Whether it’s your first day at a new job or you’re planning for a thrilling vacation to an exotic destination for the first time or you have a major surgery scheduled in the near future, it is natural to experience a certain degree of fear and uneasiness that could even cause sweaty palms or a pounding heart at times. But if that fear is so intense that it consumes you, interfering with your abilities to lead a normal and healthy life, it is a sign of trouble. Frequent irrational fear or unjustified phobia about a particular object or situation might as well be another type of mental disorder requiring professional help.
“I felt immensely cut off from my family and friends because I was unable to express what was going on within. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me,” said 21-year-old Tracy (name changed) of Pasadena, while she was speaking to her psychiatrist during one of the community counselling sessions organized by the university where she was studying. She was always a shy girl in school and never even raised her hand to answer a question in class. In fact, streams of sweat flowed down her face whenever the teacher would ask her something. Dreading each day in school, she often stayed away from her other classmates, spending the break time in the library by herself.
Giving a speech in grade 12 in front of teachers and students was no less than a trauma for her. She still remembers how tough it was to speak with a trembling mouth and look into the eyes of the audience. As she grew, even the smallest of things such as going to the supermarket to shop groceries, making a phone call to someone she didn’t know, or traveling on public transport became a nightmare. Avoiding friends, turning down opportunities to watch a movie or staying away from a gathering became her way of life. As a result, she ended up becoming even more lonely and withdrawn and resorting to alcohol to number her mental agony.
One day in the university library, Tracy laid her hands on a medical journal that dealt with social anxiety. She was shocked that she could relate to almost everything in the journal. Tracy later learned that she was one of the millions of Americans who suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called social phobia. The intense fear of being evaluated by others in social situations had taken a heavy toll on her physical and mental well-being as well as self-esteem. Luckily, it was another mental illness which is easily treatable.
Social phobia in America not an illusion
If someone has a tough time enduring everyday experiences, like using a public restroom, interacting with strangers, attending parties or social gatherings, returning items to a store or entering a room in which people are already seated, chances are he or she might be one of the 15 million American adults affected by SAD, says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
SAD or social phobia is an anxiety disorder, in which the person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. The extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged in the mind of an individual suffering from SAD can wreak havoc in his/her life. Typical age for onset of SAD is about 13 years, and people with this disorder may have few or no social or romantic relationships, making them feel powerless, alone or even ashamed of themselves. Signs that an individual is suffering from social phobia are:
- Fear of situations which leads to being judged.
- Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating oneself.
- Concerns about offending someone.
- Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers.
- Fear of physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating or trembling.
- Avoiding activities or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment.
- Avoiding situations where one might become the center of attention.
- Being anxious in anticipation of a feared activity or event.
Journey to recovery
Studies suggest that lack of professional and knowledgeable therapists is the biggest and most relevant problem to overcoming social anxiety. According to ADAA, 36 percent of people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.
Dealing with different types of mental disorders, including SAD, and understanding what causes mental illness can be a daunting task requiring a sensitive approach to ensure the individual seeking professional help does not face discrimination in any way. Many such people experiencing phobias, anxiety or depression often tend to assume that anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications are the only solution. But, very few know that other alternate therapies for mental health, such as exercise, acupuncture, psychotherapy and membership of support groups also go a long way in combating afflictions of the mind.
Above all, an early mental health diagnosis from a reputed and professional mental health services provider is essential to nip the problem in the bud or else they can be immensely devastating. Sovereign Health is one of the leading mental health institutions in the U.S., which provides treatment services for all kinds of mental health disorders.
Despite the availability of several effective mental illness treatment options, the stigma of being branded as a weak person prevents many individuals from overcoming mental health disorders through professional help. Learning how to treat mental health disorders on the same lines as in the case of other chronic diseases – which demand a thorough mental health diagnosis, regular check-ups and monitoring of treatment adherence – increases chances of recovery.
Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California offers a variety of customized mental health treatment programs suited to treat the person holistically. Patients can opt for individual and group psychotherapy, or alternative therapeutic activities to regain control of their lives.
Whether you wish to know how to overcome mental illness, or are looking for mental health treatment centers in California or at a place closer home, we have facilities in the major places in the country. Our residential mental health treatment facilities in California are among the best in the nation. Call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about our effective recovery programs for mental illnesses to treat them at the earliest.
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