Most of us will experience varying degrees of social anxiety throughout our lives, and more often than not we’ll chalk it up to simple shyness or momentary lack of enthusiasm for social engagements. Perhaps it’s nerves over a specific occasion or an uncomfortable flare-up of good old fashioned social jitters.
But what do you do when those seemingly innocent symptoms prove more severe and start to have a deeply problematic influence on your life? When is it time to seek the services of a therapist?
What Is Social Anxiety?
Everyone has a different social meter that varies between comfort and discomfort, and social anxiety is often misdiagnosed, especially in children and young adults.
The following symptoms are the most commonly occurring in those with social anxiety, regardless of age:
- Fear of social situations in which you may be judged, scrutinized, or mocked
- Extreme discomfort when eating out, returning items to a store, asking for directions, or running simple errants in public
- Obsessing about whether you will do something embarrassing
- Strong aversion to interacting with people you know
- Avoiding activities or engagements where you may possibly receive unwelcome attention
- Extreme panic or discomfort preceding a social engagement
- Punishing yourself following a social engagement, or critiquing everything you did and said
Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include:
- Increased heart rate
- Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Fast or shaky voice when speaking
People who struggle with social anxiety will often avoid social situations, with more extreme cases leading to a shut-in life (in which one seldom if ever ventures outside their home.) Relationships can be difficult to foster, and one’s work life may also suffer considerably. Negative self-talk and low self-esteem can overrun all other areas of life, leading to a considerable or complete break with society.
Social anxiety often stems from an underlying culprit, including–but not limited to–previous trauma, inherited behavioral traits and family history, change of environment (a new job or residential location), a physical condition that draws attention, or negative experiences from the past that left a lasting impact.
When Is It Time To See A Therapist?
It’s important to seek help for your social anxiety if you feel any of the above factors are greatly hindering your sense of well-being. Perhaps you are suffering in school or being held back from advanced career opportunities, or unable to meet new friends or potential romantic partners. Social anxiety can frequently lead to severe depression if left untreated, as well as substance abuse and reckless behavior with lasting consequences.
A trained professional can help you detect the root cause of your social anxiety, as well as offer simple exercises to maintain and dissolve symptoms when they arise. By understanding the nature of your anxiety, you can, in turn, take control of it.
Is An Online Therapist Right For Me?
Online therapy has enjoyed a significant rise in popularity in recent years, with many turning to the cyber office, rather than brick and mortar one, to get the help they need. Unlike in-person counseling, online therapy allows you to speak with a fully licensed and certified online therapist from the comfort and discretion of your own home–a major plus for those with hectic or erratic schedules, or fear of venturing out.
You’ll be able to select a counselor from the onsite directory, read their credentials and reviews, and schedule a session when you’re ready, at which point you’ll be able to chat in real time with your therapist via computer.
What Are The Benefits Of Online Therapy For My Social Anxiety?
Online therapy is both discrete and affordable, two factors that are often the deciding factor when deciding whether or not to seek professional help. With affordable online therapy, you can be assured you’re receiving top care without the burden of transportation or “hunting” for the right therapist in your town or nearby area.
All counselors are fully licensed and go through a strict vetting process before having their services listed, so you can further rest assured that the help you’re getting is legitimate.
Because social anxiety is punctuated by a painful inability to comfortably function in public or social situations, including one-on-one exchanges, online therapy may be able to put your mind at ease for the simple fact that it all takes place from the security of your own personal space. If the thought of driving to a physical location, possibly with the risk of being seen by your peers, is holding you back from seeking help, online therapy can be a true blessing.
What Should I Show Before Booking An Online Therapy Session?
When seeking the right online therapist, it’s important to explore all your options and find the individual whose credentials and personal philosophies match your own. Thanks to an extensive directory of potential therapists, you can browse all listed professionals and reach out when you believe you’ve found the right one.
Remember, an online therapy session is no different from an onsite consultation in that you will need to honor your appointment at the specified time, or otherwise risk a cancellation fee or missing out on a window of time set aside just for you.
It may also help to keep a notebook on hand to not only record your own thoughts and experiences worth sharing with your therapist but also record what is being said and advised. This will allow you to track your progress, as well as keep valuable information on hand for you to refer to when you need it.
Social anxiety is a common occurrence, and far from untreatable. By taking the first step and seeking the right online assistance, you can be well on your way to leading the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve.