All Posts in Category: Social Anxiety

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Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety: Simple Steps To Start Living Again After Covid

My colleagues and I have noticed a dramatic increase in anxiety and anxiety-related disorders over the past two pandemic years. While apprehension is a typical response during times of strife, as we return to more normal lives, many people have been caught off-guard to realize how uncomfortable they now are in social situations – especially if they were never fearful before.

And for those who were challenged with social anxiety prior to Covid, being distanced from others for two years was a blessing in disguise. They were able to stay in their comfort zones, skip distressing situations entirely, and avoid in-person interactions. Now that everything is changing, they worry about venturing out once again.

But, if we consider that we’ve been fairly sequestered from each other for such a long time, it makes sense that social anxiety is now present in so many people. Although strict social distancing measures were necessary, they helped us feel protected and stay safe, which makes it all the harder to let go and start interacting socially now.

In addition, many people experienced a great deal of trauma, uncertainty and fear during the pandemic. They learned to associate social situations with infection. As a result, they now feel vulnerable around others, and those helpless feelings will be hard to shake as the pandemic moves into the endemic stage.

Is It Normal That I Feel Anxious After The Pandemic?

Some emotional aspects of social anxiety involve perceived feelings of judgment and disapproval by others. Physical signs include sweating, a racing heart, difficulty concentrating, and feeling nauseous. For many, simply thinking about going out socially could bring on any of these symptoms or a combination of them.

Superficial differences also contribute to social anxiety, especially now. Some people have already dropped Covid protocols, but others will continue to hold tightly to safety measures, like mask-wearing and standing away from people. Consequently, those who don’t do the same may feel judged for their own relaxed standards.

For example, if they go to a social event unmasked, they may spend the entire time feeling extremely anxious around those who are wearing one. They might become nauseous or break out in a cold sweat when interacting with a masked person – even if they are surrounded by family or friends.

They may also have problems concentrating or focusing on conversations. Feeling confident in themselves could seem next to impossible when they are convinced that everyone is staring at them.

If this happens often enough or their reaction is strong enough, their anxiety might cause them to avoid social situations entirely. While doing so brings short-term relief, continuing to evade people over time can lead to isolation and a feeling of being disconnected from others.

How To Deal With Social Anxiety After Covid

Some of us will fill our social calendars in the coming months while others will struggle emotionally with the current relaxed social standards.

If you are feeling anxious about resuming a social life, don’t accept every invitation, at first. Remember that this is a time of transition for everyone. Be choosy about which social gatherings you attend, limit yourself to the ones that enforce similar personal protocols, and give yourself a breather in between them.  

The same goes for your return to the office. If you are able to be flexible, take baby steps when going back into the workplace. Perhaps you can go into the office one day a week for the first week or two, and then slowly increase your number of days from there.

If you can’t ease your way back into the workplace, reach out to others for support. Most likely many people you know will have already been in the office for a few weeks. Ask them how they handled their nerves when they went back. What did they do to cope? No doubt, they found each successive work day a little easier to manage as they got used to their old routine.

Be kind to yourself during this transition, as well. Keep in mind that, as is frequently the case with social anxiety, the anticipation is often worse than the actual event.

Try to eat a good diet, relax and do something you enjoy, and get a good night’s sleep the day (or weekend) before you go back into the office. Above all, avoid anything that might stress you and negatively affect your first days back.

Additionally, it is crucial to stay positive and optimistic, even when social interactions are difficult or uncomfortable. With time and patience, it is possible to manage social anxiety during this difficult period and eventually regain your normal routine.

If social anxiety is still causing significant distress or impairment in your life even after trying these strategies, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you explore other options and develop a treatment plan that works for you.

