Wallflower syndrome getting you down?

A social anxiety disorder is also known as a social phobia. This common mental disorder involves fear, nervousness, discomfort and avoiding any interference in your everyday routine.

Common fears:

  • Avoiding doing things or interacting with people Download comic sans.
  • Humiliation and being judged.
  • Always expecting the worst and having negative thoughts in social situations and spaces.
  • Being the centre of attention.
  • Losing control of your feelings.

These disorders could be chronic or last just a few years. The onset of trauma may be a trigger too.


Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • A severe ongoing anxiety that interferes with the routine of your everyday activities.
  • Symptoms include a lack of concentration, restlessness, and persistent and excessive worry.
  • There’s a constant expectancy of disaster.
  • This disorder gradually develops and can happen at any point of your life.

Prescribed antidepressants from your doctor may help, depending on the severity of your condition. Psychotherapy, a type of counselling which takes practical approaches in problem-solving, also helps.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Excessive thoughts that lead to obsessive and repetitive behaviours.
  • Repetitive actions are thoughts that you might cause harm to yourself or hurt your loved ones. Repetitive actions include arranging and rearranging objects, checking door locks and stoves, aggressive instincts, repeated cleaning and counting and compulsive hoarding.

Therapy where you set goals for yourself and learn problem-solving may keep the disorder in check.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Anxiety and flashbacks caused by a traumatic event that makes you fear for your life and safety. This may last for months or years.
  • Symptoms include constant self-blame, shame, guilt and the need to have someone constantly present. You have trouble falling asleep. Aggression, hostility, trouble concentrating, mistrust, suicidal thoughts and feelings are also present.

The causes of PTSD are normally not treated, and the prescribed medication usually treats symptoms of depression and anxiety. When looking for a therapist, make sure it’s a PTSD specialist.

Read  Parenting without pressure


Social phobia

  • A disorder where social interactions cause irrational anxiety.
  • A feeling of constantly being judged or evaluated. This eventually leads to avoiding people completely. Being unreasonably anxious in front of people, and being comfortably fine being alone could mean that “social anxiety” may be the root of your problem.
  • When you’re introduced to people or the centre of attention you sweat excessively, blush, and have a dry mouth and throat.

Therapy and medication like antidepressants, sedatives and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help increase confidence. Speak with a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.


Panic disorder

  • Panic attacks are disabling and spontaneous. These are sudden attacks of nervousness and fear.
  • Tightness of the chest and a rapid heartbeat are the first signs.
  • The disabling fear causes you to think that you’re about to die.
  • Abnormalities in the brain, a family history, substance and alcohol abuse and prolonged stress, are contributing factors to this disorder.

This disorder is best treated with a combination of medication and therapy. Practise breathing techniques to help you stay calm. Chamomile tea is known to treat mild to moderate anxiety symptoms. A hot bath relieves tension in muscles and this can help you relax. Getting a massage with aroma oils promotes relaxation too.



  • The fear of being in spaces or situations that might cause a panic attack.
  • Feeling trapped, like you can’t escape is one of the first signs of this phobia.
  • The fear of wide, open spaces may cause awkwardness or helplessness, and triggers shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations and diarrhoea.

This is very treatable once you understand why it happens. Exposure therapy (cognitive behavioural treatment) is said to be one of the best methods of treatment, so speak to a doctor about how best to approach it.