As a mental health professional, I am seeing an increase in the rate of people dealing with depression and anxiety. While these issues have always been around, they have been occurring at a higher rate in the recent months and years.
The COVID pandemic hit and we all had to put our lives on hold. We were stuck at home, away from our jobs, friends, and family members. The loneliness and fear that followed have led to feelings of depression and anxiety in many people. We found ourselves isolated from the lives we were used to living. Everything became new, unfamiliar, and overwhelming. In addition, during this time, many of us lost friends and loved ones from COVID-19. We had to grieve alone and not be surrounded by the support of others. Now, as we attempt to adjust to the “new normal,” some may feel guilty for surviving and having the opportunity to move forward. The grief of losing people while being alone combined with the guilt of moving forward may lead to depression.
Over the last two years, we have had to adapt to these changes and how we deal with situations and emotions. We have grown to become so comfortable isolated at home that the transition of becoming more social may be challenging. As we are beginning to come out of the pandemic, many must readjust to being back in public and re-entering society. We need to learn how to socialize during these new times with new restrictions. Unfortunately, this transition may come with feelings of anxiety, depression, hesitation, and discomfort.
Some of us may feel anxious in the following situations:
1. Crowded spaces surrounded by people
2. Having to go back to working in an office after working from home for a year or more
3. Fearing catching various illnesses
4. Fearing leaving the comfort of your home
Many will find themselves unsure of the feelings that come with these experiences. As we move towards normalcy, people need to know they are not alone and that reaching out for help is a sign of strength!
Anxiety is when you feel nervous and anticipate the worst in a situation. For example, you may have anxiety over an upcoming event, a test, a relationship, or being alone. However, anxiety is not limited to just these examples. It is possible to feel anxious with just about anything!
The symptoms listed below are signs that you may have anxiety:
1. Feeling nauseous
2. Feeling nervous or tense
3. Having trouble sleeping
4. Feeling tired and weak
5. Having headaches
6. Experiencing palpitations or chest discomfort
7. Experiencing excessive sweating
8. Having a sense of panic
9. Being shaky on your feet
10. Struggling to concentrate or focus on simple tasks
11. Avoiding activities or people who make you feel anxious
12. Overthinking most situations
13. Feeling irritable
14. Variations in your appetite (extreme hunger or no appetite at all)
15. Losing your hair
16. Feeling dizzy or fainting
17. Having dry mouth
18. Having hot flashes
19. Experiencing heavy breathing
20. Having an upset stomach
It is possible for many of us to, at some point in our lives, experience moments of feeling socially awkward.
However, feeling socially awkward can at times be mistaken for Avoidant Personality Disorder or AVPD. Many factors can distinguish the two from each other. Whereas AVPD consists of personality traits and social awkwardness that stem from anxiety. So, the questions are:
Avoidant Personality Disorder is a condition where a person wants to avoid social situations out of fear of being rejected or judged. You often feel inadequate when comparing yourself to others and are highly sensitive to others’ negative judgments of you. Avoidant Personality Disorder differs from social awkwardness in various ways, as mentioned below. People with AVPD will:
Comparatively, socially awkward people might find themselves doing the following:
The main difference between being socially awkward and having AVPD is that socially awkward people are aware they feel this way and understand their feelings. On the other hand, people with AVPD have deep feelings of low self-worth and the intense fear of rejection and isolation. Therefore, those diagnosed with AVPD will avoid these situations where socially awkward people will still engage but feel uncomfortable while doing it.
AVPD is a treatable condition by way of psychotherapy. By using different modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the psychotherapist can help someone become more aware of faulty thought patterns or negative cognitions and help them to modify their ways of thinking.