Does Your Child Have Social Anxiety?
Anxiety is a common problem.
Did you know that anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children? Social Anxiety is just one type of anxiety disorder. There are others: panic disorder, selective mutism, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, specific phobias, and separation anxiety. You can learn more about all of these here.
Anxiety is treatable, but most kids are not getting treatment, according to this report.
What are the symptoms of social anxiety?
- Fear (of going out, of new situations, of appearing foolish, etc)
- Avoidance of certain (social) situations and activities
While all of us, especially adolescents, experience these symptoms from time to time, they are fleeting and do not affect our quality of life or the activities we choose. Someone with social anxiety feels one or more of these symptoms frequently and routinely avoids certain activities because of them.
What are the consequences of untreated (social) anxiety?
- Poor quality of life
- Missed social experiences
- (Likely) poor performance at school (and work)
Unfortunately, anxiety often occurs alongside other disorders, including but not limited to: depression, ADHD, abdominal pain, drug or alcohol use and abuse, and eating disorders.
How is (Social) Anxiety Treated?
Since anxiety disorders may show up before other problems such as school refusal, drug use and eating disorders, it’s vital that parents recognize the disorder early, and pursue effective treatment.
(Social) anxiety will likely never go away completely, but using a combination of these methods can make it a well-managed annoyance rather than a debilitating illness.
Therapy – no matter the specific method, this is all about learning to recognize emotions, name them, feel them coming on, and handle them in a constructive way.
- CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – talk therapy aimed at changing thought patterns in order to change feelings, or harnessing the power of cognitive control over emotions
- Other talk therapies – there are several other types of talk therapy; they all share the idea that talking enables you to arrive at a solution
- Biofeedback – shows you your breathing and heart rate, as well as other metabolic measures and teaches you to use the brain to control them
- Group – similar to talk therapy, but with the idea that sharing in a group of peers will: invoke a sense of camaraderie, provide perspective, and provide diverse insights
- Visualization – learning to mentally put yourself in a calm place to control acute anxiety; learn more here and here
Exercise – whether it’s anxiety, depression, or stress, regular sustained exercise that gets the heart going can work wonders.
Homeopathy – controversial as it is, I’ve seen marked improvement in mental health with the right homeopathic prescription (learn lots more about homeopathy and its controversies here)
Herbal Medicine – many herbs are well known for their ability to calm the mind and nervous system.
Nutrition – whether through diet or supplements, certain nutrients calm the nervous system. Some nutrients and substances are stimulating and must be avoided. For some, improving blood sugar control may help.
Get outside – I would also argue that most people would benefit from a lot more time in nature
And more! Finally, check out this fantastic, thorough article 8 Naturopathic Approaches to Addressing Your Child’s Anxiety.
When all else fails, consider pharmaceuticals – there are medications available; they are often prescribed by an adolescent psychiatrist, though some family physicians, pediatricians, and other practitioners will also prescribe.