It is summer in Edmonton, and that means it is time for food, fun and festivals. It also means that there are many people staying in their homes locked in by a vicious beast, social anxiety disorder (called SAD for the rest of this blog).
Defining SAD and some statistics: A person struggling with SAD may experience extreme fear in social situations, worry that they are being judged by others, be scared of embarrassing themselves or worried about making mistakes among other worries. Often there are two subtypes, a fear of speaking in front of people (public speaking, groups or being assertive) or more generalized anxiety that can encompass a range of social behaviours such as eating around people, being in large groups, and more. A person experiencing SAD can have extreme distress, with individual symptoms ranging from fidgeting to a racing heart and difficulty breathing. SAD can present itself in children, adolescents and adults, though often SAD develops at a younger age and progresses into adulthood. According to Statistics Canada (2015) SAD is one of the most common anxiety disorders where 8-13% of Canadians will experience it at some point in their life.
How do people deal with SAD: A common coping strategy is to avoid the social situations that create stress, but this often leads to a person feeling incongruent since they want to go out, which can eventually lead to depression. Some people might self-medicate, or use alcohol in the hopes that it will take off the edge of their anxiety and make it easier to be in social situations. These are often short-term coping strategies, and can lead to bigger problems in the long-term.
So what can you do that is healthy and hopefully effective? Read the rest of this entry »