Separate Forms of Social Anxiety

By: Zinn Jeremiah

Social anxiety, or social phobia, is a condition that doesn't necessarily have a great deal of notoriety, bit it's a particularly painful and difficult dysfunction to cope with. Those people who are aware of social anxiety, perhaps in particular those who suffer with it, are likely to define social anxiety in terms of being anxious in and or fearful of social interaction. In truth however, social anxiety can actually be defined as one of three conditions.

What's known as generalized social anxiety is the most common social anxiety form. Generalized social anxiety is a form of social fear or social apprehension that isn't related to any specific social situation. The person with generalized social anxiety feels apprehension in the face of any circumstance where they have the potential to be noticed by others. This is an especially broad possibility: the likelihood of being noticed in a social situation would seem to be a constant. Considering this it's not difficult to see how a person with the generalized form of social anxiety is perpetually fearful and agitated.

Another social anxiety form is referred to as situation specific. Certain types of social anxiety that are situation specific can be quite common. Fear of public speaking for example is a form of situation specific social anxiety that many people share. Some of the types of social anxiety that are situation specific can genuinely interfere with common functioning. Anxiety about using public bathrooms, having to write in public, and eating in public are examples of social anxiety that is situation specific. These are not uncommon activities to undertake, yet some people will go to great lengths to avoid them, sometimes even changing how they live their lives in the process.

The final social anxiety form is often referred to as avoidance disorder. In this most extreme social anxiety form, a person will actually stay away from social settings to avoid the fear and upset social settings cause them. Someone with avoidance disorder can hide themselves away, avoiding any form of social contact except with things that are completely familiar. While this sort of behavior may come across and peculiar and even amusing to some observers, the person with avoidance disorder tends to suffer greatly because, like most people, they covet interpersonal connection but can't move past their fear to achieve it. What results is typically an extremely hurtful way of life.

Though social anxiety in each form it presents is typically quite painful to cope with, social anxiety is a very treatable condition, thankfully so. It's not necessarily easy to overcome social anxiety, but it can absolutely be accomplished. And once social anxiety is overcome, an entire new world opens up for the person whose life was once controlled by fear and apprehension.

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