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Jul 26

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Social Anxiety Disorder: How It Impacts Teenagers

Social Anxiety Disorder: How It Impacts Teenagers

Social Anxiety Disorder: How It Impacts Teenagers

Social Anxiety Disorder is a medical condition that can be found among people of all ages. In many cases, SAD may be mistaken for some other type of issues and go untreated. This is especially true with teenagers. Parents, adults, and other teens may assume the problem is nothing more than shyness or an awkward period that the teen will eventually leave behind. By understanding how SAD manifests in teens, it’s possible to know when there is a serious issue that requires professional attention.

Participation in the Classroom

One of the ways that SAD alters the behavior pattern of a teenager is manifested in the classroom. While many students don’t relish being called on to answer questions or like to be the spokesperson for a group of classmates assigned a topic to discuss, most are fine with fulfilling those roles as necessary. A teenager who is suffering from a social phobia will find it almost impossible to participate in these situations. The sensation of feeling cornered can be so strong that the heart races, the student feels dizzy, and may find it difficult to breathe. At best, concentrating enough to participate in the discussion requires every bit of effort the student can muster. At worst, the student is so consumed by anxiety that speaking at all is out of the question.

Making Friends

Part of growing up is learning how to participate in social situations and make new friends. A teenager who is dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder finds it almost impossible to go up to a new kid in school and say hello. Some may even find it hard to talk with other teens they have a passing acquaintance with.

As a result, the teen may focus mainly on others who have been friends for years. Even then, the amount of interaction is reduced as the phobia becomes worse. This is not because of a lack of caring about other people or having no desire to meet new peers. It’s simply that the underlying fear of being with others is stronger than the impulse to step out and spend more time with other people in the same age bracket.

Going Shopping or Gathering at Social Settings

Teens have always found public places to congregate. The venue can be a park, a video gallery, or a local shopping center. Sometimes there is a specific reason to congregate like going as a group to see a new movie. At other times, the goal is simply to hang out with friends.

The teen suffering with SAD finds being in any kind of public place difficult. Even with trusted friends on hand, it’s almost impossible to calm a racing heart, deal with a mind that seems to be going in several different directions at one time, or deal with all the sights and sounds that seem to be slamming the senses all at once. Instead of being a fun experience, going out with friends becomes something that is endured rather than enjoyed. 

Avoiding Social Interactions

At some point, the teen will begin to practice what is known as avoidance. This is common with people of all ages who develop some type of anxiety disorder. As different places become increasingly difficult to deal with, it’s easier to just not go there anymore.

Little by little, the teen’s world shrinks. At first, there are no more trips to a shopping center. Next, going to a movie is dropped. Before long, hanging out at a restaurant or fast food place becomes out of the question. By the time people begin to notice something is seriously wrong, the teen may have dropped out of all school clubs and refuses to attend any kind of social functions.

The good news is that Social Anxiety Disorder doesn’t have to control the teen forever. A medical professional can evaluate the patient’s condition and determine what combination of therapy and possibly medication will make it possible to recover and once again enjoy a normal life. If you or a friend is beginning to withdraw from social situations during or after school, take action now. Once the right course of treatment is started, the world will be less scary place.

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