On Monday, May 31, 2021, the world no.2 ranked tennis player (Naomi Osaka) withdrew from playing at a grand slam (Roland Garros- every tennis players’ dream) citing difficulties to speak with the media; stating that she is not a natural public speaker because of a huge waves of anxiety. She said “anyone that knows me knows that I’m introverted.” “Anyone that has seen me at tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety.”
Social anxiety is a disorder that affects an estimated 4-7% of the world population at any given time. There is a higher frequency in females than males at the ratio of 2:1. However, in clinical samples and young people’s population, there is a pronounced higher preponderance in males most probably due to gender roles expectations and heightened help-seeking behaviors. Social phobia has an onset at between 8 – 15 years, with earlier manifestation of social inhibition and shyness. Indeed, adolescence also brings with it the face of a pattern of fear and avoidance, this includes fear of dating, seeing self as different from others due to changes in appearance to what is the ideal peer picture of the time etc.
There is the illusion that people who are famous and rich are fearless and have everything going for them. Indeed whether rich or poor, we all have things bothering us. This is often based upon our relationships formations at the early stages of life, temperament, culture of developmental environment and genetics/physiological states.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is often recognized as marked fear of social situations, in which the individual may be scrutinized by others. Furthermore, when individuals with this disorder get into social situations they expect to be negatively evaluated. This fear prevents from doing things including but not limited to shirking from presentations, eating/drinking in public, discussing about issues in public, urinating in public when others are there (shy bladder syndrome). Again, almost at all times, social situations provoke fear or anxiety even when competent and able to do the expected tasks optimally. In many instances, the anticipatory anxiety occurs far in advance of the actual event (such as over practicing of speech, worrying about gesture and movements etc.). The culmination of these feelings often times brings the depressive symptoms seen in people with social anxiety disorder such as crying spell, clinging, withdrawal from social situations and many more. When they can’t avoid these events, they endure with intense fear and anxiety thereby confirming their worst fears of flunking such events. The most painful part of this is that the sufferer takes his/her performance judgment “out of proportion”. Typically, the disturbance is expected to be for at least 6months to qualify to be social anxiety – unfortunately most sufferers have this for many years before presenting for any form of intervention.
How can it be helped?
The best way to treat social anxiety is through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) or using CBT and medications (when there are other things which may include being suicidal, insomnia etc.). Most people will require between 12 to 18 sessions, often with the goal of building confidence, learning social skills, coping mechanism and reintegrating self-back into the world.
Things to do at home include, limit the use of substances to increase confidence especially alcohol, participate in social situations within your comfort milieu, eat healthy, sleep well, keep a journal, set small and manageable goals and many more.
Finally, managing social anxiety is not a one stop task and often requires help of a professional even when you’ve done some of the listed things. At Diamondmoor Psychological Consult and Services, we are available to help. Reach us today on 08128276962, 234 22914084 and info@diamondmoor.com.ng