The Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Life Following COVID-19

Lockdown measures created a wave of anxiety that was felt across the globe. However, for some, the return to “normal” life may be downright frightening. As restrictions continue to lift across most states, research shows that some are feeling anxious to reconnect.  

Research Shows Lifted Restrictions May Create New Anxieties 

Numerous surveys throughout the pandemic found that levels of depression and anxiety were much higher than normal. This wave of mental health issues is being described as a potential “mental health crisis” — and while this is a trend that health experts will continue to monitor closely, there are also concerns when it comes to how well people will readjust once restrictions are lifted. 

Researchers are particularly concerned about those with social anxiety. While many are excited to reconnect with their friends, family, and coworkers, those with social anxiety may experience anxiety as they begin to socialize again. One reason for this may be due to a reduction in social exposure. 

When treating social anxiety, one of the main evidence-based treatments is exposure therapy. This is also a common therapy used when treating patients with PTSD and OCD. Since social interactions have been limited these past few months, the thought of returning to social gatherings may cause symptoms of social anxiety to flare up. 

Some People May Struggle More Than Others As They Re-Engage 

As discussed, those diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder may experience heightened anxiety as society learns to readjust to the new “norm” — but they’re not the only ones who are likely to struggle. It is believed that those who experienced psychological conditions, such as social anxiety or OCD prior to the pandemic, may have already developed helpful skills in therapy that will allow them to readjust. 

Related: Anxiety – A Reality in the American Life 

However, those who have developed increased symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, without any prior experience, may actually struggle more, as they have never had to manage these types of mental health conditions before. Considering one-third of Americans are showing signs of clinical depression or anxiety, there are a lot of people who currently require support. 

How to Combat Feelings of Anxiety 

Whether feelings of anxiety are new to you or you were actively seeking support for an anxiety disorder prior to COVID, there is a wide range of strategies available that can help you feel less anxious. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapy options available. This therapy will provide you with the skills you require to break the cycle of dysfunctional, negative thought patterns. While CBT has many applications, it is particularly useful when you are aiming to address anxiety disorders and depression. 

There are also numerous lifestyle changes you can make, including regular exercise, a greater focus on quality sleep, and the introduction of mindfulness into your routine. 

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