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Social Anxiety Disorder

Old 01-01-2003, 03:36 PM
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Social Anxiety Disorder

Excerpt from Sue Cleland's journal "Living with Social Anxiety Disorder"....

"To feel fear in your everyday life is such a draining experience. To dread any social contact with anyone whether they know you or not is one of the worst feelings imaginable. It doesn't even need to be contact - just being visible to others was enough to bring on severe bouts of anxiety. Social situations are impossible to control, anything can happen at any time due to the nature of human nature. At any time, you could be asked to, or expected to make some contribution to conversation, at any time you may be walking along and trip in front of a line of cars, or people waiting at the traffic lights. At any time, someone beside you might have a sneezing fit, or their mobile phone might ring, which would surely attract public attention to that person, and if you are in the vicinity of them, public attention to yourself - oh no, what a horror! Maybe you have a hair out of place, or that pimple you pushed that morning on the top of your nose feels like it is the size of a golf ball. What are people going to say about you if they see you, what are they going to think? "Look at her, look at that pimple - I'm glad I don't have a face like hers." But deep down, what you are really afraid of is the belief that people can see your fear, that they know you are scared and a quivering mess inside. The whole time you feel so vulnerable like the essence of who you are, your fears, your past experiences, your weaknesses are all exposed, to be analysed, critised and judged by everyone who comes in contact with you.

I was unable to look into anyone's eyes, whether it be my parents, my close friends, acquaintances or people I had never met before without feeling that they were seeing all my insecurities, fears and failures. The eyes are the essence of the soul, and the pathway to the soul. Whenever I had contact with someone's eyes, the only thought that ever occupied my mind was - they can see my fear, they think I'm weak, hopeless, useless, ugly, etc. For this reason, my memory for conversations is incredibly poor, because I was there in person, but I was not there at all. I was unable to focus on what anyone was saying to me as my head was constantly preoccupied with what I believed other people were thinking of me. It never occurred to me that the person who was talking to me was thinking about what they were saying, not about me…. services.


Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is a fear of being embarrassed, judged or evaluated negatively in social situations. Because of this fear, the person with Social Anxiety Disorder experiences physical symptoms of anxiety, and as a result tends to avoid the social interaction or social situation that brings on the symptoms of anxiety. The level of anxiety experienced by the person with Social Anxiety disorder is excessive, and results in substantial impairment in the person's social, emotional, interpersonal and occupational life.

Equally common in men and women and found across all cultures, Social Anxiety Disorder is estimated to affect approximately three percent of the population of Australia, and as many as eight percent of the population of the USA.

Characteristically, Social Anxiety Disorder develops in the mid-teenage years. The World Psychiatric Association suggests that as many as ninety-five percent of those who have Social Anxiety Disorder will have developed the disorder before the age of twenty. If left untreated, Social Anxiety Disorder can add to the onset of other developmental problems, and other conditions such as depression, avoidant personality disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, and sometimes suicide.

The most common situations that are feared by people who have Social Anxiety Disorder can include one or all of the following; speaking in public, eating and drinking in public, writing (or using a keyboard) in front of others, meeting new people, meeting or talking with people in positions of authority, meeting or talking to members of the opposite sex, being watched doing something, and being teased.

When the person who has Social Anxiety Disorder is confronted by the feared situation, or even just thinks about the feared situation, extreme symptoms of anxiety result. The symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder include one, or all of the following: high levels of anxiety when exposed to the feared situation (palpitations, trembling, sweating, tense muscles, dry throat, blushing, dizziness, sinking feeling in the stomach); an overwhelming feeling of wanting to escape, feelings of self consciousness and inadequacy; avoidance of the feared situation which can often lead to isolation from friends, family and society; and a reliance on drugs or alcohol to get the person through the feared situation.

A common misconception amongst some of the medical profession and the general public is that Social Anxiety Disorder is the same as shyness. It is important to clarify that shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder are different. Shyness is a normal characteristic. Social Anxiety Disorder is a recognised medical condition, where the symptoms are so excessive that they cause significant disruption to the person's life. In 1980, Social Anxiety Disorder was classified as an illness in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, the highly recognised manual to diagnose psychiatric disorders. Since this time, diagnostic criteria has been widely improved, allowing for correct diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder and more appropriate treatment options to be put in place.

Can Social Anxiety Disorder Be Treated?

Can Social Anxiety Disorder be treated? The World Psychiatric Association suggests that yes, Social Anxiety Disorder responds well to treatment. Medications, in conjunction with various psychological therapies have been seen to be the most successful in the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder.

Medications found to be the most effective to treat the disorder include those that inhibit the monoamine oxidase enzyme in the central nervous system. (RIMA's, MAOI's and SSRI's), while psychological therapies such as cognitive therapy, behaviour therapy and graded exposure therapy are seen to be the most effective psychological approaches. Other techniques useful in treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder include; self esteem therapy, relaxation techniques, correct breathing techniques, assertion and perception training, social skills training, meditation, visualisation and focusing skills. The World Psychiatric Association suggests that as few as 25 per cent of people who have Social Anxiety Disorder currently receive treatment. Treatment options need to be introduced as soon as a diagnosis is made to alleviate the impairment to the sufferer's life, to prevent the further development of other related conditions such as depression, avoidant personality disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse.

