Obstacles to Getting Help for Social Anxiety Disorder

Woman staring at her phone.
Taking the first step toward getting help is always the hardest.. Getty / Cultura / Liam Norris

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) often goes undiagnosed and untreated. It makes sense when you think about it—the very thing you are afraid to do is what you need to do to get help.

Perhaps you are confined to your home out of fear. Maybe you don't have the nerve to call your doctor. Maybe you don't know how to bring it up to your parents.

The bottom line is that you live with your anxiety day-to-day because you can't seem to break free from the situation you are in.

These are known as obstacles to treatment, and there are always ways of getting around them.

Here are 6 common barriers to getting help, and some counter-responses that you may wish to consider when these ideas pop into your head.

Q. I don't know where to start.

A. Start anywhere!

You don't have to have it all figured out before you take that first step. There are so many ways that you could try to get help. Go to Psychology Today and use their therapist finder to find someone who treats social anxiety disorder in your area. Go to Live Person and find a therapist who understands SAD. Go to a bookstore and buy a self-help book! Sign up for a two-week immersion program with the Social Anxiety Institute. Do anything! You have to take a first step, and it does not really matter what it is.

Q. I am too afraid to make the call.

A. Then don't call! Send an email. Send a letter. Order a singing telegram online.

Do whatever it takes to make contact with whatever means you have. There is always a way, when you think hard enough.

Q. I think I should be able to deal with this on my own.

A. Would tell someone with schizophrenia to get over it? Would you tell an anorexic person to just eat a hot dog? It's not as simple as it seems, and you may not be able to talk yourself out of your problems.

If you've got severe social anxiety, this is not a problem you can solve on your own.

Q. I am afraid of losing who I am.

A. You can still be quiet and introverted but not socially anxious. You don't have to change your personality to get over SAD. Social anxiety is holding you back from expressing your true personality, rather than being a part of it. Don't mistake your anxiety as being a part of you. It's an entity unto itself that has no business messing up your life.

Q. I am afraid it will be in my record and affect future job prospects, etc.

A. If your anxiety is severe, your job prospects are being affected anyway. There is no shame in having accommodations at work so that you can function better. Success is better measured by what you had to overcome to get where you are, rather than where you end up.

Q. I am too nervous to tell someone my problems.

A. Of course you are! You have not dealt with your social anxiety yet. It will get easier, and you won't feel as uncomfortable at the end as you do at the beginning.

It's always going to feel that way at the start, you just have to push through it.

Continue Reading