Social anxiety: A workplace and school problem on the rise, according to several studies
Social anxiety disorder is an excessive fear of social situations or public performances, which leads to their avoidance. The human being is a social animaland their ability to interact smoothly in different social situations influences important aspects of their lives such as family, education, work, leisure, and social and marital relationships.
Although it is normal to feel some anxiety in social situations, people with social phobia experience anxiety to such a degree that they try to avoid such situations or face them with great discomfort. Approximately 13% of people have social phobia at some point in their life. The disorder affects with an annual prevalence close to 9% of women and 7% of men according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since the pandemic, the consumption of anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs has increased, especially in developed countries such as Spain, Portugal and Croatia, which occupy the top 3, according to the most recent report from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction.
“The state of social anxiety is related to various aspects of psychological abuse that are manifested in education and work, one of these variables is workplace and school bullying causing psychosomatic manifestations such as stomach upset or nausea, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, tremors, sweating, negative thoughts about your own life, and behavioral changes to avoid or escape from the situation”, explains Sandra Camacho, psychologist and dean of the College of Psychology from Unicoc.
Jantzer, Hoover, and Narloch (2016) collected data indicating a positive correlation between having been bullied in childhood and the presence of levels of social anxiety in adulthood, as well as a direct relationship between reporting having suffered victimization in the past and exhibit interference in interpersonal relationships, specifically a lower quality of friendships and trust with other people.
Back to school
“Going back to class can generate symptoms of social anxiety, as a consequence of the maladjustment to the daily life of the school, having contact with their peers and teachers again can generate anxiety and fear and more when the boy, girl or adolescent was a victim of bullying and the return manages to evoke in them all the uncomfortable and frustrating sensations and thoughts”, points out the Unicoc teacher.
How to deal with social anxiety
There are multiple personality characteristics and individual factors that can act as moderators of this relationship (Einarsen, 2010). In a study carried out by Moreno-Jiménez, Rodríguez-Muñoz, Moreno and Garrosa (2006), they found that the assertiveness moderated the relationship between organizational background, labor inequity and psychological harassmentwhich would make it easier to reduce symptoms and handle bullying.
According to the psychologist Camacho, it is important for parents to be aware of behavioral changes in children such as isolation, negative or pessimistic messages towards themselves and all those physiological symptoms that develop when a child feels uncomfortable in a place. If this happens you must pay attention to the child and create spaces for dialogue to externalize emotions, as well as activities that allow them to practice sports, exercise, mindfulness for children, theater in daily practice in order to channel and improve anxiety. However, when affected children and adolescents have presented frequent crises and have changed their behavior, treatment with psychotherapy is usually necessary to address the existence of both physical and psychological factors and thus avoid sequelae in adulthood.
anxiety in adults
The climate of insecurity and the experience of uncertainty has to do with many variables. Only one of them is crime and public order, which have taken over Chile’s agenda in recent weeks. The constant threat of returning to the pandemic, the economic turbulence, the incessant information on social networks, which, among others, have affected the current feeling of vulnerability.
This was announced by Francisco Flores, psychologist and director of the NGO Mente Sana, who maintains that this impacts our mental health, since “who lives with distrust, lives among adversaries, always on the defensive, with their alert systems permanently active: anguish, stress, psychosomatic alterationsthe consumption of tranquilizers, panic disorders, loss of eroticism, as some of the effects they suffer.”
On the other hand, the feeling of vulnerability triggers defensive and avoidant attitudes in many people. “Fear and insecurity are easily contagious emotions, and pThey can be a deadly weapon against the integrity of others, but also even against one’s own. We know that staying away from others is the most immediate method of protection and the pandemic we are suffering came to reinforce that impulse”, adds the specialist.
As a way to better take on this time, psychologist Francisco Flores points out that there are certain attitudes that can help us focus our fears so as not to panic. Between them:
• Restore the possibility of the word on the images. Conversation is becoming a scarcer activity. We can be with others; however, not necessarily converse. It is always healthier to unload through the word, since it allows us to identify and give existence to what circulates in our body in a silent way. Find the meaning that is sometimes lost.
• The essential thing is to combat loneliness, isolation. A few days ago we learned in the press, a study where people who say they feel alone are increasing. Maintaining links with others is essential. May the circle of those we can trust be perceived as larger than those we distrust.
• Have a critical stance in the face of the multitude of information that only disorients us and prefer reliable sources.
• Understand that crises are transitory, which can give us critical or positive solutions, so apocalyptic languages are only at the service of particular interests.