A Word from Sue…

"Social Anxiety Disorder is a very real and distressing illness that needs more recognition in our community. Research suggests that Social Anxiety Disorder is very common, although often underestimated and undertreated. I believe it is important to diagnose and treat this disorder in the early stages before it leads to other related disorders and before it has the chance to develop into an illness that is extremely debilitating to a persons social, emotional, occupation, interpersonal and physical well being. I know there are many people who are sitting out there in their homes who are going through what I went through, believing that the world is a frightening place, too scared to seek help, or not sure where to go to get it. If you have been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, or if you believe you have Social Anxiety Disorder, tell someone how you are feeling. Find a practitioner who is experienced in this area and engage in therapy, as believe me, it will change your life for the better. There is no longer a need for you to live a life of fear and extreme anxiety. With the right support and therapy, you can break free from your prison of fear, and find that the world is not such a frightening place."
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Old 04-24-2003, 11:51 PM
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Old 04-25-2003, 10:30 PM
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MG, I definitely related to the 2 threads you brought to the top, both this one and especially "On The Level." There have been many times people have told me my facial expressions are not matching what I'm saying, and I don't even realize it. I'm one of those "people pleasers," except most of the time people don't end up all that pleased because they feel I'm not being candid. I just don't like confrontations, or arguing over things that don't seem that important, so I tend to go with the flow. Unfortunately so many times this leads to me being pushed around. Thanks for the info.
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Old 04-25-2003, 11:32 PM
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I only have one facial expression. It's a grumpy face. My grand daughter looked up at me puzzled when she was 4 years old and said " You're not mean" I guess she realized that all the hugs and kisses didn't match the expression. It was an ah ha moment for both of us. At least I don't have any of those smile wrinkles.

I don't like confrontation either, but I think I confuse confrontation with assertiveness. I get taken advantage of too because I don't speak up for myself. Then I start building resentments because I'm being taken advantage of. Anything to keep from making waves.

We aren't being true to ourselves when we do this and put ourselves in a self made prison. I'm working on it a little at a time.

Hugs,
MG
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Old 04-26-2003, 05:27 PM
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Unhappy

MG...
My hubby suffers from this... I can't belive others suffer the same thing.... He went to church with me once.. and before walking into the buliding... we was actually having a panic attack.... We had to sit outside while he calmed down just so we could walk in.... The same thing happens when ever we would go to any kind of "social" function... My hubby told me the METH always gave him the courage to walk into places.... That it made him feel good about himself...???? He is trying... He has been working so hard with his sobriety I am so proud of him!!! Going places sober is a first for him... and really hard for him now... He used drugs non stop since he was 15 and he is 30 now...
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Old 04-27-2003, 01:13 AM
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Clowie,

I'm proud of your husband too. I'm so glad he is doing better. I've conquered panic attacks and so many things, but this social anxiety just seems to get worse rather than better. I do really well with people I know. Strangers and aquaintances are really hard for me. I keep forcing myself to do it though. I don't know what happened. I used to be very social. I guess life has a way of getting to you.

Hugs,
MG
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Old 04-27-2003, 01:32 AM
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M.G.,
I would just copy and paste your answer
if I could. I went to work tonight and one
of the girls said a customer was looking
for me. He said "you know the one that
looks grouchy, but she's not once you get
to know her". Well, getting to know me is
a feat in itself. I have this huge brick
wall around me. I am becoming more anti-social
the older I get.
This really sounds like my oldest son also,
he is extremely paranoid that everyone is
looking at him-or seeing inside him? The
more I think about it, it sounds like many
of my family members
I wonder if it's hereditary or environmental?

Hugs,
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Old 04-27-2003, 11:28 AM
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Josie,

I think it starts out as a way of protection because we have PTSD and we need to withdraw because the stimulation of normal life is too much for us. It then snowballs and we become worse. We are hyper sensitive to everything. When we walk into a room we know who is unhappy, who is insecure, who's personality we will conflict with and who we feel inadequate around because of social status and other things. Just walking in a room is overwhelming. Not only do we know way too much, but we feel responsible to fix it all because this also protects us from further stress. Fix the problems and alleviate the stress. It's hard to be assertive because we don't want to make waves that would further cause stress.

I am just happy as a clam sitting here with all of you instead. Maybe not healthy, but functional.

Hugs,
MG
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Old 04-27-2003, 11:49 AM
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M.G.,
My cyber twin. I started laughing right
now thinking if we got together and just
hung out.
I bet we wouldn't go anywhere, but just
fight over the computer.

Hugs,
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Old 04-27-2003, 11:57 AM
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Oh no, we would have to have two computers, lol. We are so much alike Jose. I feel so sorry for you, lol.

