How to Support Someone with Social Anxiety

How to Support Someone with Social Anxiety

While some people are “social butterflies” and thrive when in a room full of people, others find it difficult to be in that room at all. Social anxiety can affect anyone from any walk of life, and living with this disorder should not be minimized as mere “shyness” or “being an introvert.”

If you have a friend or loved one coping with social anxiety, there are several things you can do to help them overcome this challenge and support them.

Take Time to Understand Social Anxiety

A common misconception is that social anxiety is “just shyness,” but that’s far from the truth. Social anxiety is a diagnosable, psychological disorder.

Before assuming that your loved one is simply introverted and shy, take some time to research and learn about their disorder. It will go a long way in understanding what they’re feeling and how you can help.

Avoid Over-Accommodating

Especially if your loved one has been living with social anxiety for a while, they have likely developed several self-defeating habits that help them cope. However, it’s possible that you have helped in that regard and are potentially making things worse.

Take some time to think about possible ways you may have accidentally or purposefully over-accommodated your friend’s condition. For example, have you spoken for them in social situations because they are too anxious to do so themselves, or have you allowed them to, more often than not, avoid social situations entirely? While these habits may seem to help quell their anxiety, they are only short-term fixes that may deter their recovery in the long run.

Compromise, Don’t Force

While it’s not best to over-accommodate your loved one’s social anxiety, you also shouldn’t force them to entirely confront their fears before they are ready to do so. This can have negative effects and potentially even worsen their anxiety if they feel too overwhelmed.

Find a compromise instead. For example, if your brother doesn’t feel comfortable at a family party, try encouraging them to stay and say a few words rather than just leave the situation.

Suggest Professional Treatment

If someone you know and care about is experiencing social anxiety that is debilitating enough to where they are missing out on social events or becoming more isolated, it may be time to suggest they seek professional treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help greatly in the treatment of social anxiety by helping reduce fears of embarrassment or making even minor social missteps.

At NeuroBehavioral Institute, we offer intensive treatment for many serious and debilitating psychological conditions, including an internationally recognized intensive treatment program and residential support for severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you change your life at its core.


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