Online sessions now available.Kristian S. Nibe - clinical psychologist and ISTDP practitioner.
What is social anxiety?
The third most common psychological disorder is social anxiety, also referred to as social phobia. This is a perceived fear of social settings where anxiety or embarrassment may occur. Common for people with social anxiety is that they attribute the anxiety to be caused by external factors, like situations or people, rather than understanding that the anxiety is caused by unconscious feelings in themselves.
People with social anxiety believes that the anxiety means that they’re afraid or that they fear someone or something. They don’t understand that anxiety comes from within themselves and that it is a signal from the unconscious which indicates that unconscious feelings are present in their body manifesting itself as anxiety.
Social anxiety is characterized by an increase in bodily tension and worry regarding certain social situations. Typically, these are situations that often are unknown, or where the outcome is uncertain, and where one believes that one is being observed and judged negatively by others.
These situations are perceived as so terrifying that anxiety often is triggered by just thinking about them. One then tries to avoid the anxiety inducing situations at all cost. Exposure to the situation(s) causes almost without exception anxiety, which again may lead to panic attacks if not regulated.
Situations are then either avoided completely or endured with a great amount of discomfort and anxiety. This may go on for a long time, even decades, before the individual seeks help and tries to understand the condition or becomes aware of his feelings in the situation. As a consequence of the uncomfortable anxiety, the person then distracts himself by worrying. These worries usually focus on something that will result in embarrassment or humiliation. They include forgetting what one wants to say, saying something wrong, showing others that one has anxiety, or worrying about trembling, sweating, blushing or stuttering in front of others. These worries can become so intense and uncomfortable that the person becomes passive or paralyzed.
Generalized anxiety disorder.
When anxiety has evolved to encompass most social situation it is referred to as a generalized anxiety disorder. This diagnosis is associated with a more complex symptom development than more specific social anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder often includes depression, social withdrawal, a critical self-image, worries about others negative evaluation, avoidance, isolation, and a high level of self-consciousness.
People with social anxiety are often extremely self-conscious and think about themselves and how they are perceived by others almost continuously. They give more importance to other peoples opinions and perceptions than their own.
Generalized anxiety disorder also occurs at an earlier age than situation specific social anxiety (i.e. fear of public speaking), and it also includes a higher level of neuroticism, shyness in childhood, and introversion.
Specific social anxiety.
For others, their anxiety is tied to a specific social situation, such as eating at a restaurant, talking to strangers, or socializing at parties or events. The most common form of a specific social anxiety is fear of public speaking. Studies show that more people fear this event than they fear their own death.
Other common triggers for social anxiety are; meeting new people, being center of attention, being observed while acting or doing something, performing in front of others, being criticized, talking with/to authority figures, being called upon in class, presentation rounds, dating, flirting, talking on the phone, using public toilets, taking public transportation, being in a crowded place, taking an exam, eating or drinking in public, speaking during meetings, or attending parties or events.
Common for any social anxiety is the worry of being evaluated, judged, ridiculed, or humiliated in public. The fear that others will hold negative views, assume that one is unintelligent, not interesting, or not good enough. Worries that one will not be able to live up to others expectations and that one will not be viewed as competent nourishes the anxiety. People with social anxiety are therefore characterized by that they give other peoples opinions and expectations more importance that they give their own will and discernment. This upholds the anxiety.
Even though at one level one believe that the fear of being judged or evaluated negatively may be exaggerated and irrational, this belief alone does nothing to relieve the level of anxiety. This certainly applies as long as the individual give more importance to other peoples opinions than to ones own standards and principles.
Even though it may feel like you are the only one with social anxiety, the fact is that it is very common. Although a lot of people struggle with this disorder, the good news is that with a strong desire and motivation to understand feelings, action patterns, beliefs, and defense mechanisms, it is possible to overcome social anxiety.
Online consultations available.
Use the contact form below for any inquiries. Please state briefly the nature of your problem, when and how you are available, and how you prefer to conduct payment (Credit Card or PayPal).
Consultations are available for either 45 minutes or 90 minutes, and are conducted by video either through Skype or appear.in. Alternatively I also offer sessions through chat/e-mail.
The price per 45 minute consultation is 160 Euro. The price for a 90 minute consultation is 300 Euro.