This post has been a long time coming and it’s a subject I’m sick of keeping quiet about. I think it’s time Social Anxiety got a bit of attention as a serious mental illness. We all know anxiety in general affects most people at some point in their lives. But most people don’t know that anxiety breaks down into so many smaller brackets. Social Anxiety is the third most common mental illness in the world today. Unfortunately, it is treated as nothing more than a personality trait. The idea that you’re just shy, or quiet. This is a common misconception and it’s beginning to really grate on me.

Let’s start with the basics. What is Social Anxiety?

Social Anxiety is exactly what it sounds like – the fear of social situations or anxiety triggered by social situations. It is not simply a case of being told to get over it because socialising isn’t that bad. It can go much deeper than simply not liking the idea of socialising. Most people who suffer with social anxiety have a much deeper fear than talking – the fear of being judged, being humiliated and embarrassing themselves, saying something wrong, being laughed at, not fitting in etc.

So what triggers Social Anxiety?

Anything. You may think someone you know is just shy, I mean, they’re confident and loud around you right? They might get a bit quiet around new people but they just need time. That’s what you tell yourself, right? Unlikely. Some people are comfortable around certain people, this doesn’t mean they don’t have social anxiety. Triggers can range from meeting new people, being in large groups, getting attention from people, being observed, public speaking, eye contact – anything you consider to be normal social interaction could be a trigger for someone else.

The next topics, my favourite – sense the sarcasm. What are the symptoms?

Anxiety = panic attacks. Panic attacks = hyperventilating, not being able to breathe. No. Not all the time. People suffer with anxiety differently. Not everyone that is having a panic attack hyperventilates. Sometimes you genuinely might not be able to tell if someone is having one. It is very easy to mask emotional symptoms. Some people might just pull away, isolate themselves and withdraw. This can be a panic attack. Some people may suffer with anxiety attacks over a long period of time, causing disturbances in their sleeping and eating habits. Everyone is different. Don’t dismiss someone who thinks they are suffering just because they’re not showing the tell-all signs that you’re expecting.

Why have I made this post?

Partially to vent. Why do I want to vent? Because it’s healthy to talk about things like this and if you are someone who struggles with talking, sometimes writing is easier.

I personally have spoke to a professional about my own mental health, which I’m not going to go into detail about right now. It’s not something I have really shared with anyone. But Social Anxiety was put forward and I am experiencing it every day and yes, it sucks. It’s easy to pretend it’s just a small struggle, but noone should have to do that. It should be taken as seriously as any other physical illness.

If you’re struggling, talk to someone; a friend, a family member, a stranger. I will link a few websites and helpsites that can be used for people struggling with anxiety of any form, or any emotional, mental issues.

Help & Advice:

www.anxietyuk.org.uk

www.mind.org.uk

www.nopanic.org.uk

www.samaritans.org.uk

www.youngminds.org.uk

http://www.7cups.com

Published by Lucy Scoble