PTSD and Social Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of PTSD – Social Anxiety Disorder

People with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have an increased risk of suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). There have been a number of studies that have examined the co-morbidity of PTSD and SAD, it is generally accepted that having PTSD may make a person more socially anxious than not having PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD are widely acknowledge to make a person feel different to ‘normal’ therefore they may feel anxieous that their friends, family, strangers will react to them differently. An individual that has been subjected to a trauma may feel unable to relate or connect with peers, friends, spouses and colleagues due to the perception that the traumatic event may have changed them in some.

Individuals that suffer from PTSD as a result of warfare or military action, scientific studies have found that between 12 and 15 percent of suffers also have a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder reasons put forward for this is that combat veterans may want to avoid trauma related cues and reminders. Additionally, ‘cultural norms’ may pressure them into feeling they can not show they are suffering as a result of trauma exposure. However, there are changing attitudes towards the stigma of having PTSD after military service.

A further explanation for the co-morbidity or SAD and PTSD is that people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder often report extreme feelings of shame, self-blame and guilt. These emotions may also instigate avoidance from social situations and lead to developing social anxiety disorder. Shame has been assoicated with the fight or flight response, often individuals feel guilty if they froze in the face of the threat, this could be regarded bu ‘social norms’ as cowardly leading to anxiety when speaking about the event. This ‘Freeze Response‘ is an automatic resonse that can not be easily overcome by the areas of the brain that control logic and will.

Mindfulness has been shown to provide effective and long term relief from Anxiety.