If someone close to you suffers from social anxiety, you may be wondering how you can help or what you can do. Social anxiety is a real anxiety disorder, not just a case of shyness and cannot be treated as such.
Social anxiety disorder gives an intense fear of being judged by others in a social situation, making it difficult for those with the disorder to maintain healthy relationships and social life. Fortunately, there are several ways to be there for someone who has social anxiety disorder without making either of you uncomfortable.
Being educated on the topic of social anxiety will help you better understand your loved one’s disorder. Recognizing the signs, symptoms, and triggers of the disorder can greatly improve communication between yourself and the affected person. Seeing that someone they care about is taking the time to learn and be empathetic towards their disorder can also be a great confidence boost.
A person affected by social anxiety disorder could have an anxiety attack from what you consider to be the smallest of judgments. Take extra care to be supportive and listen; often times someone with social anxiety just wants to be heard and appreciated.
Being encouraging is just as important as being understanding when dealing with someone affected by anxiety. Give your loved one praise when they accomplish a difficult social task, or offer to accompany them to an outing they may be too anxious to attend themselves. Introducing them to new people may be overwhelming, but can also be a great long-term goal.