Is it a bad thing to be too social?

Fear of people: this is how you recognize a social phobia

Do you withdraw from social life and are you afraid of interactions with other people? A social phobia can become noticeable in a wide variety of situations, for example by avoiding social events, festivities or lunches with colleagues. Often just thinking about such a "dangerous situation" triggers strong fear. Here you can find out how a social phobia manifests itself and what you can do about it.

Protection from hurt and humiliation

The Social phobia is one of the phobic disorders and should not be underestimated: after alcohol addiction and depression, it is the third most common mental illness. The main distinguishing feature of the phobia is that those affected fear critical observation of other people. "Socio-phobic fears are centered on interpersonal situations in which those affected feel a subjectively perceived threat to their own self-worth," says Dr. Christa Roth-Sackenheim from the Professional Association of German Psychiatrists (BVDP). "The fears consist of making alleged mistakes, behaving clumsily or shamefully and experiencing negative attention up to humiliation or even offense." It is quite clear to those affected that their fear of people is unfounded and exaggerated. However, they could hardly get out of it on their own because they no longer had their feelings of fear under control.

Do you also have an anxiety disorder? Register for our study in cooperation with Charité Berlin on the subject of fear & panic and get free access to the selfapy course at fear & panic. In this way you will help us to further confirm the effectiveness of our courses.

Fear of People: First Signs and Symptoms of Phobia

Social phobia is divided into two groups: specific social phobia and generalized social phobia. The specific social phobia usually occurs under the same circumstances, for example during public speeches, lectures or sports exams - that is, in all situations in which performance is required and those affected could “fail”. In contrast, people with a generalized social phobia show insecurity in a variety of situations and are generally insecure in everyday life.

Do you have occasional palpitations before a speech or do you find it difficult to take the first step in a social interaction? Then it does not necessarily have to be an anxiety disorder, but simply a reaction of the body to nervousness. You can tell the difference between stage fright or shyness and a social phobia by the symptoms: People with social phobia are so afraid of social group situations that they react with trembling hands, sweating and racing hearts. People with this phobia often find it difficult to eat or drink in public. Other symptoms of social phobia are difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, nausea, cramps and dizziness.

This is where the vicious circle begins, because in tricky situations those affected have the impression that they are losing control of their bodies. This grows the Fear of fear and the feeling of powerlessness increases. The result: Anyone who is afraid of strangers develops an avoidance behavior, which ultimately leads to a social phobia. This can lead to the avoidance of social contacts and life in public being completely broken off.

Deeper causes of fear of people

When creating a Social phobia A variety of factors work together. Fear of people usually develops in childhood or early adolescence. Those affected by the phobia have often had bad experiences with other people in the past and were laughed at or humiliated. A child is extremely receptive to the opinions of their peers, parents or teachers: Anyone who is constantly devalued, ridiculed or criticized by caregivers without having a stable self-confidence quickly develops negative thought patterns and tends to be self-critical. A slightly empathic, but extremely controlling or authoritarian style of upbringing can also help. The low self-esteem leads to the fact that no friendships are made and social skills are less developed in the following years.

Often people who have excessive expectations of themselves develop a fear of strangers. Social isolation "protects" them from further failure and offensive humiliation. The social phobia can also arise from drastic, traumatic experiences, such as the loss of a close family member.

These measures help against the phobia

Do you recognize yourself in it? Do you have a social phobia? The good news is that fear of strangers is curable. For that there is one first Confrontation with one's own fears required. Anyone who permanently fights against fear is overwhelmed and increases the symptoms of a social phobia. An assumption of fear, on the other hand, leads to the fact that the exhausting control attempts are omitted.

Psychotherapy will primarily help you with this: Scientists from the research network for psychotherapy of social phobia (SOPHO-NET) examined the effectiveness of psychotherapy in people with social phobia. The result was clear: psychotherapy ensures that the symptoms of the phobia subside or disappear completely. "Simply waiting without any psychotherapy is not a sensible alternative to get social fears under control," says Professor Dr. Falk Leichsenring, head of the research network.

Fear of strangers: confrontation and overcoming

In psychotherapy you learn to deal confidently with your fear of many people. In the process, strategies for regulating emotions are developed and self-control is strengthened. You identify your personal triggers of the social phobia and break the cycle of fear with interactive exercises. So you no longer have to suppress any symptoms that occur, but can consciously allow and perceive them.

This confrontation continues until the fear subsides and is no longer perceived as such. By dealing with the phobia you gain inner strength and can deal with unknown situations more confidently. As part of psychotherapy, you will also get to know your individual strengths and strengthen your self-esteem.

By the way: With relaxation methods such as yoga or Chi Gong you can strengthen your spiritual awareness in everyday life and release mental blockages. Make sure you have a balanced diet, because a healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grain products and natural proteins provides important amino acids that are required for the brain metabolism and produce serotonin.

Bridge long waiting times for a therapy place

Therapy is the only effective method against social phobia, but the waiting time is between six months and two years. You can spend this time with a Selfapy online course bridge. Psycho-educational texts and videos will help you to overcome the fear of many people.