

Taking the following short quiz will help you assess the extent of your shyness.Just write down the points next to your answers and add up at the end..

1, How often do you feel shy ?
a, Once a month (1)
b, Several times a week (2)
c, Several times a day (3)

2, Shyness makes you think others are reacting negatively to what you do and say, is that how you feel ?
a, No (1)
b, Somewhat like that (2)
c, A lot like that(3)

3, I feel shy when I am interacting with someone to whom I am attracted.
c,Never ( 1)

4, Compared with your friends and colleagues, how shy are you ?
a, Much less shy (1)
b,About as shy (2)
c,Much more shy (3)

5, You feel shy when you are interacting with an authoritative figure ..
a, Always (3)
b, Sometimes (b)
c, Never (1)

6, Would you rather sit at home and not go out to social functions?
a, Yes definiitely(3)
b, Many times or sometimes (2)
c, Very rarely (1)

What your score means ? 6-10: slightly shy which is not a problem. 10 -14 : moderately shy which seems to be a frequent barrier in your interactions.
15-18 : Very shy , Shyness is preventing you from reaching your full potential in life
Any score above 12 needs help from a psychiatrist and group counselling.

Having ascertained what your level of shyness is , it is time to take some action which is positive and gives you the required results.Letting things alone does not help,instead may make the situation worse.

Medication and Therapy

Both medcation and therapy can bring about dramatic changes in many shy people and one must remember that the purpose of these strategies is not to redesign a anxiety ridden individual's personality but to help them feel more comfortable with themselves and in their delaings with others.

Group Therapy Sessions

The first and the most helpful of the treatment is the Group Therapy or Group Sessions, this may seem ironic given the individuals awkwardness while mixing with other people.The idea behind the group session is to make them realise that there are others who feel the same way and they are not the only ones .Once the person makes up his or her mind to join a group therapy session it becomes an enjoyable experience that benefits positively.

This is done with a small group of people normally about 6-8 and a therapist who meet at regular intervals fo 12 -14 sessions in all either twice a week or once a week.This has proved to be very helpful in two thirds of the cases .Group sessions offers help to those with moderate shyness and bordering on the very shy group.After the group sessions or even as the sessions progress people get over their shyness within the group and carry this forward in their intercations with others around them. Group therapy is successful in most cases which are borderline .

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Here patients undergo a six month programme which includes role playing where they are expected to practice and react to certain situations in life which otherwise normally they avoid.They gradually become less sensitive and begin to interact more freely .

Cognitive work also teaches how to repalce the social phobias and the negativity it had created , to more positive affirmations and stop blaming themselves and looking for faults within themselves all the time .Shy people tend to be worst critics of themselves whch tends to do more harm than help them get over their shyness.Cognitive behavioral therapy works because most of the people share a common set of thoughts and behavior and are extremely self conscious ,taking a negative view of themselves ,setting impossible goals , all this coupled with fear reactions such as stammering,blushing and a racing heart even when they face ordinary situations in life .

The therapy challenges this somewhat distorted outlook and helps the shy people conquer their anxiety, whereby they are made to partake in created anxiety provoking situations and made to react to them.Shy people are encouraged to make small talk that is not too stressful to them and they are given time to warm up to a social situation which with practice becomes normal for them.

In most cases by the end of the practice sessions the individual is confident enough to strike up a conversation with another individual on his/her own and be able to conquer shyness to a great extent. However , one must remember that a complete personality change is possible only with time and practice in normal situations. Here we also must remember that what is needed is normalising and making the individual react normally to normal situations in life rather than a make over.

Medication as an option

Shyness is in itself not a psychological disorder neither is it a disease that needs medication. But in certain cases shyness can prevent a person from functioning or can be accompnied by depression and extreme anxiety , when medcation seems helpful. Some have a fear of social speaking or stage fear , also meeting people with authority and to conquer this sometimes a mild beta blocker medication is prescribed. Anti - anxiety drugs can relieve such symptoms within minutes and let the individual perform , but the fear of becoming dependant on the drugs is always a possibility.This is however never given to those who have a history of substance abuse, which is a common problem for social phobias who often try to self medicate themselves with alcohol or other drugs .

Anti depressants are prescribed in ceratin cases where the person is terrified to face or try even a group therapy session .The medication helps them to respond better to therapy and also bring down panic attacks .However, it is a temporary measure and can help with the cognitive therapy or work shop by helping the patient remian focused and get adjusted to the sessions.

In extreme cases there are some people who need medication all the time to perform their daily duties. So, we can say that for some people with the anxiety syndrome medcation is a viable choice without which they may fall into deep depression or worse - go into psychological disorder .However, as I said earlier this is done only in extreme cases and other sessions too woule be followed side by side.With any positive result the medication is stopped for sometime to see how thw person is progressing and only if needed is put back on medication again.

Taking the first step is important

The biggest challenge for any individual suffering from anxiety syndrome is finding the courage to ask for help.The moment they do so, half their problem gets solved since it shows a positive attitude to do something that would move forward .
Once they enrole themselves into a group therapy session they normally bceome even more positive and enthusiastic about it since they come to know that there are many oother people who suffer from similar disorder and this in iteslf instils confidence in them to go through the therapy.

Most anxiety ridden individuals think that they are being watched and assessed by others and people can see through their embarrassment and judge them which is not true.No one else can see what is within you except yourself and it is left to you to seek help and conquer your anxiety and shyness.


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