From the Kids Help Phone
Causes, signs and ways to cope with the seven most common anxiety disorders.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder makes you feel extremely uncomfortable around groups of people, like in a classroom or at a party. Social anxiety is a lot more extreme than shyness because it stops you from doing things you may enjoy. It can make you avoid places or settings where you may have to interact with others.
Social anxiety can come from a fear of being watched, judged or criticized by others. No one knows for sure why some people struggle with social anxiety and others don’t. It can be caused by:
- Genetics: people in your family may experience social anxiety, too.
- Past experience: social anxiety may develop after a stressful or embarrassing experience or over time.
Signs of social anxiety disorder include:
- racing heart or a “skipping” heartbeat
- sinking feeling
- twitching or tense muscles
- stomach ache
If you’re struggling at school, skipping classes, having trouble making/keeping friends or are worried that you’re using alcohol and/or drugs to cope with your feelings, consider talking to someone you trust. Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868.
How to cope
Here are some tips that may help with social anxiety disorder:
- Read up: get more information on social anxiety. Understanding it can help you find ways to manage it.
- Make a list: write down the “triggers” that affect your anxiety.
- Give yourself credit: if you do something that makes you nervous or anxious, congratulate yourself on trying. Making the effort to conquer your fears is very brave.
- Talk about it: talking gives you a chance to work on an issue with someone else, rather than taking it on by yourself.
Imagine this scenario
Let’s say you blushed when you asked a question in class. How bad would that be? What may happen as a result? How would you feel if you saw someone else make the same “mistake” as you? If they blushed, would you point and laugh? Would you think about it for the rest of the day or forget about it?
Remind yourself of this scenario when you’re feeling anxious. Chances are the embarrassment that feels like a huge deal to you will barely be noticed by others.
Remember, social anxiety disorder is treatable. You don’t have to face this forever. You can call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 if you need to talk.
Panic disorder is when you experience frequent panic attacks. Panic attacks can be triggered by stressful events, but sometimes they just happen.
Panic attacks are often related to specific phobias. They can also be caused by:
- Genetics: people in your family may experience panic attacks, too.
- Past experience: panic attacks may start after a stressful or scary experience.