Social anxiety disorder is a very widespread form of anxiety. This can affect anyone at any time, and causes problems with everyday circumstances, from shopping to talking to people over the phone. Those with social anxiety can isolate themselves from friends and family, which, in turn creates more problems both at home and at work.
Social anxiety can be present in many different situations, including:
- talking while in front of people
- reading aloud
- writing whilst being looked at
- lining up in queues
- attending meetings at work
- travelling on public transport
or any circumstance where someone is or thinks they are the focus of attention.
The fear of criticism may also be present with social anxiety and this can also add to more avoidance behaviour. Low self-worth and feelings of insecurity are also typical features and can lead to relationship problems. The partner with social anxiety may no longer wish to go out or needs constant reassurance from their partner that things are ‘alright’. This puts pressure on the relationship and can lead to further issues of lack of trust and being criticised.
Untreated, the levels of anxiety and fear may generalise and accentuate until the person begins to encounter panic and anxiety attacks. Further ramifications of this disorder are depressive feelings and an inability to relax, which can lead to misuse of alcohol and drugs in an effort to escape reality.
As the issue escalates, the fears can be self-fulfilling, as relationships begin to come apart and daily life becomes considerably more difficult.
How can hypnotherapy help? Anxiety, finding it difficult to be with others, low self-esteem and lack of confidence can be treated by understanding what is creating the anxiety – such as worrying about the future – and by recognising that perceptions of possible future events can be altered. Planning how to respond to things that might happen is helped by mentally rehearsing how they can be handled. This does take time but the result should be feeling better able to cope, a more positive outlook and increased confidence.
Hypnosis works by making positive, beneficial suggestions that work at a conscious and unconscious level. We are very good at making negative suggestions to ourselves all the time – that little internal voice that tells us how badly we did something or makes some other equally unhelpful comment. These are auto-suggestions. In a way we ‘hypnotise’ ourselves by how we talk to ourselves. An experienced hypnotherapist can help us to understand the power we have and to use it in more helpful ways. It helps the person to change their thinking and re-establish favourable thinking patterns and feelings of positivity, control and confidence.
by Anne Morrison © 2014
Anne Morrison, MBSCH, GQHP, lives in Whitley Bay and holds clinics in North Shields and Newcastle. She can be contacted by phone on 07905 735 457 or via her website www.annemorrison.co.uk.