The computer has patently not helped us to interact with others. Instead of communicating face to face and developing relationships within the family and at work, many of us - kids, teenagers and adults - spend hours in front of the computer, cut off from genuine human contact. Today, you can, if you choose, virtually lead your life via the Internet - you can do your shopping, click on to chat rooms for conversations and even have a relationship over the net. Dating and communication anxiety is very common, as the insecurities we have about ourselves can negatively affect the way we communicate. Using the Internet can make the initial process less stressful, but of course it throws up many other problems, not least of which are the expectations both parties have built up before they meet.
Social and communication anxiety is often based on perception rather than feedback from others. People with social and communication anxiety become very conscious of the signals that they are giving out and can easily find themselves blushing, tongue-tied or unable to eat, drink or talk; or the opposite - eating or drinking too much to cope with the situation. And, not surprisingly, this social and communication anxiety can often exacerbate an already difficult situation.
Men and women can suffer equally from social and communication anxiety. In the US, it is estimated there are around 5.3 million sufferers.
Communication anxiety stems from a bigger source of phobia: social phobia. Social phobia is an extreme type of anxiety in which a phobic reaction can occur at even the thought of being in a social situation. This can escalate into chronic, excessive fear that is deeply distressing to the individual - especially as they are aware at a rational level that the very thing that is making them anxious is harmless. To be diagnosed as a social phobic you must have had the problem for at least six months and the phobia must interfere with your life.
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