Social Anxiety Disorder

Paralyzed By Socializing

Social anxiety disorder is a chronic debilitating mental illness that prevents one from socializing in public out of fear of ridicule. It may stem from childhood, a specific type of temperament or even genetics. Usually it has to do with a child’s upbringing and social interactions.

As with anything in life, if bad experiences dominate a child’s upbringing, they will learn to associate them with negative and uncomfortable feelings; it’s called classical conditioning. In Pavlov’s experiment, he brought a dog a piece of steak while ringing a bell, causing the dog to salivate at the sight of the steak.

The dog then learned to associate the sound of a bell with being fed. Pavlov then observed that the dog would salivate when the bell was rung, without the piece of steak present. That’s because the dog’s brain learned to anticipate food with sound. The same occurs in mental illnesses like panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and PTSD.

Children may constantly be bullied or be made fun of for the way they dress, talk or behave. Early social embarrassment in addition to a shy or reserved temperament is the perfect recipe for social anxiety disorder. As children enter adolescence, they become even more self-conscious.

Adolescents who don’t develop social anxiety disorder have learned to adapt by building up their confidence, avoiding negative crowds and finding friends who appreciate them for who they are. These factors help them develop healthy social encounters.

Adolescents who do not adapt to their social surroundings are the ones who may develop social anxiety disorder. They fear going to school or even being in public because they have learned to associate their presence with a negative social outcome. Rather than adapting, it’s as if they are paralyzed in fear of ridicule.

And this is how the disorder develops. The more a person avoids socializing, the more strength the disorder gains; to the point of even developing agoraphobia. To help prevent social anxiety disorder from developing in the first place, children and adolescents need not care what others think about them!

It’s your life! Don’t allow others to terrorize it. You are beautiful just the way you are!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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