Impact of social distancing on social anxiety
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health, particularly for those with existing social anxiety or who are at risk of developing it. Social distancing measures have resulted in a prolonged period of time without being able to engage in meaningful social interactions, leading to feelings of isolation and fear that can worsen existing symptoms. The lack of access to traditional treatment options such as group therapy or support groups has also made managing these conditions more difficult.
Research suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to higher rates of social anxiety disorder diagnoses across all age groups. A survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation found that since the outbreak began, over 75% of people reported feeling lonely and isolated and nearly one third reported feeling anxious or worried. For those with a predisposition to social anxiety, this social distance increased the presence and severity of this disorder.
It is important to remain mindful that social anxiety can be an issue for anyone, regardless of age or background. Those struggling with social anxiety, or worsened social anxiety following COVID 19 stay at home measures, it is important to seek therapy, so that you can get back to living a fulfilling life and engage socially.
Symptoms of social anxiety include:
- Feeling extreme self-consciousness in social situations
- Feeling intense fear of being judged or ridiculed by others
- Avoiding social activities or events
- Having difficulty making conversation or engaging in conversations due to fear of negative judgement
- Experiencing physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, trembling or nausea when in social situations.
Those with social anxiety often retreat and avoid social situations; this can significantly impact work, friendships, and school functioning. If you are experiencing these symptoms it is important to speak to a healthcare professional that specializes in effective treatments for social anxiety.
Therapy for Social Anxiety
CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based treatment for social anxiety. CBT helps people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings that can lead to unhelpful behaviors. It also teaches people how to challenge negative thinking patterns, self-talk, and beliefs that contribute to the condition. Through CBT people are able to develop skills that allow them to better manage their symptoms and engage in healthy activities without the fear associated with Social Anxiety.
Exposure therapy is also an effective treatment for social anxiety. Exposure Therapy helps people gradually become desensitized to social situations that have previously caused fear and distress. Through exposure therapy, individuals learn to change unhelpful thinking, face fears, and begin to engage in social activities without fear and avoidance.
When seeking treatment for Social Anxiety it is important to ensure you have access to a mental health professional who specializes in evidence-based treatments such as CBT and exposure. At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, Florida, our social anxiety specialists provide both in-person and virtual therapy sessions to help individuals learn to manage social anxiety symptoms using evidence-based exposure and CBT therapy. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you overcome social anxiety and start living a fulfilling life.