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We all experience anxiety to an extent. However, approximately 40 million adults are living with an actual anxiety disorder in the United States. There are at least eight different types of anxiety disorders, but one of the least talked about and most misunderstood is social anxiety disorder.

People living with social anxiety carry the burden of an overwhelming and irrational fear of judgment. This leads to constant feelings of humiliation, inadequacy, embarrassment and depression. Their anxiety is persistent and intense. The most unfortunate part of having social anxiety is existing with the They recognize that their fears are irrational, but it doesn’t make the feeling of worry any less overpowering.

With Summer Walker and her bout with social anxiety disorder at the forefront of conversation this week, we thought it would be beneficial to raise awareness regarding this rarely-talked-about condition. Continue reading for ten important facts about living with social anxiety disorder.

What it is

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Social anxiety disorder is a common type of anxiety disorder. A person with social anxiety disorder feels symptoms of anxiety or fear in certain or all social situations.”

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What it’s not

It’s not a matter of being shy. Social anxiety disorder can severely disrupt the daily functioning of those forced to live with it. It can impact a person’s ability to finish school, interview, and secure employment.

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Social anxiety is common

Social anxiety is the third largest psychological disorder in the United States, only coming second to alcoholism and depression.

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Children are not exempt

Social anxiety disorder affects children and can manifest in ways that are easy to perceive as misbehavior. According to the British Psychological Society, children suffering from social anxiety disorder may have outbursts, throw tantrums, cry, freeze, and disengage in school. Even more troubling is that the disorder likely to start by adolescence.

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It rarely flies solo

Eighty percent of people diagnosed with social anxiety disorder will experience at least one other psychiatric disorder in their lifetime (Magee & Eaton, 1996).

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It affects educational outcomes and earning potential

People living with social anxiety disorder are at higher risk of dropping out of school and are more likely to receive (Van Ameringen, Mancini & Farvolden, 2003). In addition, those suffering from the illness were found to earn 10% lower wages than their healthy counterparts (Katzelnick, 2001) and were more likely to leave jobs that required public presentations.

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Social anxiety doesn’t look the same for everyone

Not everyone who suffers from this disorder will experience it in the same way. While one person’s symptoms may be triggered by public speaking or meeting new people, another’s may be fueled by eating in front of people.

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For many, the symptoms can outlast the moment

Often times, the symptoms related to a social anxiety episode can outlast the actual anxiety-inducing event. Individuals living with the disorder can experience increased heart rate, sweating, trembles and paralyzing negative thoughts for hours, days, or even weeks after being triggered.

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Medication doesn’t always help

Medication has been found to only be helpful to some who are living with social anxiety disorder.  And without cognitive behavioral therapy medication has been found to be virtually useless in the long run.

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Finding a competent health professional can be daunting

Not every mental health professional is well-versed in treating this condition. As a result, getting professional help can be a lengthy and disheartening process. In addition, not every health insurance plan provides sufficient coverage for mental health services. Telling someone to “get help” is almost never as simple as it sounds

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