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Social Anxiety and COVID-19

Those who live with social anxiety have an intense and constant fear of embarrassment and humiliation or rejection from other people. This often leads to people avoiding certain social situations. When COVID-19 hit, social situations and experiences were shut down. People were told to self-isolate and to maintain social distancing. On one hand, physical distancing and lack of interaction may induce anxiety, however for those who suffer from social anxiety, physical distance and less social interaction may provide some relief.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people with social anxiety may notice that they speak quietly, provide minimal detail in response to questions, avoid eye contact and feel anxious making video or phone calls.

Although short term relief in the COVID-19 pandemic may occur, avoiding social interaction can also maintain social anxiety. One of the most common forms of treatment for social anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is a module that includes gradual exposure to social situations.

CBT and exposure techniques allow those with social anxiety to challenge the thoughts and beliefs that are causing their embarrassment and fears. Exposure gives those the opportunity to challenge their thoughts and beliefs and make progress towards lessening the fear and embarrassing feelings associated with social interactions. When it comes to COVID-19, those who feel social anxiety and more comfort when removing themselves from social situations may find it more difficult to adjust when it’s time to resume to normal activities.

Therapists use CBT to treat social anxiety by asking clients to identify and challenge their negative beliefs regarding socialization. The exposure piece comes in where clients are asked to carry out behavior experiments to test out coping skills in these difficult situations.

Isolation and social distancing due to the pandemic can have negative effects on mental health, so it’s very important to stay connected. Some solutions for social connection in the pandemic include connecting by text or phone, video conferencing, using social media, and sending emails.

If you’re experiencing social anxiety due to the pandemic, or experiencing concern regarding your mental health, call or email us to schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists.

written by Wendy Epstein, MSW-I

Wendy strives to provide clients with individualized, goal-oriented therapy. She utilizes CBT along with grounding and breathwork techniques to help her clients feel centered, balanced and in control. Drawing on her education, as well as her own experiences with difficult family relationships, grief, and loss; Wendy helps her clients harness their strengths and resourcefulness to develop confidence in themselves and their ability to heal.