Social Anxiety

A Definition

Shyness, or social anxiety, is now recognised as the third most prevalent psychological disorder as well as the most undiagnosed or misdiagnosed psychological problem.

Mental Health professionals such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists or counsellors routinely miss shyness as the real problem underlying many cases of depression, substance abuse or general anxiety. They treat the SYMPTOMS of shyness, such as depression, using medication or conventional psychotherapy and in the process fail to address the core issue.

Shyness is also the least discussed mental health problem, receiving very little media attention, in spite of the tens of thousands of people suffering from the affliction.

Most people who are chronically shy and socially anxious suffer in silence and do not realise that effective, short-term treatment is available. They usually feel ashamed and embarrassed about their shyness, perhaps blaming themselves for being “weak” or cowardly, and find it difficult to talk about with friends or family. Shy people often hope that with the passage of time they somehow will “grow out of it” or that by sheer willpower they can force themselves to confront and master anxiety-provoking situations.

Sadly, time alone and mere exposure to frightening situations usually do not remedy the problem. More often, a single additional “failure”, even after many successful efforts, only reinforces and deepens their anxiety about interaction – because the underlying problems in thought, bodily reactions and behaviour patterns have not been dealt with.

Over time, many shy people become increasingly disappointed, withdrawn and depressed, and make fewer and fewer efforts to socialise. This then becomes a downward spiral: with fewer and fewer opportunities to interact, the shy person’s social skills, perhaps never well-developed to begin with, become even more rusty. This in turn leads to an ever-increasing likelihood of socially awkward behaviour, with the consequence of even more depression, withdrawal and fear.

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