The anxiety nobody is talking about

The pandemic of 2020 has caused people with anxiety and social phobia, particularly, to really revel in their anxiousness. People who struggle with anxiety related to social situations i.e., social anxiety may have found their own personal bliss during the pandemic creating and digging an even deeper anxiety grave if you will.

If “Sara “has social anxiety, she is anxious to be out and about in social situations on any given day. Attending parties is the pinnacle of her anxiety but even just going out to the supermarket with having to be out in public and possibly interacting with the cashier is enough to cause her anxiety to spike.

Enter the pandemic and lockdowns and ordinary people not being able to go out and do ordinary things. Everyone is home, shopping online, zooming with friends, isolating- this is a socially anxious person’s dream!! Now they no longer need to feel the shame of this anxiety and isolation! No need to explain to anyone why they can’t go out today or tonight!! This is the perfect hideaway for a socially anxious person!! Their anxiety is finally normalized!!!

Is this a good thing?!! It may seem that way for the socially anxious but is it really? Is this not counterproductive to what people with social anxiety need to be doing? The pandemic is reinforcing and solidifying feelings of social anxiety. By normalizing this, we are making it difficult for people to face their anxiety and deal with it making it harder for them in the future. It may feel good at the moment, but what about when the world goes back to normal? How much harder will it be for people with social anxiety to get out there and deal with those demons? Any progress made will surely be squashed. They will start from zero again. We need to do something about it now, not wait until we can go out in public again with no fear. I think that people with social anxiety can be rest assured that even people who never officially were labeled with social anxiety have some sort of anxiety now being around people. The world is telling us to! Telling us to have social anxiety!!! Don’t go around people in public, no crowds, people are dangerous!! That is essentially how we, the socially anxious, feel on a regular day, never mind the reason! How can we remedy this right now?

We need to start dealing with the anxiety now. Join zoom calls even if you have zoom fatigue. Get used to your face time app on your phone; start slow by talking to non-threatening people such as family members you are comfortable with or a friend you’re very close to. Make it a priority to push yourself and work with your therapist to practice socializing via technology until it is safe to go out in public places once again. This is the only way to slowly get back out there and make progress so that the normalization of not socializing becomes your new normal permanently, even when society is not normalizing this anymore.

Some Facts:

  • Fifteen million, or seven percent, of American adults, have Social Anxiety Disorder [1]. More than 75% of people experience their first symptoms during their childhood or early teenage years [2].
  • Who is most diagnosed with social anxiety disorder?
  • Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia. The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years.
  • Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and the prevalence of anxiety disorders is significantly higher for women (23.4 percent) than men (14.3 percent).
More Articles From Tara Green, LCSW
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