Did You Know? We’re a Regional Clinic for the National Social Anxiety Center

The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida is a regional center for the National Social Anxiety Center. Our certified therapists provide compassionate care and have specialized training in social anxiety treatment and virtual reality therapy. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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woman wearing face mask

What We Have Learned From 2021

No one can deny that 2021 has been a momentous year. It has had a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly for sure. It has at times been frightening, confusing, comforting and educational. We have witnessed a very unusual presidential election, a subsequent denial by some of the validity of the election and an unheard of polarization of our peers and lawmakers. Most critically, we have endured a gift that keeps on giving; the novel coronavirus that has killed countless people world-wide and more fellow Americans than we would have ever anticipated. We have had to learn the meaning of the word epidemiology as it relates to health and wellness. Unfortunately, we now know explicitly what a spike protein is and looks like. More than ever before we have been influenced (for good and bad) by the internet and social media. Although we have been witness to conspiracy theories in the past, but this year has certainly been a boon time for them.

So it is important for us to sit back and take stock of the emotional and psychological impact of these events. A major fallout has been the confusion over what is fact and what is fiction. We have seen the major news networks disagreeing on many important issues. Who to believe? Proponents of networks that broadcast their unique take on the news may be diametrically opposite of the proponents of the “other” networks. To avoid getting into trouble I will leave the network names blank, but I am sure you know what I am talking about. There was a time in the 1950s and 1960s when veteran newscasters like Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Douglas Edwards educated us nightly on national and world events. Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” conveyed the power and influence of the media. Somewhere during the subsequent decades all this has changed. It became apparent to television and radio that communicating news is basically a form of entertainment. Like most popular entertainment venues it becomes essential to be able to sell the programs to the masses. Media outlets have always been for profit businesses (exceptions being Public Radio and Public Television) but it seems that profitability became linked to the entertainment value of their shows. Newscasters and news commentators became the entertainers that we see today. Walter Cronkite would not succeed as a newscaster in 2021.

Along comes the world wide web and internet bringing to us the 24/7 experience of social media. Humanity has not been the same since. Due to the openness of social media to anyone with internet access, a huge amount of content has appeared on the screens and podcasts of this world. An interesting paradox has developed. Most social media participants should realize that what they see and hear reflects subjective information. However, at the same time, we are witnessing the tremendous influence of social media on the minds of attendees. It is as if misinformation has become the norm. Conspiracy theories have had a heyday. Part of the problem is that human beings have a strong tendency to be voyeurs. They like to be entertained. We are drawn to the unusual, fantastic and bizarre. Hence the success of reality TV no matter how strange or sensationalistic it can be. Consider the popularity of horror movies going back to the days of black and white silent films. It does appear that what we have been witnessing is the natural evolution of multimedia fueled by both the profit motive and the change in its audience. 

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Helping Students with Anxiety Succeed in School (Regardless of the Format)

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Join our panel of five experts from around the US for a roundtable discussion on best practices for helping students with anxiety learn to meet their demands at school, gain confidence, and thrive. Top clinicians and innovative educators will share trends, insights, tips, and resources for professionals who work with students and their families. Bring your questions to this lively conversation that will help you better support students with anxiety.

Join Us:

Date: Thursday, January 28
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER NOW

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Girls 6-Week Life and Social Skills Group:
Begins July 26, 2016

Girls Life and Social Skills Group

Helping children acquire the foundational skills for success in social relationships

To register, please call (561) 496-1094

Age: Girls ages 10 to 14

Date and Time: Tuesdays from 4:45-5:45 P.M. beginning July 26th

Location: 4600 Linton Blvd. Suite 320, Delray Beach, Florida 33445

Cost: $600 for six week series including parent intake
Sessions will occur on a weekly basis for six weeks. A parent intake is required for participation.

Groups will help your child to:

  • Foster successful peer relationships
  • Develop and improve self-monitoring skills
  • Improve frustration tolerance
  • Increase social understanding
  • Improve perspective taking
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Reduce anxiety related to social functioning
  • Develop and improve problem-solving and conflict resolution skills

Why are child social skills important?

Social skills are the foundation for getting along with others and having a well-rounded, successful child. From family and peer relationships to getting along at work or school, social skills are an essential part of life. Training in social skills can help your child to navigate social situations with a greater confidence.

Groups will focus on learning to initiate and maintain conversations with peers, increase self confidence in various social environments and gain a greater understanding about the verbal and nonverbal behaviors involved in social interaction.

