Afraid to Seek New Friends?

It is normal to feel embarrassed or nervous in front of others from time to time. Many people experience an increase in their pulse, and their hands even sweat when they are with a group of people whom they do not know well. However, under normal circumstances, most people can overcome this fear. However, when a person refuses to talk to strangers entirely or even to attend a social gathering, you might suspect the individual is suffering from Social Phobia.

For many people it is normal to be able to respond to a group of others, make eye contact, or have a conversation with someone whom they may not know well. However, suffering from excessive shyness makes it difficult for an individual to speak or socialize most of the time and will surely have consequences, both in the workplace and in personal life.
Often individuals suffering from social phobia may say phrases such as:

  • “I have a terrible fear of doing or saying something that causes me shame in front of others.”
  • “My fear of being embarrassed causes me to avoid doing things I want to do or talk to people.”
  • “I blush, sweat a lot, tremble or feel I’m going to throw up before and during an event in which I will be with people who I do not know.”
  •  “I stay away from social situations or events in which there is the possibility of having to speak in public.”
  • “I almost always drink alcohol to make those fears go away. “

This condition usually begins in childhood or adolescence. It is very rare to see this disease develop after age 25 or 30. Statistics show that it is much more common in women than in men and that sometimes it can be hereditary. It is also estimated that approximately 5.3 million people suffer from social phobia in the U.S.and its treatment can last many years.

There are several interventions that can help reduce the symptoms of this disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is common. Some mental health providers recommend the use of medications combined with counseling, either individual or group therapy. Group therapy can be very convenient as it can teach the patient social skills to increase and facilitate contact with other people.

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