Every mental health disorder \u2013 from ADHD to paranoid schizophrenia \u2013 causes problems in the lives of those who suffer from it.\u00a0 Social anxiety disorder \u2013 also known as \u201csocial phobia\u201d \u2013 is no different.\u00a0 Due to the nature of the disorder, which often includes significant shyness and debilitating fear in all or certain types of social situations, social anxiety disorder can be particularly disruptive.\u00a0 In fact, if left untreated, the consequences of this disorder can severely impact every area of your life, leaving you with the feeling that your life is ruined. You may ask yourself, is social anxiety disorder ruining your life?\r\n\r\nFollowing are several serious complications that can stem from social anxiety disorder:\r\nIsolation\/difficulty making friends\r\nRemember the shy kid in grade school?\u00a0 You know, the one that everyone picked on or made fun of because she was really quiet, awkward, and easily embarrassed.\u00a0 Social phobia makes many \u2013 if not most \u2013 social interactions very uncomfortable.\u00a0 The mere thought of meeting new people, being the focus of attention, or speaking in front of others triggers significant anxiety.\u00a0 As a result, like most people with social anxiety, you withdraw and isolate.\u00a0 You become the loner, even though you long for close connections with others.\r\n\r\nWhen you do take a risk, the anxiety often undermines your efforts.\u00a0 Clammy hands and blushing give away the nervousness and uncertainty you so desperately want to hide.\u00a0 Others feel uncomfortable because you feel so uncomfortable and awkward.\u00a0 The interaction that may have led to a new friendship instead becomes another painful, embarrassing moment forever etched in your memory. It\u2019s no surprise that you eventually stop trying, resigning yourself to the belief that being alone is just so much easier. But the emotional pain and longing cuts deep.\r\nDamaged self-esteem\r\nWhile it could be argued that someone with social anxiety disorder never had high self-esteem to begin with, suffering from the disorder itself also leads to very low self-esteem.\u00a0 After all, it\u2019s hard to feel good about yourself if you never reach your potential in life, have a really hard time making friends, and essentially feel afraid of just about everyone around you.\r\n\r\nEach humiliating or embarrassing interaction (at least from your standpoint) just reinforces the belief that you\u2019re inadequate, unworthy, and\/or seriously flawed.\u00a0 As you go through life, this belief becomes even more deeply ingrained because you have a long history of \u201cevidence\u201d to back it up. Catch 22. You end up asking the age-old question: is social anxiety disorder ruining your life?\r\n\u201cUnderachiever\u201d status\r\nYou may have all the intelligence and talent needed to reach your goals, but you\u2019re constantly held back by your social anxiety.\u00a0 Maybe you really wanted that promotion, but were too scared to even let your boss know that you were interested \u2013 so you were passed over for someone with the confidence and assertiveness you lack.\u00a0 Perhaps you love playing the guitar, singing, or dancing \u2013 but the thought of performing in front of others keeps you paralyzed with fear, so you never try.\r\n\r\nYou have so many dreams \u2013 but they all require you to put yourself out there \u00a0\u2013 and that\u2019s just too terrifying.\u00a0 So, you choose the path of least resistance \u2013 the easy road (or so it seems) \u2013 and give others the impression that you\u2019re an unmotivated person with zero ambition.\u00a0 The classic underachiever\u2026\r\nHarsh inner dialogue \r\nIf you\u2019re like most people with social phobia, your internal world can get pretty ugly.\u00a0 Self-deprecating thoughts (e.g. \u201cWhy can\u2019t I be like everyone else?\u201d, \u201cWhy didn\u2019t I speak up at work today?\u201d, or \u201cWhy am I such a loser??!\u201d) run rampant through your mind, and the mental self-flagellation is brutal.\u00a0\u00a0 You\u2019re your own worst enemy.\u00a0 Sadly, you find yourself believing the thoughts, which only serve to make you feel more ashamed, uncomfortable, and afraid in future situations.\u00a0 These are the thoughts that fuel your low self-esteem.\r\nImpaired social skills\r\nA significant part of developing good social skills comes from interacting with others.\u00a0 We learn and make changes based on the feedback (or rewards\/consequences) we receive.\u00a0 For example, when we act appropriately, we are rewarded with positive interactions from others.\u00a0 When we behave in a way that is awkward, inept, or inappropriate, there are consequences.\r\n\r\nGranted, it\u2019s not quite so black and white, as accurately interpreting the \u201cfeedback\u201d is easier for some than others. If you struggle from a social anxiety disorder, however, you limit your social interactions.\u00a0 This makes it much more difficult to blossom socially and develop the skills that many people take for granted.\u00a0 Not only that, your anxiety creates a vicious cycle.\r\n\r\nThe more fearful you are of doing something wrong or embarrassing, or that might lead to judgment from others, the more likely you are to behave in an awkward or inappropriate way.\u00a0 The negative reinforcement that inevitably follows makes it even more difficult to engage socially.\u00a0 The rewards are so few that it can seem completely futile to even keep trying. You keep asking yourself, is social anxiety disorder ruining your life?