Social networking not for you?
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we are constantly reminded of our lack of partnership if we are single. And, if we are not, we are put under a different sort of pressure with how we should be declaring our love for our partner in a suitably commercial manner. Either way, there could be a potential social strain coming up.
For some people, this reminder every time we walk past a greetings card shop, or pop into the supermarket, or even go to our local pub or bar, can cause great pressure. And if untreated, can move from making us timid or shy into a more extreme form of social phobia.
Social Phobia was first recognised as a mental health condition in 1980 and some professionals believe it is one of the most under-recognised and under-treated mental health problems of the modern day. “Statistically, only 5% to 10% of people with social phobia in the UK currently get treatment for it”, says Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, Duncan, based in at the Observatory Practice.
“People with social phobia have a belief that everyone knows they are anxious and embarrassed, which in turn makes them feel even more anxious and embarrassed. But this, of course, is not true”, Duncan says.
The symptoms are anxiety-based and range from excessive blushing, breathlessness, stammering, mental blanking, sweating, butterflies in stomach, and heart racing, to a full-blown panic attack.
Duncan has seen a rise in this type of issue in his Hypnotherapy practice. He says: “This extreme condition can have an effect on simple social interactions and cause the sufferer to retreat more-and-more and avoid all social situations and contact, and find ingenious methods and mechanisms, such as alcohol and drugs, to essentially escape from their lives.”
“Situations where people can often experience this type of phobia range from answering the phone to speaking in public, such as in the classroom environment, or a business meeting, communicating with people in authority such as the teacher or the boss, eating in public (so restaurants become no-go zones), or any crowded places, like the shopping centre, or a trip to the cinema or theatre”, Duncan says.
“It’s a cycle that if it goes unbroken, can lead to feelings of severe isolation and depression. When people stop themselves having positive experiences within a social setting, this turns into a fear, and then the more daunting the the thought of interaction becomes and the sufferer finds themselves in a negative pattern spiralling downwards”, Duncan says, “If untreated and unrecognised, it can have devastating effects on self-esteem and self-confidence. It can even prevent the more anxious sufferer from making new friends, asking someone out on a date, and even just being able to send an anonymous Valentine’s Day card.”
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help with re-integrating the sufferer back into social situations in a gentle and incremental way. This is done by starting to manage the anxiety that the sufferer faces by explaining how the brain works in relation to anxiety, and how this anxiety can be managed successfully by working on confidence and self-esteem and helping the client view the social situations and indeed themselves in a more positive way.