To register, please call (561) 496-1094


About the Presenter

Ryan-JosephDr. Ryan Seidman is a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in the treatment of children, young adults, parents, and their families. Her primary focus is on social and emotional concerns, developmental disabilities, employment and school-related difficulties, and behavioral challenges. She utilizes various modalities to treat each client’s unique needs including individual counseling, behavioral interventions, social skills training, family therapy, parent education and training, and group therapy. Dr. Seidman has provided consultative services to a variety of school personnel and medical professionals throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Moreover, she has extensive experience conducting developmental, psychoeducational, neuropsychological and psychological evaluations.

Dr. Seidman graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and then went on to earn her Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She has worked in a variety of settings including private practice, non-profit agencies, community mental health centers, substance abuse rehabilitation facilites, schools, university clinics, and hospitals.

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Boys 6-Week Life and Social Skills Group:
Begins July 27, 2016

Boys Life and Social Skills Group

Helping children acquire the foundational skills for success in social relationships

To register, please call (561) 496-1094

Age: Boys ages 10 to 14

Date and Time: Wednesdays from 4:45-5:45 P.M. beginning July 27th

Location: 4600 Linton Blvd. Suite 320, Delray Beach, Florida 33445

Cost: $600 for six week series including parent intake
Sessions will occur on a weekly basis for six weeks. A parent intake is required for participation.

Groups will help your child to:

  • Foster successful peer relationships
  • Develop and improve self-monitoring skills
  • Improve frustration tolerance
  • Increase social understanding
  • Improve perspective taking
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Reduce anxiety related to social functioning
  • Develop and improve problem-solving and conflict resolution skills

Why are child social skills important?

Social skills are the foundation for getting along with others and having a well-rounded, successful child. From family and peer relationships to getting along at work or school, social skills are an essential part of life. Training in social skills can help your child to navigate social situations with a greater confidence.

Groups will focus on learning to initiate and maintain conversations with peers, increase self confidence in various social environments and gain a greater understanding about the verbal and nonverbal behaviors involved in social interaction.

To register, please call (561) 496-1094


About the Presenter

Ryan-JosephDr. Ryan Seidman is a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in the treatment of children, young adults, parents, and their families. Her primary focus is on social and emotional concerns, developmental disabilities, employment and school-related difficulties, and behavioral challenges. She utilizes various modalities to treat each client’s unique needs including individual counseling, behavioral interventions, social skills training, family therapy, parent education and training, and group therapy. Dr. Seidman has provided consultative services to a variety of school personnel and medical professionals throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Moreover, she has extensive experience conducting developmental, psychoeducational, neuropsychological and psychological evaluations.

Dr. Seidman graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and then went on to earn her Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She has worked in a variety of settings including private practice, non-profit agencies, community mental health centers, substance abuse rehabilitation facilites, schools, university clinics, and hospitals.

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Fear of Public Speaking

We’ve all experienced it: you have to give a presentation and you’re stressing about getting up in front of a room full of people. What’s the first thing everyone always says? “Just picture your audience naked,” they’ll tell you with a chuckle. While that can work for a few people, for many, a fear of public speaking is no laughing matter. Studies have shown that some speakers can’t even calm down after beginning their speech: instead, they become increasingly more nervous as their lecture goes on. For these people, even presenting their ideas to a small group in a workplace meeting can be a harrowing experience.

It’s no secret that glossophobia or fear of public speaking is the number one fear reported by people in the United States. This anxiety comes from a worry about being judged and often has origins in social anxiety. Speech anxiety has increased in today’s cyber-world of communication where we are often “faceless” and can remain relatively anonymous by sending emails or texting instead of speaking directly to people.