Do you like Star Trek and Star Gate SG1??? LMAO !!!
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Old 04-27-2003, 12:19 PM
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O.K., that's where we differ!
I am a Forrest Gump, When Harry Met Sally,
movie type of nut.
I feel sorry for you too LMAO

Hugs,
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Old 04-27-2003, 05:02 PM
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Lightbulb

OMG... This is so crazy... MG... I read the reply you wrote to Josie and I swear you were talking about me.... I use to be the life of the party... Always smiling, having a great time, and everyone enjoyed being around me... Well Friday night I went out with my sister to a dance club... I felt so out of place there... I sat there and thought to myself I must be getting old because my sister looked at me and said that I looked miserable... I felt like I did not fit in at all.... being in a "drinking and drug" enviroment is so hard for me now after I have been so overy educated and have seen the first hand effects of drugs and alcohol.... I find I am having such a hard time fitting in anywhere... I go to church but I have to go alone... Casey gets nervous when he goes... and I don't want him to push him into religon... At church I can hang out with the marrieds (without my hubby) or I can hang out with the Singles.... either way I feel a bit left out of both groups.... They have a group of women call Sarah's daughters and it's for women or men that are married but are spirtually single... (spouse does not believe in god) but all these women are older than me... and I don't feel as if I fit in there... If I go out with "my other" friends than there is always drinking involved... So I'm trying to find my thing... I know what your talking about... staying online and feeling totally happy... because I feel as if I fit in here... That I can relate... To everyone stories in some way... and it makes me feel better that I'm not alone... I'm really struggling right now...
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Old 04-27-2003, 08:19 PM
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Gosh, I can relate to all of you. I love being online, I feel the safest, but I even struggle sometimes with trying to fit in here too...

People used to come up to me in high school while walking down the halls and ask me why I looked so mean. One day my husband saw me driving on the road and asked me why I looked so evil. Like MG said, my normal facial expression is a grumpy one. I have to force myself to have a neutral expression, but I don't even think I know what one is!

I don't do well with strangers or big crowds. I'm fine once I get to know you, but I don't mingle well at parties and I tend to just stick with people I already know. I've known my closest friends for 10 years and more, b/c it's hard for me to connect to people and I haven't made a close friend that wasn't introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance since 1993. Pretty sad when you stop to think about it....

(((((((Clowie))))))

I'm sorry you're struggling so much but keep remembering you're not alone - I would hang out with you if I could!
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Old 04-28-2003, 12:17 AM
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I remember thinking people who talked to people online were very strange. I was in a 3D chat world and never talked to anyone. I just built houses and other strange things. It was a great place for me to be creative, but I always prayed that no one tried to talk to me. I thought I was so strange to be so shy when no one knew who I was or could see me.

This board is the first place I've ever talked to anyone and you guys are some of the greatest people I've ever met. It is so good to come home and come to this safe place with such good people.

I appreciate and value all of you.

Thank you,
MG
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Old 08-14-2003, 07:20 PM
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Old 08-14-2003, 09:17 PM
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Thank you, you gorgeous hunk a woman you!!
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Old 08-14-2003, 09:28 PM
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I remember when people would always come up to me and say "smile," it used to bug the heck out of me. I have suffered so much with social anxiety, but right now I have managed to push past it to a great extent. Of course some days it depends on my mood, but my job involves working with the public. However, it is only on a one-to-one basis, which works better for me.

I hate crowds, parties, groups, etc.

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Old 08-18-2003, 12:02 AM
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Oh man me too!! I trip on my tongue!!
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Old 08-30-2003, 03:37 PM
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i recently found out that i have social anxiety disorder, same as my mum. this makes every aspect of mjy life so hard and so self- hating. it is one of the reasons for my depression. even being around family is totally nerve racking and soul destroying. i am only 14 years old, a mere new baby however already its has taken hold of my life and crushes it, forcing all gasps of air out of me. as i get older and as my awarness of the opposite sex grows it makes life tough. always, since young i would be the girl sat on the sidelines, hiding in the toliets at the disco and so on. this isnt who i wanted to be- i want to get out there, be independant, travel the world solo. somedays i can just about get the confidence and independance together to go into town, on my on is worse. but those days are growing fewer and fewer and sometimes just going out of my room down amongst my brother nad parents is tough. neither my brother or 'friends' helped, the problem grows, but at least now i know what it is, that i am not alone, a freak, and that others (my mum for example!) struggle too, that itself helps.....ive got to go now, the parents are beckoning!! well anyway, please speak to me whatever, whatever your 'problem', whatever your pesonality, culture- just go ahead and speak. speech heals. if we all speaked so much more freely, honeslty and openly in society a lot of these problems wouldnt exist.

hugs of hope and love,
anna...xx
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Old 08-30-2003, 03:38 PM
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i mean spoke!!!

hehe.... hugs for you all!!
anna. xx:p
hey, me just noticed the cool faces!! silly me!!
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