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How to overcome social anxiety

Dr. Seema Sehgal, a board-certified Psychiatrist, explains that all of us have a certain degree of anxiety when we are faced in normal situations such as public speaking, during interviews or meeting people for the first time. There are people that are traditionally shy. Social anxiety is a specific disorder where people’s anxiety starts to really escalate even through everyday interactions causing them severe embarrassment and feelings of self-consciousness. They have a fear of being scrutinized, humiliated and criticized by people they are around and so it leads to a real impact on their daily functioning.

According to Dr. Seema, social anxiety disorder develops in the mid to late teens. It is first seen emerging in thirteen to fourteen years old and then it gradually builds up. The age group that will experience it probably the most is between 13 and about 23-24. This is the time of rapid brain growth and so all of the experiences they have whether it is their outside experiences, how they are perceived by the world, what is their own world view all begin to have lasting impressions and they can take these aspects forward into life.

She further explains that those that are affected by social anxiety disorder experience impacts on their work and personal and peer relationships, their ability to interview, speak up in projects and presentations and in order to avoid the embarrassment and fear and humiliation they start to isolate so their world starts to really shrink and sometimes they use mal adaptive mechanisms like substance use to try and manage these really uncomfortable symptoms.