Many people see SAD as extreme shyness. It is not. Social Anxiety Disorder can be debilitating. People with SAD live with constant fear of social situations. Some of the ways SAD impacts people’s lives:
SAD at School
As students, it is important to speak up when you have a question or do not understand something the teacher has explained. But for someone with SAD, this is extremely difficult. They might be afraid that their classmates or teachers will think it is a “stupid question” or they will think they are stupid for not understanding. All to often, the person with SAD will sit in class, quietly, trying not to attract any attention. They will avoid asking questions or requesting additional help when needed.
Social Anxiety Disorder can lead to educational problems. Students may fall behind but still not be able to ask for help. They may appear to be uninterested in the work or appear lazy and unmotivated.
SAD at Work
Social Anxiety Disorder may interfere with a person’s job. According to Social Anxiety Disorder.net, people with SAD can have a sporadic work history or have trouble finding a job. They may take jobs where they can avoid intereacting with co-workers or customers. They may not accept jobs where performance evaluations are completed on a regular basis or where they would be required to attend meetings. With the limitations placed on themselves because of Social Anxiety Disorder, sufferers often are underachievers, accepting positions below their level of ability or education in order to avoid social situations in the workplace.
SAD in Daily Life
Just going to the store can be a difficult experience. With SAD, people constantly worry that other people are looking at them and judging them. They might avoid picking up objects at the store if they believe someone will be watching them. They may be embarrassed holding certain items and not pick them up. Some people with SAD may shop late at night, when the store has less people.
Even answering the phone and talking with friends can be hard. People with SAD know their reactions are not reasonable but feel they cannot stop the thoughts. They are afraid that other people will judge how they speak, how they look, how they dress.
In addition, some people with Social Anxiety Disorder have a difficult time writing or eating in front of other people. They may be afraid they will write too slowly or not use proper manners when eating.
SAD in Dating and Marriage
Again, according to SocialAnxietyDisorders.net, people with SAD are less likely to get married or to date. The fear of rejection will stop them from meeting new people or dating. Constantly wondering what the other person thinks about them or the fear of doing or saying something embarrassing in front of other people will cause people with SAD to avoid social situations and to stay alone.
Reaching Out for Help
Asking for help is a difficult first step. Many people with SAD will be embarrassed to talk with a doctor about their disorder. This fear stops many from seeking treatment.
There is help for people that suffer from SAD. Medications can help to relieve the symptoms of extreme anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps people to begin to force themselves into social situations, at first under “safe” situations. But the first step of reaching out for help is the most difficult.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.