Social Anxiety Disorder--More Than Just Shyness

shy - this kid is shy
@mjcookie (2274)
Philippines
February 21, 2010 3:30am CST
I just found out that I have social anxiety disorder, which is characterized by excessive fear of social situations (it shouldn't be confused with antisocial personality disorder). I have always known that my shyness is extreme and extraordinary. Although I am not 100% sure (it was self-diagnosis), I am pretty certain that I exhibit the following symptoms every time I am put in social situations: sweating rapid heartbeat inability to make eye-to-eye contact blushing avoidance behaviors (such as rarely leaving the house and avoiding social events) and these two interesting yet odd ones: fear of telephone calls (I let other people in the house answer the phone call first) walk disturbance (being so worried by the way you walk that you lose balance) It got worse after I had my first job, which was so miserable for me that it got me traumatized and fearful to apply for another one. Although it's more of a mental attitude, it cannot be self-treated. Genetics also play a role (I have a pretty shy mother). The scary thing is that the best way to treat this inhibition is through psychotherapy or professional help, which should be done ASAP. Unfortunately, we cannot afford it. My mom and my sister don't even know about it. Do you know someone who has S.A.D.? How did he/she cope with it?
1 person likes this
5 responses
@diamania (7037)
• Netherlands
21 Feb 10
I don't know anyone who has SAD, I do know people who are sad and you are not! Ok ok, away with the jokes: I do have a disorder in quite the same spectrum as SAD: Panic disorder/anxiety disorder. The great thing about those ( another related disorder is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) disorders is that they can be perfectly treated and all quite the same way: Through exposing yourself to situations you find very scary. This is what experts call: Exposure Therapy. Have you ever seen your doctor? Maybe he can hook you up with a specialist. If for some reason you cannot see the doctor it could be a wise idea to do this exposure therapy somewhat yourself. What do you do in such a situation to cope with that situation apart from running away from the situation? Do you know any breathing techniques? Use them! Do you have some helping thoughts? Think them. After a while you will see things will get easier, best however would be to do everything under supervision of an expert. Thanks to exposure therapy I am now able to walk on the street with relatively limited amount of fear.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
21 Feb 10
Hi diamana :) I think we both have this disorder (Panic disorder/ anxiety disorder) though I am not diagnosed with it. Haha! But I have this unknown anxiety especially in public places. Yeah just like what you said, I agree that we should all face the things that scare us the most so and eventually those fears will die. In mjcookie's case, she's afraid of socializing probably of her own personal reasons.. but life's just like that..we have to face reality and work on ourselves to the standard that the society wants of us. Right now, I'm still struggling with this fear of riding public vehicles, but instead of riding on a private car with my mom I personally choose to ride public transports so that I'll become used to it ;) Thanks for this info diamana :) God bless!
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
21 Feb 10
Wow, and you're male.. Well I haven't seen any doctor yet, because like what I just said, we cannot afford it. I am thinking of free online therapy (I don't even know if there are many out there) though I know it's always better to be treated personally. What happens to me in awkward situations is my mind focuses on the stares and imaginary stares. I find it hard to deviate my attention to other things, and I don't know why. It's always at the back of my head! I usually go out alone and with no company so there's no one to keep my focus off myself. Thank you for your advice. I will try them.
1 person likes this
@diamania (7037)
• Netherlands
22 Feb 10
@cecille Hey Cecille. Exposing yourself to that what you're afraid makes you confident that the situation you are in isn't as scary as it really is. The more positive experiences you have with that situation the easier it gets. Good of you that you're approaching your anxiety through practicing! If you keep up the good work you'll see that things get so much easier and life too! @mjcookie: Yeah I am male! In the exposure group I was in I was never with more than 1 other male. The others were females and I had to live with them 24/7! I did not fully understand your second paragraph. Do you start staring at one point the moment you get out? I have that too but only when I am overwhelmed by fear. My mind is then locked to one point and if I don't have my best female friend with me I can stare for over 30 minutes. She has that too but different from me she doesn't hear anything anymore during that period while I do hear everything.
@DCMerkle (1281)
• United States
22 Feb 10
My husband has S.A.D., but he won't admit to it. I can understand why he has it, but he let it rule his life. I have it. It kept me from going on stage and singing in front of people. I think that is one of the more common symptoms. With my husband, he has never wanted to go out as a family unless it was after dark. He had to be literally begged and cajoled to go to any of his children's school assemblies. He would never take me to dinner or a movie. He had a tough childhood which I think is partly to blame. His mother was a Japanese war bride. With that for my husband came a lot of bad feelings because he was a child from a war that for some, meant that many had lost a husband, brother, wife or sister in WWII because of Pearl Harbor. It was more of a social stigma. He has told me that there were parents that wouldn't let him play with their children because his mother was Japaneese and he was a half-breed. Terrible, wasn't it? What I found really sad was that he's a musician and has played out on gigs. He played electric guitar and bass, but to play with the band he would practically hide behind his amp. He had a Marshall that was tall and hid him well. He's learned to adapt with his shyness, but it still stands in his way for a lot of things.
