Posted by: cally | 2009/04/06

social phobia?

I' m scared that my bf is developing some kind of social phobia.
He' s been unemployed for almost 10 months now, and mostly sits at home all day (his car is broken, and doesn' t want to get up early to take me to work then use mine). We can' t afford much airtime, so he' s quite isolated from his friends, as he can' t send many smses. He used to be very sociable and charming before he lost his job.
Now, however, things are different. He' s very clingy with me, and hates it when I have to stay at my flat during the week. He won' t stay with me because he' s afraid my brother will judge him (my brother stay with me, but wouldn' t judge him at all). He refuses to see my family, as he' s embarrassed. He' s strange with his own family, very very critical of them and often says ugly things.
He stays with his mom, and I visit him there, but he' s so clingy that even if I' m a little late getting there he send call-me messages non-stop. He' s okay if he and I go out to buy groceries, or if just the 2 of us go to dinner. However, whenever there' s the prospect of him having to interact with other people on a higher level, he gets physically ill. For example, we were invited to go out dancing at a studio, and he spent half an hour throwing up in nervousness, and was clearly unhappy about it. He went though, and enjoyed himself. One night, before he was scheduled to start a new job, he started projectile vomiting and couldn' t sleep, then refused to get up and go start his new job the following day. needless to say, he lost the job. We went to dinner at a restuarant with his dad last week, but because we had to wait for seats, he chickened out and we had to go home.
How can I draw him back out of this hole that he' s in? I love him so much and it hurts me to see him changing into a social recluse.

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Our expert says:
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I didn't think at first that this sounds so much like social phobia ( though I could fully see why you'd think that ), more like a depressed giving up, or a lazy can't be bothered attitude. Yes, it's understandable that he may feel embarrassed about what some other people might think of him ---but he should react to that not by acting in ways that will reduce that they think of him, but by working towards becoming proud of himself again. But then your later passages about becoming physically ill when facing even a pleasant social gathering, do indeed sound more like social phobia.
Consider exploring with the Anxiety-Depression support group whether he might be helped by some of their group meetings. And can he go to a clinic for asessment, diagnosis and treatment ? Whether this is primarily a depression of a social anxiety disorder, he could be greatly helped by the right treatment.

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