Does Social Anxiety Cause Substance Abuse?
Read on to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and impacts of social anxiety disorder, as well as how to seek treatment.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Everyone occasionally feels anxious or fearful, and these human feelings are normal and beneficial, as they enable us to deal with or avoid perceived threats. However, social anxiety disorder, also known as social anxiety phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder that makes a person extremely fearful of being in social situations. There are various expressions or types of social anxiety. People with social anxiety generally have problems interacting with others in social settings, meeting new people, and attending social events.1
While those struggling with a social anxiety disorder may have different reasons for dreading particular social settings, the overwhelming fear of being judged or scrutinized by others in social environments, being embarrassed or humiliated, accidentally offending someone, or being the focus of attention is often generally associated with social anxiety disorders. 2
Diagnosing Social Anxiety
Social anxiety manifests itself in different ways in certain people, so it is highly possible to diagnose social anxiety disorder as deep-seated shyness, and even to misunderstand it to be a variety of other mental health conditions while never being properly addressed. 3
It is important to emphasize that social anxiety disorder extends beyond shyness and has the potential to substantially disrupt a person's life. Therefore, when social disorder symptoms are observed, a qualified psychologist or medical practitioner should conduct a social anxiety diagnosis to implement appropriate social anxiety treatment.
What Does It Feel Like?
While everyone's experience with social anxiety is unique, a person with a social anxiety disorder will typically:
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety symptoms are signs that are indicative of social anxiety phobia. In addition, cognitive, physical, and behavioral impairments are signs of severe social anxiety.
Cognitive impairments develop when problems with thought processes emerge. 4
People with social anxiety disorder have thought patterns that have the potential to cause negative emotions and behaviors, which is why one of the goals of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for social anxiety is to assist in identifying when these types of thought patterns emerge and aiding in changing how they are responded to. 5
Indications of Severe Social Anxiety
The following are five symptoms of severe social anxiety.
Physical signs and symptoms are observable or detectable indicators of a condition and can sometimes accompany social anxiety disorder. For example, in cases of severe social anxiety, the overwhelming fear of social situations manifests physically through:
Behavioral symptoms refer to persistent or recurrent actions that are abnormal, distressing, inappropriate, or problematic. Behavioral symptoms may emerge due to aberrant brain chemistry, damage, or anatomical abnormalities. 6
People with social anxiety behave a certain way when facing triggering situations. The phobia of social interaction may result behaviorally in:
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What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?
While the precise root cause of social anxiety is elusive, current research has attributed social anxiety causes to a combination of environmental factors, genetics, and negative experiences. This is because the development of social anxiety disorder, like many other mental health disorders, is probably best described as an interaction between various bio-psycho-social components. 7
Relatives of those with social anxiety disorder have a greater chance of potentially developing the disorder. Genetic factors, therefore, appear to be involved. Furthermore, studies indicate that the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) in social anxiety treatment may indicate that dysregulation of the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter system may also be a contributing factor to the disorder's occurrence. 8
The following experiences may also influence social anxiety phobia:
When Does Social Anxiety Occur?
A wide range of activities can cause anxiety. While any social circumstance has the potential to be perceived as a social anxiety cause, common situations serve as causes for certain people's social anxiety diagnosis more than others. They can include:
What Is the Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse is referred to as the use of psychoactive substances in a harmful or hazardous manner for mood-altering purposes. 13
According to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality's national survey on drug use and health, people who experience social anxiety symptoms are especially susceptible to substance misuse due to their propensity for heightened anxiety symptoms in social contexts, as well as the normative character of substance abuse. The research further established substance use as a coping method to avoid negative social evaluation and a major reason for social anxiety. 14
How Can It Affect Your Life?
There are several reasons for social anxiety and naturally, the resulting effects of social anxiety can be impairment of social functions. People with social anxiety and depression typically have a smaller circle of friends and experience difficulty interacting with others. The side effects of social anxiety caused by fear of social situations can end up interfering with interpersonal relationships. 15
Several side effects of social anxiety include:
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder
When a social anxiety disorder has been diagnosed, the next step is to commence treatment. Fortunately, many treatment options have successfully provided treatment for social anxiety behaviors. Furthermore, social anxiety support groups offer added support for a person struggling with social anxiety disorder.
Treatment for social anxiety disorder can include:
Prevention of Social Anxiety Disorder
While there is a specific way of preventing social anxiety disorders from developing, there are several therapeutic approaches and proactive measures that people can take to manage social anxiety symptoms and help people cope better. A few of them are: 18
Get Help for Social Anxiety Disorder at Ripple Ranch
At Ripple Ranch, you are guaranteed a personalized treatment program to suit your needs. Treatment at Ripple Ranch uses a six-week process of evidence-based therapies and holistic healing techniques that have been proven by research to be the most effective.
We are always available to get down to the root cause of social anxiety and help change the negative thought patterns while developing confidence in social situations, especially the ones you fear the most, so you can thrive and succeed in the real world.
Reach Out Today
Don't hesitate to contact us immediately if you have any concerns about social anxiety. Our team is eager to tell you more about what we have to offer and to assist you in developing the best effective care plan for you.