Man is a social creature who thrives in the company of others. He has the ability to network and create support structures within his own circle, and can develop an easy camaraderie with those around him. While many people tend to fit this particular outline with relative ease, there are many others who are characteristically filled with dread and relentless nervousness in social environments. They fear group interactions and performance situations. They suffer in silence from a social anxiety disorder that is also known as social phobia.
People with this condition are aware that their anxiety is seriously disproportionate to the cause, but feel helpless to do anything about it. They feel that they are under scrutiny while in the company of others, and experience great trepidation and humiliation in the face of their perceived lack of confidence and social skills. While most people are anxious when they need to meet new people, or when they have to perform publically, they are ultimately able to conquer their fears and get through it. This does not happen in the case of people afflicted with a social anxiety disorder.
Their discomfiture at being in an environment where they may make eye contact with others and have to meet with people for the first time, causes them no end of anxiety. When they have no alternative but to attend social gatherings where they are expected to mingle with those present, it proves agonizing. They keep a low profile and shun undue attention. Thus, their awkwardness and the inability to interact comfortably with colleagues and clients may ultimately impact negatively on their future prospects in the workplace.
Someone who suffers from social phobia will have serious difficulty handling ordinary things like speaking out at meetings, expressing opinions or objections, and entering into conversations with others. Besides, they are not comfortable consuming food or drink in the presence of others and would rather avoid these situations. They realize that their awkwardness is uncalled for, but are unable to rein it in. And as they tend to keep away from social occasions and social interactions, they lack self confidence and sense their failure.
In times of danger the body's biological response is to pump extra adrenaline and other chemicals to the muscles and limbs, to boost the individual's ability to put up a fight or run away. The same reaction comes into play in times of extreme stress. The heart rate and respiration accelerates, vision sharpens and the senses are more alert - the individual is ready for the fight. However, there being no immediate danger within the environment he is in at the time, the individual has no cause to fight or flee. And while this extreme internal body response is in progress, he is actually having a full blown panic attack, while at the same time struggling to behave normally. This only adds to the individual's woes, unless he already has an understanding of the fight or flee concept.
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia, makes life very hard for suffers, preventing them from leading a meaningful existence. They have difficulty seeking employment and are also unable to make friends and build close relationships. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted at the earliest, in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to start taking remedial action. Subsequently, the social phobia can be treated with medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. The latter has been found to be very successful in reducing the distressing symptoms and the sufferer, in following through with the therapy, can expect to enjoy a more fulfilling life.