Tips for Overcoming Speech Anxiety

For many people, a fear of public speaking can often be helped by learning a few skills:

  • Know your topic: the more you know about your topic, the less you will stress if you accidentally lose your train of thought or make a mistake.
  • Practice your speech: go over (and over) your presentation in front of a supportive friend or coworker (videoing yourself can also be helpful). Have them ask questions about your topic so you are prepared to give answers. Also, ask them for feedback and consider making any changes they might suggest.
  • Visualize a successful outcome. Mentally picture yourself being announced, approaching the lectern or stage, smiling at your audience, presenting your slides or PowerPoint images. See yourself being congratulated for your ideas and shaking hands with the admiring people you’ve spoken in front of.
  • Be prepared – organize your slides or handouts, listen to any audio clips, and run through your presentation from start to finish so you can see how it “flows.”
  • Bring water with you to the podium in case your mouth gets dry or you need to take a quick pause to regroup.
  • Clasp your hands together or stand with your knees slightly flexed to help keep them from trembling if you are nervous and shaky.
  • Take a few deep breaths and smile (even though smiling is probably the last thing you’ll want to do!). Deep breathing helps you relax and studies have shown that smiling can help lower your heart rate and aid in physiological recovery after stressful situations.
  • Focus on your material instead of your audience.
  • Keep in mind that audiences will generally sympathize with a nervous speaker, so try not to worry about appearing uneasy or anxious.
  • After your speech, mentally congratulate yourself for putting yourself up there in front of everyone! Write down some of the positive aspects of your lecture (did you remember to make eye contact with your audience or toss out statistics without a mistake?). Focusing on the positives will help keep you from over-analyzing any slip-ups you made (even world-class speakers make mistakes!).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Public Speaking Anxiety

In many cases, the apprehension we experience before giving a speech can be used as a way to focus: in our nervousness, we go over and over the points we want to make and read through our notes repeatedly which helps ingrain them in our memory. For some individuals, however, instead of focusing on the details of the presentation they are about to give, they will zero in on their own physical symptoms and won’t be able to settle in once they’ve begun to talk. They’ll turn their attention to how their hands are shaking or how nauseous they are and they’ll become progressively more anxious as their lecture goes on.

Often, they end up carrying that anxiety over after the speech ends, too, so they stay keyed up instead of relaxing – even to the point of becoming physically ill. For these people, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) done through a licensed mental health professional can help quickly identify and challenge inaccurate or negative thinking. CBT can often provide coping mechanisms that can help them gain confidence and overcome their public speaking anxiety.

Keep in mind that not everyone who benefits from cognitive behavioral therapy has a mental health condition. In the case of “stage fright”, CBT simply gives you the power you need to cope with a public speaking situation in a more effective and healthier way. Because CBT utilizes a goal-effective approach, it can be an effective tool to help you learn how to better manage the stress of speech anxiety.

Learn More

If these tips and tricks don’t help you when it’s time for your next public lecture, it might be helpful to speak with a mental health professional like Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. For more information, call them at 561-496-1094 or Contact Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Online Therapy and Internet Counseling

In today’s stressful world, approximately 20% of Americans suffer from mental health concerns. While many of us have experienced occasional periods of anxiety or a feeling of being overwhelmed, most of us have just come to accept the tension and demands in our life. But for the 1 in 5 Americans who have true depressive or anxiety disorders, everyday stresses represent something more intense. These burdens begin affecting their home life and relationships and start impacting their work; all clear signs of an anxiety disorder.

The best way someone with an anxiety disorder can help themselves is by seeking therapy. Licensed therapists can evaluate your concerns and determine the best treatment options available for your situation. The only problem with this, until recently, is that all types of therapy have required a visit to the therapist’s office, making it difficult for certain people to obtain the help they need. Those who may not have been able to easily seek help in the past are:

  • People who live in rural areas, where the nearest office could be hours away from their home
  • Agoraphobics – those people with a phobia of going outside
  • People with social anxiety disorder
  • People with mobility constraints

 Internet Therapy

Enter the virtual therapist. This is psychotherapy that’s done electronically via resources like Skype and FaceTime. The emergence of online therapy and phone therapy has revolutionized the way counseling is performed. In addition to making treatment more accessible to people, there are a number of positive reasons to consider internet counseling as the preferred way to seek professional help:

  • Increased comfort: imagine being able to complete your therapy from your very own couch in the safety and comfort of the familiar surroundings in your home.
  • Increased options for therapists: if the therapist you want to see or need to see isn’t conveniently located near you, you can still use their services.
  • Increased availability to continue therapy while traveling for work or while on vacation.
  • Increased privacy: there’s no concern that you’ll run into someone you know while sitting in the waiting room of your virtual therapist.
  • Time saved from having to drive to and from the psychologist’s office.

