A familiar feeling of sweaty palms, an upturned stomach, racing thoughts, and increased heartbeat is what many people have experienced in their life time. This phenomenon usually occurs when we are put into situations that trigger our flight or fight responses. However, for those with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, these moments are experienced frequently on a daily basis with extreme intensities.
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SAD can be defined as an overwhelming anxiety with excessive and difficult to control worries or fears about social interactions or scrutiny (Falk & Leweke, 2017). The origins of the disorder may be a result from high exposures of either stressful and negative events that one has experienced from childhood or adulthood (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). Previous history of anxiety or other mental disorders may also be a source of origin for SAD. It is a common anxiety disorder that can be found among 33% of college students (Brook & Willoughby 2015) and has a large impact on their academic and social performances. In this paper, it will address how SAD impacts college students and their dimensions of wellness.
Signs and symptoms of SAD are similar to the vivid imagery described in the introduction. According to the DSM-IV, typical symptoms would include difficulty in controlling worries, general avoidance, large restrictions with speaking in public, body dysmorphia, and intense nervousness (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). More physical symptoms would include intensive blushing, trembling, stiff muscles, increased heartbeats, dry throat or mouth, and dizziness (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This disorder is often mistaken for the typical shyness, when in reality it is something more extreme. With the flight-or-fight responses, people with SAD also tend to have thoughts that revolve around the judgments by others. Due to these thoughts, they tend to feel very uncomfortable and in some cases, may even break down and have a panic attack. It impacts 50% of children, as early as 11 years of age, and 80% of those at age 20 (Stien & Stien, 2008). SAD is becoming an increasing and alarming mental disorder that must be addressed.
Therefore, getting the proper treatment for SAD is essential. For only 35% of those who have chronic SAD get the proper treatment for it (Falk & Leweke, 2017). With SAD alone, they are already at high risk for cardiovascular disease and disorders related to substance-use or depression (Falk & Leweke, 2017). Some of the most effective methods of treatment are psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, antidepressants, beta-blockers, stress management techniques, and support groups (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). By getting these treatments, they significantly prevent the previously mentioned risks and cope more efficiently with SAD. The intensity of their symptoms may be decreased as well since they have a source of treatment to help them pull through those social moments.
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