Loneliness: Social Anxiety

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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Holisticly’s Loneliness Awareness Campaign 2023
About Us ....................................................................................................................... Glossary ......................................................................................................................... Social Anxiety: An Overview ............................................................................. The Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Loneliness ......... Social Anxiety: Biological, Psychological, and Social Causes .... Coping With Social Anxiety .............................................................................. References ................................................................................................................... 3 4 5 7 9 12 15 Social Health Campaign Loneliness: Social Anxiety
Table of Contents

Social Health Campaign

Loneliness: Social Anxiety

About Us

Holisticly is a progressive technology and operations company that’s revolutionizing the concept of digital health and wellness. Combining AI, telemedicine, and 40+ years of experience, we’re committed to improving health literacy worldwide, promoting preventive care, and providing integrative and digitized health solutions to a global community.

Our Holisticly® app combines state-of-the-art technology and telehealth, enabling us to provide clients with affordable and personalized health solutions that match their needs, desires, and lifestyles.

At Holisticly, we look at the person as whole; we cater to your body, mind, soul, and surroundings. We strive to bring our vision to life through the application of our unique combination of digital health services and our holistic approach toward wellness:

We aspire that our global community of users become inspired to make better-informed decisions about their wellbeing, ultimately leading healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives.


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Loneliness: Social Anxiety


DSM (DSM-5): This is an abbreviation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the number “5” refers to the fifth edition of this book. It’s used by experts and qualified mental health specialists to help them understand and accurately diagnose a mental health disorder.

Anxiety Disorder: This is a mental health condition that causes the person diagnosed with it to respond to situations deemed dangerous in excessive or inappropriate ways. This may interfere with their ability to function throughout the day. Anxiety disorder has plenty of variations, some of which are generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Coincidentally, a person can develop more than one anxiety disorder at the same time.

Introversion: This is a characteristic that leads the introverted person to appear somewhat withdrawn; they’re quiet so they tend to keep to themselves. An introverted person doesn’t mind social situations per se, they’d just rather be with their inner thoughts and immersed in their own world.

Self-Compassion: This refers to our ability to be kind to ourselves, forgive ourselves, and love ourselves for who we are. Self-compassion poses as an emotional guard to protect us from negative attitudes, such as judging ourselves and harshly contemplating past events, which can lead to isolation.

Self-Esteem: This is our perception of our worth or value; our own validation and satisfaction of ourselves.


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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety: An Overview

Misconceptions about social anxiety disorder, otherwise known as social phobia, are no new phenomenon. Some people often confuse being introverted, or being shy, with living with social anxiety and vice versa. People who refrain from social gatherings or appear reserved are often believed to be living with anxiety. Perhaps they’re simply not a people’s person, or just feel the need to perfect their social skills so that they don’t act awkwardly in a social situation.

In reality, being shy or introverted is one thing, living with social anxiety disorder is another. Social anxiety, according to the DSM-5, is a mental health condition that triggers intense and perpetual fear and anxiousness during social situations. Oftentimes the social situation is seen as a bigger threat than it actually is.

Interestingly, experiencing social phobia is quite common! It’s estimated that between 5% to 10% of the world’s population is living with social anxiety, and it’s considered the third most frequent disorder in the world, after depression and substance disorder!


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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can manifest itself in three levels: mild, moderate, and intense:

• A moderate level of social anxiety may have the person deliberately refrain from certain social engagements.

An individual living with mild social anxiety may tolerate social gatherings, yet experience physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, or psychological symptoms like feeling highly self-conscious.

• An individual with an intense level of social anxiety will generally avoid attending any social engagements whatsoever. Apart from experiencing physical and psychological symptoms of social anxiety, they might experience panic attacks as well.

The symptoms of social phobia vary from one person to the other; while one person might experience them all, the other might experience just a few of them. Some of the physical symptoms include blushing, shaking, panting, muscle tension, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and vertigo. The psychological and behavioral symptoms on the other hand, span from a heightened anxiety of social situations, and overwhelming self-consciousness, to scrutinizing every action and anticipating the worst-case scenario out of every social situation.

But how is social anxiety related to loneliness? Let’s find out!


Loneliness: Social Anxiety

The Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Loneliness

Loneliness and social phobia on their own can be a symptom or an after effect. It all depends on the individual condition of each person, because loneliness is often triggered by a lack of social support and a missing sense of belonging. Having said that, for us to understand the depth of the relationship between social anxiety and loneliness, there are a few personality traits to consider, namely: self-esteem, self-compassion, and self-perception, all of which can affect how susceptible we are to social anxiety disorder.