\r\nSkewed perceptions \r\nSince one of the greatest fears of someone with social phobia is being humiliated, scrutinized, or criticized by others, it\u2019s not uncommon to have a distorted view of your interactions with others.\u00a0 For example, constructive feedback from your boss may be perceived as harsh criticism.\u00a0 If you do unintentionally do something silly or amusing that makes those around you laugh, their laughter can be misperceived as making fun of you \u2013 which is humiliating \u2013 rather than simply lighthearted fun.\u00a0 Your hypersensitivity causes you to see everything from a very skewed viewpoint.\u00a0 Things that wouldn\u2019t bother most people feel very uncomfortable or hurtful to you.\r\nDifficulties being assertive \r\nIn order to successfully navigate life, we all need some degree of assertiveness.\u00a0 Granted, even people who don\u2019t have social anxiety disorder can be easily intimidated or prefer to avoid even minor confrontations.\u00a0 But with social phobia, asserting yourself can be extremely difficult \u2013 and may even feel impossible.\u00a0 Climbing Mt. Everest would be a much less daunting task than asserting yourself in any social interaction, even though you know that not speaking up or voicing your feelings will have negative consequences.\u00a0 Sadly, lack of assertiveness can lead to relationship problems, lost opportunities, and a whole host of other problems in life.\r\nAlcohol and other substance abuse problems\r\nMany people with social anxiety end up with substance abuse issues.\u00a0 Alcohol, in particular, is highly abused because of its disinhibiting effects.\u00a0 Feeling shy?\u00a0 Nervous?\u00a0 Scared?\u00a0 Don\u2019t know what to say?\u00a0 A few drinks may \u201cloosen you up\u201d, and transform you from the scared, deer-in-the-headlights wallflower to social butterfly or even life of the party.\u00a0 At the very least, alcohol may make you feel more at ease in the moment.\r\n\r\nSadly, a few drinks can also make you do and say things you regret later, and fulfilling fear of being embarrassed or humiliated. You may use alcohol or other substances to self-medicate the pain of social phobia as well.\u00a0 Anything that provides a temporary escape or helps numb the emotional pain - such as the intense loneliness and low self-esteem \u2013 can easily become a welcome (and dangerous) friend.\u00a0 Over time, what started out as an occasional means of making yourself feel better becomes a regular event \u2013 and may lead to dependence and addiction.\r\nSuicidal thoughts and behaviors\r\nThe isolation, low self-worth, and low quality of life that accompany social anxiety disorder can slowly erode the will to keep living.\u00a0 Feelings of hopelessness and depression, which are not uncommon with any serious and chronic anxiety disorder, can trigger suicidal thoughts and behaviors.\u00a0 Andrew Kukes, whose family started the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety, ended his life in 2009 after suffering from social anxiety disorder and subsequent depression .\u00a0 He was only 30 years old.\u00a0 Andrew\u2019s story is just one example of someone with so much potential, yet sadly paid the ultimate price for years of suffering from social anxiety disorder.\r\nTreatment and Hope\r\nLike all anxiety disorders, social anxiety is treatable.\u00a0 The results of treatment can vary, depending on many different factors.\u00a0 Some individuals do overcome it, while others learn to manage it well enough so that it no longer rules their life.\u00a0 One of the keys to effective treatment is working with a skilled, experienced therapist and sticking with the treatment plan. One of the best treatments for social anxiety disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.\u00a0 This particular therapeutic approach helps you learn how to identify the irrational, maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that both cause and exacerbate the anxiety.\r\n\r\nOnce identified, you then begin to change them to ones that are more rational and empowering. \u00a0As with other phobias, therapy may also include gradually \u201cexposing\u201d yourself (under the guidance of your therapist) to those situations that cause the most anxiety.\u00a0 The goal is to eventually be able to handle those anxiety-provoking situations with ease, using the skills you\u2019ve learned in therapy. In moderate to severe cases of social anxiety, medication may also be necessary for a period of time.\r\n\r\nHowever, medication is not recommended as the sole or primary treatment.\u00a0 While it may help reduce symptoms to some degree, it doesn\u2019t address the underlying issues. If you or someone you love is suffering from social anxiety disorder, there is hope.\u00a0 Life is too short to live with many or all of the above complications of this serious disorder.\u00a0 Your life doesn\u2019t have to be ruined by social anxiety.\r\nGet Treatment at Lucida\r\nContact a mental health professional today for an evaluation.\u00a0 Proper treatment for social anxiety disorder can make a world of difference and open up a whole new life that you never dreamed was possible for you. At Lucida, we offer:\r\n\r\n \tCognitive behavioral therapy\r\n \tGroup therapy\r\n \tDialectical behavior therapy\r\n \tFitness therapy\r\n\r\nIs social anxiety disorder ruining your life? Get treatment by calling <a href='tel:18669477299' data-ict-discovery-number='18669477299' data-ict-silent-replacements='true'>1.866.947.7299</a>.