Can Therapy Help Blushing?

When exposed to stressful events, or even when embarrassed, the body’s natural fight or flight system kicks into gear and releases boosts of adrenaline into the bloodstream.  This extra adrenaline helps to widen blood vessels all over your body by relaxing the muscle tone in blood vessel walls, which in turn causes excessive blood flowing into the blood vessels just below the skin.  This is what causes our face, neck, chest, and ears to turn red and blush.  Most people blush when they’ve done something that is embarrassing, like tripping over their own feet or spilling a drink on someone else.  However, some people also blush without any sort of triggering event.

People with social anxiety are afraid that people will see their blushing negatively, as a sign that they are dishonest or weak.  However, it is possible that others will see someone who is blushing as shy or nervous, sensitive, or even ill.  The fear of blushing actually increases the possibility of the physical response, since the fear activates the fight or flight response and therefore the sympathetic nervous system.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Those with bothersome social anxiety would do well to seek assistance.  Therapists trained in cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT can help the sufferer to understand their beliefs and how those around them view their blushing or sweating- it is possible that others might think that the blushing is cute and not a sign of weakness.

CBT often involves having the sufferer confront their fears, and the situations that cause them to fear blushing and sweating.  Lowering the person’s apprehension about the fearful situations will also cause a decrease in the physical responses.

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