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Question
Posted by: Jean | 2005/07/20

Social anxiety

Hi Doc,
I just read Moniques post (18885), strange enough it answered a few questions I had... (Good answer by the way...)
I do think that I suffer with social anxietey disorder. I want to get a panic attack every time i am invited to a social gathering. I do have a few close friends, but forming those relationships took about 4 years. I wouldnt say that I trust people easily... I really battle to communicate with people! When in a conversation, I dont know what to say to them besides "Hello" and maybe ask them a question or two, then the conversation dies off quickly.
When I walk into a room, I get heart palpitations and it feels like everyone is looking at me and can see how nervious I am. I keep telling myself to relax, but the feeling of self-counciousness and stress is so overwhelming, its a losing battle.
This has been going on for such a long time now. Currently I am dating an extroverted guy and I so admire him for the way he can strike up conversations with complete strangers and make so many good friends. He loves people and has no shy bone in his body, even when going to a social gathering not knowing anybody! I can learn alot from that. But whenever his friends invite us for a gathering, I will do anything and everything to avoid it, even fake sickness...
I have such a desire to love people, spend time with them and form relationships, but somehow I just battle to communicate like a normal, relaxed person.
Strange, at work I am a rep for my company and deal so well with clients, chatting and forming good relationships - I think its like a role I put myself in which takes focus off myself...

Thanks in advance ;)

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hi Jean,
Sounds like you may well be right in your self-diagnosis ( though a proper session with a shrink could confirm this ) and proper treatment for social anxiety, both medications and CBT-style counselling, could help greatly. And, as you realize, you have a marvellous opportunity, through your bf, both to use him as a role-model --- notice how he functions, how nothing dreadful hapens when he is socially bold, how he handles it when his approaches to some people don't work out so well ) and it'll also make it much easier for you to get into social situations to test out your new approach to being unafraid socially, and with a trusted support right next to you !
And explore, also, your interesting and insightful observation about how well you function when you have a role to play, rather than being "only" yourself, and when you don't focus so much on yourself. Maybe find other roles to play, not wholl foreign, like "me being comfortable in company", choosing to act AS IF you are already comfortable meeting people --- and find how well you can actually do that !

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Orie | 2005/07/20

I suffer from that anxiety disorder as well and am currenlty undergoing CBT. Well , the last time I attended sessions was about a month ago. They really helped me . I've been busy and had'nt had time to attend any more sessions and I realised that i relapsed. last night my husband asked me why I'm no longer attending the sessions . He told me that he liked the person I was when I was attending therapy. Really when I look back as well , I think of the person i've been and I'm determined to go back again and attend the sessions . But a support group would be an excellent idea . Where are you guys located ? Me - Cape Town

Reply to Orie
Posted by: waterblom | 2005/07/20

A support group...count me in.

Reply to waterblom
Posted by: me2 | 2005/07/20

Hey, I feel exactly the same. Maybe we need to start a support group and talk about our issues. What do you think?

Reply to me2
Posted by: Toto | 2005/07/20

Heya,
I kinda know what you mean. I battle to make friends, just dont feel relaxed and comfortable in social situations. But then there are times when I would for instance, go out with a group of people and be so lively and chat easily. I don't understand this, how can someone just sometimes be shy and sometimes not..
Personally i think it has alot to do with energy, when there is alot of it, then i love going out and mingling with ppl, but when im tired (which is too often) then i kinda just want to sit in a corner and keep my mouth shut

Reply to Toto

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