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Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is a condition characterized by a persistent and intense fear of social situations.

People with social phobia experience overwhelming feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, and shame in situations where they are the center of attention or are being evaluated by others.

The fear can be so debilitating that it interferes with the person's daily life, making it difficult for them to work, go to school, or engage in social activities.

Social phobia is a common mental health condition, affecting approximately 7% of the population in the United States. The onset of social phobia usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood, and it can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life.

People with social phobia may experience different levels of anxiety in various social situations. For some, the fear may be limited to specific situations, such as public speaking or attending a party. For others, the fear may be more generalized, and they may feel anxious in almost any social situation.

Social phobia can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the person and the situation. Some common examples include fear of public speaking, fear of using public restrooms, fear of eating in front of others, fear of making phone calls, fear of attending social events, and fear of being the center of attention. The fear can be so intense that it can interfere with daily activities, relationships, and work or school performance. The symptoms of social phobia can be physical, emotional, and behavioral. Physically, people with social phobia may experience rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, blushing, and difficulty breathing or speaking. Emotionally, they may feel intense anxiety, fear, and panic. Behaviorally, they may avoid social situations altogether or endure them with extreme distress. Cognitive symptoms can include negative self-talk, over-analyzing social situations, and the fear of being judged or rejected by others.

What does it feel like to have social phobia?

Imagine having to give a presentation in front of a large audience, and feeling like you are being judged and evaluated at every moment. Your heart rate increases, your palms sweat, and you feel like you are going to pass out. You stumble over your words, and your mind goes blank. You feel like everyone is watching you and noticing every mistake you make. For someone with social phobia, this feeling can be present in almost any social situation, whether it's giving a presentation, meeting new people, or even just going to a party. The fear of being judged or rejected can be so intense that the person may avoid social situations altogether or use alcohol or drugs to cope.

Living with social phobia can be very isolating and frustrating. It can be difficult to explain to others why social situations cause so much anxiety and why it's so hard to "just relax." People with social phobia often feel like they are the only ones with this problem and that others don't understand what they are going through, which can add to the sense of shame and embarrassment.

It can feel like a constant battle with one's own mind, and the fear and anxiety can be all-consuming.

However, it's essential to remember that social phobia is a treatable condition.

Treatment for social phobia may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often effective in helping people with social phobia learn how to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines may also be helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms.

Self-help strategies can also be effective in managing social phobia. These can include mindfulness, exercise, healthy sleep habits, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Joining a support group or seeking social support from friends and family members can also be helpful.

If you think you may have social phobia, it's important to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right treatment, social phobia can be managed, and you can learn to live a more fulfilling and satisfying life, free from the constraints of anxiety and fear. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available. Whilst the treatments above may help reduce symptoms and the impact of social phobia, they do not get to the root of the problem.

Which is a learnt fear of being judged or not feeling good enough.

This normally happens at crucial development stages.

Critical parents, jealous siblings, insecure attachments, strict discipline, lack of affection and love, lower socio-economic levels, unrealistic expectations and the like result in damage to self-esteem.

So if the usual areas of treatment don't help, what else could?

Hypnotherapy. A skilled hypnotherapist can use regression as well as other techniques to work with the subconscious and help change the way one sees themselves. Releasing the shame, guilt and feelings of inadequacy. This will probably require a few sessions. Results vary between individuals.

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