Commentary: Social Anxiety’s Reach Is Too Big

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A young boy experiencing distress. Photo provided by gettyimages.com

Reece Jacob, Reporter

Social anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety, and yet not many people really understand it. It’s good to make sure people with it are doing okay.

Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that makes people scared of social scenarios or areas with many people. 

Take me for example. I rarely go to parties, even if they’re relatively small. There’s too many people and too much noise; I can’t handle it well. Other things people struggle with are obviously crowds. Classes with a lot of students or a lunchroom filled with peers can be stressful.

Social anxiety symptoms are just like any other anxiety disorders. People experience anxiety attacks in social situations. An anxiety attack is mostly just panicking along with things like being unable to breathe and feeling weak. A lot of people like me need a certain thing to calm down, like a stuffed animal or even just a friend.

Social anxiety is becoming more common in today’s society. Psychologists in 2018 saw a 5% increase in the disorder since 2017, and each year after only got worse.

Around 18% of adults suffer from social anxiety worldwide. That equates to 40 million adults, which is not a small amount.

Many people get the disorder randomly. However, there are a few common causes. These include poor parenting, bullying, and social media.

Children who grow up with overbearing parents generally have a lot of fear and trust issues. Adults who are quick to criticize their children are a big part of the problem. People who grew up being bullied often become scared of social situations and people, which is only made worse by the recent increase in bullying. Social media is another big cause, especially in recent years. While places like Instagram or Snapchat aren’t inherently bad, there are problems within them. Peers’ Snapchat stories are only going to show the best of people’s lives, so when someone has nothing going on, they feel left out.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on many people with other anxiety disorders or depression. However, I would argue it has been easier on us with social anxiety. For six months straight, we didn’t have to talk to anybody or stress about any kind of social situation. I definitely don’t speak for everyone, but I do know that other people and I really loved the isolation during this time.

Face masks have also been helpful, as having about half of your face covered at all times is bliss. If you’re worried about your appearance or anything similar to that, a mask does wonders.

If you’re wondering what you can do to help someone with social anxiety, a good thing to do is to always check in on them. They go through a lot of stress every day and it’s important to make sure they’re okay.

While I did mention that COVID-19 has been easy on some, it hasn’t been great for everyone. We also live in a time where there are a lot of stressful things in every location. ISASP is coming up in school, US politics are a mess, and home life can be messy. Please remember to do your best to help anyone who is struggling.