Teen Social Anxiety Disorder is a condition in which teens have an extreme fear of being evaluated and judged by others, to the point where it becomes debilitating, and prevents them from being able to participate and engage in healthy activities and relationships. Teens with Social Anxiety Disorder feel severe self-consciousness and fear of being embarrassed or somehow humiliating themselves, in a particular context or relationship. Even average, every-day interactions such as friendly conversations, participating in a classroom conversation, or even polite interaction with a stranger can be too overwhelming for the teen.
What It Looks Like
The most typical and overreaching symptom of Teen Social Anxiety Disorder is for teens to withdraw from both people and activities. This is because the teens so strongly want to avoid situations that might require them to act or speak in ways that will cause the embarrassment they so fear. For some teens, the anxiety can be selective, and only related to a specific context, such as giving a public presentation or performing well in a sporting event. For others, it may be more general, such as engaging in conversations with people they don’t know well. Regardless of the specific fear, the teens become stuck in an overwhelming thought pattern of all the different humiliating and embarrassing things they might do. This worry and anxiety becomes so intense that the teens no longer have the ability to look at a situation or context logically, because everything becomes colored and affected by this stress. In some cases, teens might even be aware that the stress they’re experiencing is unreasonable, but still feel powerless against it. Over time, this constant anxiety about what could happen in a social situation and the accompanied efforts to avoid them, can lead the teens to become detached from certain relationships and experiences.
Teen Social Anxiety Treatment
Teen Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder is commonly very successful and can often provide teens with relief relatively quickly. One of the first things we do with all of our teens is a thorough, comprehensive diagnostic process, which provides us with as complete a picture as possible, about what they’re experiencing. We believe this is extremely important, in order for us to understand all possible factors at work, such as Co-Occurring Disorders or perhaps a cause and effect relationship between a Substance Abuse Disorder and an Anxiety Disorder. Therefore, when working with teens that are suffering from Social Anxiety, we immediately want to help them identify, more specifically, what are the triggers and stressors that create this anxiety. What we find is that often, the more specific the teens can become in identifying their stressors, the more manageable they become as well. Sometimes, during this process, teens realize that their overwhelming fears are connected to a more general Anxiety Disorder, to a specific person or relationship, or even to a past traumatic event they experienced. By helping teens to understand what’s causing their stress, they gain the ability to begin working with their thoughts and emotions, in order to overcome these triggers. By providing teens with these tools and insights into what they’re experiencing, they become empowered and active in their own recovery.
Teens can engage in numerous other types of treatment with their therapeutic team, in order to practice ways in which they can overcome their social fears, one instance at a time, in order to gradually diminish the power that these fears have over their lives. At the same time, another powerful and great resource of our Paradigm home, with relation to this specific disorder, is that teens have the incredible opportunity of interacting and engaging with their peers in a safe, controlled environment, free of judgment. This community experience can be tremendously powerful for teens, as they begin to re-engage with peers in healthy relationships and begin to take part in the fundamental joy of friendships, again.
How does a person with Social Anxiety Disorder participate in a residential program, with other teens?
Yes, it’s true that teens coming to us at Paradigm with Social Anxiety Disorder might be particularly nervous and sensitive about what it will be like to engage in treatment, alongside other teens. However, what’s important to remember is that all teens that come to Paradigm are here to address challenges and obstacles in their own lives that are scary and overwhelming, albeit different challenges, according to each individual teen. Although initially this can cause teens to feel significant stress in beginning treatment, ultimately, it’s these very challenges and common ground that allow the teens to approach each other and engage in a way that is open, safe, non-judgmental, and very healing. Though we are certainly aware and eager to help teens be as comfortable as possible at Paradigm, in certain respects, we’re also very firm believers in helping to facilitate teens to face their challenges, head on, even though this is difficult. In this respect, it might even be true that a residential treatment center of this kind is the most fitting and poignant place a teen with Social Anxiety Disorder can come to, in order to experience powerful recovery that lasts.