A study conducted in 2017 investigated the relationship between the participants' self-esteem, level of social anxiety, and their sense of social connectedness. Their findings demonstrated that participants with low self-esteem tended to seek ways to avoid social events. What’s more, they found that said participants didn’t really feel social bonds, nor did they feel supported. In other words, they felt lonely.

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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Whoever said we need to love ourselves first before we love someone else wasn’t fully off base! The inability to show ourselves the love, kindness, and overall compassion that we deserve can be a significant stimulant for social phobia. The curious part about self-compassion, although it sounds simple enough, is that it can affect so much of our lives! Aside from lowering our risks of potential mental health disorders, including social anxiety, it can also help us foster traits such as mindfulness and self-kindness, as well as avoid isolation – a major element behind loneliness.

Another aspect that might trigger social anxiety is self-perception! While it’s commonly interchanged with self-esteem, self-perception represents how we process and interpret our thoughts, emotions, and even behaviors, so that we’re able to define who we are. Since loneliness is greatly affected by our emotional, cognitive, and overall mental health, it’s only natural that the success of our social integration be determined by how positively or negatively we perceive ourselves.


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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety: Biological, Psychological, and Social Causes

Despite the many assumptions that living with social anxiety means we’re living way too much in our own heads, worrying about what others think of us, it’s often untrue! Social anxiety has numerous causal factors; while some may be in our control, others aren't. Yet, we try to handle it to the best of our capabilities. So, what are the causes of social anxiety?

Biological Explanation:

Family history plays a role in triggering social anxiety. In fact, genetics can increase our chances of inheriting generalized anxiety disorder, making us 30% more susceptible to it, and more susceptible to many other conditions within the spectrum of anxiety.

Brain activity can also affect social anxiety; research shows that the amygdala (a structure in the brain that plays a role in controlling our feelings, emotional behavior, and how we perceive stimuli) can majorly impact how we experience social anxiety and even depression –which is another condition that has been associated with feelings of being alienated! When the amygdala is hyperactive, it increases our risk of developing mental health disorders like social anxiety and depression.

1. 2.

Neurotransmitters can also be a contributing factor! Specifically, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are chemicals which actively influence the functioning of the amygdala. Just as well, an imbalance of the serotonin and dopamine levels can cause a person to develop social anxiety disorder.

Hormonal fluctuations are also involved! The hormonal release of corticotropin can stimulate anxiety receptors. Studies have shown that the overexpression of the corticotropin hormone is a very common symptom for those who live with anxiety disorder.

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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Negative self-perception. Some of us might think that we don’t possess the adequate skills to help us ace a social event. This can come from being too self-conscious of our presence in a social situation, or being too focused on people’s expectations of us during social situations.

Contemplating a previous event. Experiencing one or more embarrassing social situations is perfectly normal, but some people can’t help but feel stuck in them; they keep reliving it.

1. 2. Psychological Explanation: 1. 2.

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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Childhood traumas, such as bullying, and different forms of rejection or humiliation can also increase our susceptibility to social anxiety.

Family issues and experiences of abuse or traumatic events can also be major contributors to the development of social anxiety.

Social Explanation:

There is hardly anyone who hasn't dreaded trainwrecking a social event, especially the ones with high stakes! Sometimes we perceive an event or experience to be a defining moment in our lives, be it an interview for an esteemed university, or meeting a partner’s family for the first time.

It’s okay to feel nervous, but it’s important that we set realistic expectations of the social encounter we’re about to have. It’s also important that we give ourselves a pat on the back for the progress we make in becoming better at social engagements.

You’ve got this!

3. 4.

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Loneliness: Social Anxiety

Coping With Social Anxiety

While overcoming social anxiety can be a challenging journey, there are some coping methods that we can use to help us along the way of the healing process.

Dealing with social anxiety can help us understand ourselves better by boosting our self-esteem. It also has the potential to motivate us to regain a certain sense of control over our lives and encourage us to seek a healthier social life!

So, without further ado, here are a few methods to try that have proved effective in helping people cope better with social anxiety:

Start a diary and try to write down your feelings throughout the day to help you reflect on the situations you were in.

Try meditation, physical activities, or breathing exercises as relaxation techniques to reduce your stress level.

Break social situations into smaller parts. Try to get familiar with each phase of these situations, and make an action plan to reduce your feelings of anxiety.

Listen to people, and try not to read too much into their thoughts and opinions. During honest conversations, we might quickly realize that the people we’ve been avoiding are friendly and fun to talk to.

• • • •

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Handling feelings of anxiety can get easier when we’re surrounded by the proper support systems. Reach out for emotional support from your loved ones and try to to discuss your experience with a licensed professional who can help you understand all your options and offer personalized effective treatment paths. You're not alone!

For more information on loneliness, the relationship between loneliness and social media, and how the COVID-19 pandemic and loneliness are connected, check out our other brochures!



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