 Is Online Therapy Right For You?

Just like anything else, there are important things to consider before jumping into phone therapy or internet counseling:

  • Ask your therapist about HIPAA compliance to ensure your electronic communications will be kept confidential.
  • A physical doctor’s office guarantees solitude and quiet to discuss your concerns: can your virtual therapist ensure they will provide a similar environment when engaging in therapy at your convenience?
  • State licensure: while internet therapy does offer more convenience, you will most likely still need to use a therapist who is licensed in your state. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a topic of conversation.
  • It may not be possible for your therapy to be 100% electronic. Some concerns may require visits to local clinics for in-person assessing.

What to Expect

So how does online therapy appointment differ from a regular in-person appointment? The short answer is, it doesn’t – for the most part. Aside from the fact that you’ll be talking to your therapist through a device, your internet therapy appointment should be very similar to a typical appointment in a physical office.

Your psychotherapist will work with you to go through the same exercises and analysis as they normally would if you were sitting in their office. Additionally, some therapists may periodically assign videos to watch or “homework” assignments that can be submitted electronically, but even these won’t be much different than what an in-person therapist might ask of you.

So how do you get started? Not every therapist is equipped to administer online therapy or provide internet counseling. But Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida is ready to receive your call and make getting help easier. Contact them at 561-496-1094 or contact Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Compassion Focused Therapy for Social Anxiety

It’s not unusual for people to get nervous in certain social situations. Preparing to give a speech and meeting a group of people you don’t know are both great examples of situations where it’s perfectly understandable to experience a little anxiety. However, there is a big difference between small amounts of anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder develops when those little fears become so intense that you go out of your way to avoid any situations that will trigger them. And, when that avoidance begins to negatively impact your daily life or family it may be time to seek some professional help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the most common treatments for social phobia is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of systematic desensitization addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at ourselves and the world. There are two main components to this approach:

  • Cognitive therapy examines how your negative thoughts can contribute to your social anxiety.
  • Behavior therapy analyzes the way you behave and react in those situations that trigger your anxiety.

There are three main steps involved in this form of therapy:

  • Identifying your negative thoughts: this can include recognizing what those thoughts include, the specific situations they occur in conjunction with, and recognizing them for the harmful thoughts they are.
  • Challenging your negative thoughts: during this step you’ll question the evidence for your frightening thoughts, weigh the pros and cons associated with them, and conduct experiments to test the validity of these thoughts.
  • Replacing negative thoughts with realistic ones: as you become more adept at recognizing your anxiety-provoking thoughts, you can begin to practice converting those thoughts into positive imaging.

The Compassionate Approach

While cognitive behavioral therapy has become widely recognized as an effective treatment for social anxiety disorder, there are aspects of it that can be difficult for many people. It can be a great challenge to identify positive thoughts or to replace them with realistic ones. Oftentimes people can recognize the benefit of this systematic desensitization approach but understanding the logic doesn’t necessarily make the treatment easier to complete.

This is where compassion focused therapy comes in. People who experience social phobia are apt to be self-critical and filled with thoughts of shame and anger because of how the anxiety affects them. Compassionate-focused therapy helps individuals reverse those thoughts through compassionate engagement. The theory behind this therapy states that we are “at our most flourishing” when we:

  • See evidence that we are cared about and valued
  • Are caring, helping, and valuing others
  • Are mindful and sympathetic of our own feelings

By demonstrating the skills and attributes of compassion, the therapist instils these values in the patient. As a consequence, the patient is aided to develop an internal compassionate relationship with themselves – one that will replace the blaming, condemning and self-critical person they may feel they are.

In other words, by learning to be empathetic and non-judgmental of others it can become easier to give yourself a break, as well. While many might view compassion as a personality trait, the reality is that it is a skill you can be trained in. This therapy helps to foster the attributes of that skill.

 Need More Assistance?

It can be difficult to convert your negative thoughts into a positive mindset when you’re in the midst of social anxiety disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from social anxiety, seeking professional help can be the most direct path to reclaiming your life.

For more information about compassion-based cognitive behavioral therapy, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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