SPECIAL BUSINESS HEALTH EDITION: Have You Been in Hiding Because Social Stress Is Just Too Much?


Social anxiety and depression have become closely linked in today’s society. Sometimes the stress of all we have to do on a daily basis just becomes too much and the first thing we do is withdraw.

Withdrawing from civilization as much as we can without jeopardizing a job or other things necessary to maintain our lives is a direct result of the fast-paced society we live in today.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as eating a salad or exercising. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find the answers to our need to withdraw. When you’re depressed, you may feel the need to withdraw from the crowds – or you may be depressed because you’re socially anxious.

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If you’re a normally socially active person, isolating yourself by refusing to participate in outside activities may cause you to lose interest in life and even make you fear social encounters.

This fear can develop into chronic depression, bipolar disorder or dysthymia (PPD – persistent depressive disorder). These disorders have a better chance of developing if you’re especially fearful of many social situations.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) can also put you at risk for such problems as addiction to alcohol or other substances, inability to function at work and may render you less likely to respond positively to treatment. It could also increase your risk of suicide.

Social withdrawal is different than social anxiety disorder or depression. A good example of social withdrawal is the person who avoids social interaction because they have a poor self-image or fear they’ll embarrass themselves.

Those who are depressed because of social anxiety don’t think of social interaction as a positive event. They think of going out and being with friends as a negative because of fear of other’s evaluation.

Those who suffer from SAD think they might enjoy social interaction, but also think they don’t know how to socialize with others. Most people won’t seek help for a social anxiety disorder or the depression it causes.

It doesn’t help in the long run to be treated for social anxiety caused by stress. The underlying issues must be addressed for the treatment to be effective. Stress relief for social issues may be as easy as learning some relaxation techniques that you can put into practice before social interaction.

Or, you may need to think deeper and more analytic to get to the root causes of the social stress you’re experiencing. If you find yourself going into hiding or making excuses for not being socially active, you may want to speak with your health care provider.

You might also want to try some simple stress relievers such as deep breathing, Yoga, tai chi and meditation before social events to relax your mind and body.

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