Social phobia is the fear of being excessively scrutinized or criticized while performing relatively ordinary tasks in public. It is a complicated condition that can present itself in a wide variety of different ways. Unfortunately, many seniors who are dealing with social phobia — or the related and sometimes overlapping condition, social anxiety — struggle to get the professional support that they need.
The good news is that there are treatment options available. With attentive and fully personalized care, an elderly person who has a social phobia can cope with their condition and live the highest possible quality of life. Qualified individuals may even be eligible for EEOICPA and RECA benefits to help them deal with the effects of social phobia.
Understanding Social Phobia in the Elderly
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines social phobia as an “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected” in a social situation. While this condition is similar to social anxiety, it is not necessarily identical. The effects of social phobia are not the same for every person. Sometimes, people dealing with social phobia or social anxiety will avoid going out in public and slowly become more reclusive. In other cases, they will deal with tremendous, unhealthy levels of stress going through relatively normal day-to-day activities. Left untreated and unaddressed, social phobia can dramatically reduce a senior citizen’s quality of life.
Social Isolation is Unhealthy for Senior Citizens
A person who has a social phobia may slowly become more isolated. A person who is experiencing social isolation may develop more pronounced social phobia. Indeed, social phobia and social isolation often act as a feedback loop. This is a major problem — loneliness and social isolation are strongly associated with negative health outcomes, both physically and mentally.
Sadly, social isolation for the elderly is a growing problem in our country. According to data published by the AARP, more than one third of older adults in the United States report feeling “lonely” on a regular basis. If your loved one is dealing with social phobia or social anxiety, medical experts highly recommended that you take proactive measures to prevent them from being even more socially isolated. Do not let the problem linger without attention.
Social Phobia May Be a Symptom of an Underlying Condition
One of the things that make treating social phobia especially complicated is that it can be both a sign of another underlying medical condition and it can be a mental health condition in its own right. If your elderly loved one has developed a strong social phobia, it is highly recommended that you get them a professional medical evaluation. Their social phobia or generalized social anxiety may have been caused by another medical — especially if the social phobia is out of line with their normal personality. In other words, if they suddenly developed social anxiety after never really experiencing it before, that could be a sign of deeper problems. Regardless of the nature of the social phobia, there are many different treatment options available.