According to the National Institute of Mental Health, fifteen million Americans or 13% suffer from social anxiety. It is the most common form of anxiety and the fourth most common mental illness. Adolescence is typically where experts find the most onset of this disorder.
The opinions of peers can negatively affect any adolescent into thinking they do not belong. Some young adults and teenagers become so influenced by the opinions of others they develop social anxiety. According to Jennifer Shannon, co-founder of Santa Rose Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that influences a person’s functioning. Those with social anxiety avoid social situations like class or parties all together because they perceive threats of their environment. These threats involve worrying about people looking at you or judging you. Adolescents with social anxiety often create excuses to avoid school or gatherings because their fear of judgement.
Although Jennifer Shannon is an expert in this field, she could not find any resources for her own daughter Rose, so she decided to take matters in her own hands. She wrote the books The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens and The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens as a guide for teens as well as their parents to cope and eventually overcome the disorder. On the bright side, Shannon claims this disease is completely treatable.
Jennifer Shannon runs a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy treatment for patients like her daughter with the hopes of curbing their social anxiety. She uses a method she calls “target practice” to allow patients to slowly face their fears in social situations. Shannon focuses on realistic social goals like smiling and asking questions as a first step to making patients feel more comfortable socializing with their peers. She notes that parents need to look out for consistent patterns in their children like missing school or social functions. If left untreated, symptoms can get worse, however, if parents catch it, they can prevent or help their children beat a disorder.
Jennifer Shannon, co-founder, Santa Rosa Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Santa Rosa, CA and author, The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens and The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens