Hi there my beautiful lovelies! Hope you guys are doing well and staying safe. Today I want to talk to you about something I have been thinking about a lot, the past few weeks, Social Anxiety. I know we all have experienced it at some point in life. However, I think that social anxiety was more visible the past year during the pandemic.
So What Is Social Anxiety?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and your other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. But social anxiety disorder doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your potential. Treatment can help you overcome your symptoms.”
I know that may seem extreme or not normal to you but think about it. The past year has been nothing but not normal. During the past year every time we left home, we had to think about our own and our loved one’s safety. We avoided social interaction as much as possible. We worked from home, and Zoom, Team, WebEx, and/or Google Meet become our source of social interaction. If you have a vulnerable family member, then forget about it. We worked hard to make sure that they are protected. Social distancing, mask-wearing became the new normal.
How Common is Social Anxiety?
According to Kessler and colleagues (2005), the lifetime prevalence of social anxiety is 8-13%. Now, that may be a small number. However, if you think about it, we all have experienced social anxiety one time or another: whether afraid of raising hand in school in fear of looking stupid, or just afraid of being embarrassed. Nevertheless, these feelings have increased exponentially (My sole opinion). As reported by the World Economic Forum, lockdown associated with COVID-19 is the “world’s largest psychological experiment.”
Social Anxiety and the Pandemic
As more and more people are getting vaccinated, life is slowly getting back to some sort of normalcy. This in turn is increasing our social anxiety. I for one am dealing with this every day. While everyone was working in their PJs at home, my dad and I were driving to work, a normal routine of being essential workers. However, anxiety did not ease. I have anxiety and PTSD, but social anxiety was not much of a problem for me. However, with the beginning of the pandemic, my dad and I dreaded leaving home. This was especially stressful for us because my mom is severely immunocompromised and was hospitalized twice in less than six months. My sister, who used to go to work every day, became a full-time teleworker.
Hence, every time my mom had an injection, we started blaming ourselves for bringing home infections and making mom sick. I have a UV sanitizer at home and wipes in every room. Every time, we went out, before going inside, we put our stuff in the UV box to sanitize, wipe our shoes, and then change and wash our hands and faces before going to any common areas. Even after doing all that, going to work every day was a traumatic event for me every day. Before the pandemic, I had a generalized anxiety disorder, but after the pandemic, I was diagnosed with a post-traumatic disorder or PTSD. It is a nightmare for me to go to work every day, going to the grocery store, or any other close interaction. I am still taking every precaution to continue in my daily life, but it will take time. I bet that I am not an isolated case. I would love to see evidence-based research in this area. What does the number tell us? What is the prevalence of social anxiety is compared to pre-pandemic?
My dear lovelies! Have you faced anxiety dealing with social situations? I would love to hear your feedback. What are you doing to ease anxiety?
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