What is social anxiety disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is a pervasive, ongoing fear of any social situation where embarrassment may occur. Whereas it is normal to feel a certain amount of stress in certain social situations, the fear associated with Social Anxiety Disorder can be paralyzing. Teens who have this disorder tend to isolate and avoid social situations. The self-consciousness and fear of embarrassment are so overwhelming that it tends to stay with a teen for weeks as the teen worries about an upcoming social event.

According to Polaris Teen, there are several signs and risk factors that parents can look for in their teen. Teens are in an especially vulnerable position due to their particular age group and their sense of ever changing and evolving identity.

Some risk factors that can make a teen more prone to SAD are:

· Social awkwardness. If your teen is very shy, withdrawn, or does not quite fit in with the crowd, social situations can be especially scary or frustrating.

· Physical or Health Issues. This could be anything from being overweight, having a speech impediment, acne, or a disability of some kind. The list could go on and on. All of these things can make the already awkward teenage years even more so.

· Being bullied. Bullying has become quite commonplace in today’s teen society. Social media has made it even easier because now teens can cyberbully. Any kind of bullying can have a very traumatic long-lasting effect on a teen.

· Parenting styles. There is some reason to believe that overprotective parenting styles prevent teens from learning the social skills necessary to deal with various situations they may find themselves in. As a result, they can have low self-esteem and their confidence in themselves can be very low.

There are several signs that parents can look for in their teens that might indicate SAD:

· A fear of being embarrassed, more than just a typical fear, but one of feeling paralyzed or frozen

· Difficulty interacting in a normal way with others, especially people other than close family or friends

· Difficulty having a conversation with others,

· Worrying about upcoming social situations, more than typical worries

· Fear of being judged by others, more than typical worries about what other people think

· Intense self-criticism after a social event, especially when ruminating thoughts last for days, weeks or months

· Physical symptoms such as stomach ache, nausea, diarrhea, muscle tension, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat, symptoms similar to having panic attacks

· Difficulty making and maintaining friendships, more than typical for this their age and peers

The good news is there is help for teens with Social Anxiety Disorder. Treatment usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. If you suspect that your teen has SAD, do not hesitate to consult your child’s doctor for treatment options.

Our counselors are here to help you. We teach relaxation skills that will likely help you or your teen calm their mind and body. Our counselors will listen and not judge or minimize your fears and worries, rather they will take them seriously and help you end the suffering.

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