Mental health is very present in the current context, both in the expatriate community and in the general population. At the beginning of our blog, we talked about anxiety and depression, some mental disorders that are often difficult to live with daily. When this anxiety turns into an excessive fear and changes our relationships with others, we define it as social phobia – or social anxiety. As with people who are prone to depression, it is not easy for phobic people to talk about it with others because it forces them to express their terrible suffering with words. Moreover, a social phobia does not heal on its own, quite the contrary.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of social phobia
Just like anxiety, social phobia results in disabling anxiety and an inability to reason. There is no single cause of social phobia, it results from a combination of several factors. These ones can be environmental: verbal or physical aggression, a humiliating situation, a traumatic experience, etc. Obviously, the causal link between these factors and the situation the person is currently experiencing is not always obvious. This may lead some of us to wonder whether there is a predisposition to become phobic. It seems that shy, hypersensitive and introverted people may be more vulnerable and therefore prone to social phobia. Genetic factors may also play a role, as the anxiety disorder may run in the same family.
What are the symptoms of social phobia?
Most visible symptoms are feelings of heat, redness, hyperventilation, panic attacks, sweating and trembling. They can be accompanied by difficulty sleeping, chronic stress, etc. Some people also develop very painful stomach and muscle aches. Social anxiety can therefore lead the person suffering from it to act excessively and impulsively, which isolates them even more from others.
When does the anxiety disorder appear?
Social anxiety can occur at any stage of life, sometimes as early as childhood. However, most psychologists agree that adolescents and young adults are particularly affected by this form of anxiety. Logically, it is at this age when we are confronted with social situations on our own, without the intervention of parental figures, and when we need to assert ourselves.
Social phobia during confinement
2020 just ended and has already left its mark on our daily way of living, and this has made some people more fragile than others. A recent French study has shown that the effects of confinement and restrictions related to Covid-19 have been significant for people suffering from anxiety disorders. An aggravating effect which is caused both by fear of the virus and leads to even greater social phobia. Staying at home has become the easy way to protect oneself from the disease. It is therefore understandable that, beyond the loss of reference points and incessant changes, it is the feeling of powerlessness that reduces some people to wanting to protect themselves.
For those who find isolation and repetitive lockdown difficult to live with, it is useful to remember that the current context can also be an opportunity to refocus on oneself, on one’s loved ones, and to devote time to essential things that are sometimes forgotten for lack of time. So, in order not to be overwhelmed by the flow of information which can be distressing, it is advisable to limit access to the news. only from time to time. It is also very important to always stay in touch with your family and friends, as they will be available to help you. Finally, don’t forget that the current context can evolve in a positive way, and that you will be totally able to adapt to a return to a “normal” life, just give yourself some time.