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
22 Feb 10
Oh. I've read that this disorder is more common among boys than girls. His was extreme! And to think that both of you have it.. Yeah, stage fright and fear of social situations where you'd feel most likely humiliated or embarrassed. The disorder is genetic but traumatic/bad experiences can also cause it. How old was he when he got it? And how about you? I have always been shy even when I was young because I was really fat as a kid and people would call me names, but I think my S.A.D. developed during early adolescence. Traumatic childhood experiences really result in personality disorders and/or depression when you grow up. It really gets in the way. Your husband hiding behind his bandmate is odd. He would go great lengths to avoid people. Pretty much like Avoidance Personality Disorder. But it's a good thing that he still carried on playing for the band rather than not trying at all. I am sure you understand him when he doesn't take you out..
@DCMerkle (1281)
• United States
22 Feb 10
I'd say for my husband it was around the time that he started 1st grade, but he says that it more around Jr. high. I think that being in a school setting would call up more notice of who he was and being in a more concentrated group of people he was definitely noticed more. He said that as he got older he would skip school. He was a very intelligent child and when he was told that he would fail if he didn't come back to school, he would show up for a few weeks, catch up on what he'd missed, take the tests and then disappear again during the next quarter. He would pass all his tests every time. I did and I still understand why he doesn't like going to dinner. For me it was around 1st grade, but I remember before I started school my mother wouldn't let me out of my yard to play with the children up the street for whatever reasons that she had. I lived on a block that didn't have any other children to play with. We lived with my grandparents and my grandparents neighbors on both sides were retired people with no children and the occasional grandchild that came to visit. I guess I would have to say that my shyness was cultivated due to my circumstances. Oh and he wasn't hiding behind a bandmate. He hid behind his amp, the speaker that he used for his guitar and bass for. I on the other hand would have loved to hide behind anything on stage. I loved to song and I loved to sing in groups. That I could do, but if I had a solo to do, I remember starting to shake, sweat and looking for an escape route. I would just blank out. I'd get through the song like a pro but had no memory of it. When I had kids I had to get it under control because I didn't want my children to fear being in public. I encouraged my children to do things in school. My son had a speech impediment and was shy because of it, but there was this poetry reciting assembly that his class was doing. He wanted to do, "Backwards Bill" by Shel Silverstein. He did it and was so proud of himself. Ironically, the poem fit him to a T...lol My daughter has S.A.D. It didn't show up until her late teens, early twenties. She was waitressing and got an attack of anxiety out of the blue. She called me from work and was in tears. She didn't go back to waitressing at all after that. She's had trouble in college because of it and now says that she can't go back to school because she's a fraid that she will have another attack of anxiety. The one thing that I have noticed and I guess for my family and my husband and I when we were growing up, is that we all have realized that in order to become some sort of a functional person in society we had to adapt, to find a way to cope if we had to work and survive. We all find a place that we feel comfortable in or at. For ex., we all go back to the same places to play, work, go to the same church. I guess it's the surroundings and the people that we get use to. Doing something new or fearing the unknown is a big part of S.A.D., but it's how strong that survival in us is. I think my mother may have had it, but my husband really can't pinpoint anyone in his family that he can remember, that may have had it.
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
24 Feb 10
Oh sorry. I kinda overlooked the word "amp". Good thing you still carried on singing onstage. I remember totally crying and backing out from one impromptu speaking contest. I knew I could do it, but I was very afraid to be mentally blocked because of all the people. Just seeing the whole school watching scared the hell out of me. It was a bad feeling, feeling like you were a loser because you QUIT. Looks like you got a shy family. Your daughter reminds me of something I read in a social anxiety website. She was asking for help because she didn't wanna apply for a job anymore after her miserable experience in being a waitress. She had S.A.D., too.
@Opal26 (17691)
• United States
21 Feb 10
Hey mj! I used to be like that too! I didn't exactly realize that it had a name either! I was always very self concious when I was young because I was always picked on as a little kid! That didn't help matters at all! And when it came to work situations it continued! And then I would overcompensate by being angry and upset! I still got picked on and then things got worse because I kept losing my jobs because I would call in sick alot because I couldn't face going into work! So things just got progressively worse as the years and jobs went by! I finally found out after many years of torture that I actually had Major Depressive Disorder and alot of it came from my problems from my childhood! Not that this was an excuse, but it did explain alot of my behavior. There is alot more to it, but I definitely suggest that YOU go and get help NOW and not wait like I did until things get so out of control that you can't function! The symptoms you have a definitely real, others have experienced them, you are not alone and you can get treatment for them! Go and see a therapist and don't be ashamed! Don't wait like I did! If you want to talk to me privately mj I am here for you. I am going to give you my email opal2626@yahoo.com
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
22 Feb 10
I feel sorry for you. That must have been really hard for you. People just cannot help but insult others like they have no flaws themselves. In my past job I wasn't picked on, but I felt like my coworkers didn't like me that much because they wouldn't start a conversation with me. Even if I talk to them they would feel intimidated. I felt like an alien in that workplace. One manager even told me that the reason was that I was too silent. It is sad that this situation can last a lifetime if left untreated. I even read about this old woman who's already 8 and she still has S.A.D. I know this has to be treated asap because I am already 18 and should be facing situations myself, such as applying for a job, which feels like so hard of a task for me, like it's gonna be the end of the world. Opal, thanks for your help!! I really appreciate it! I will contact you if I need help. Thank you again!
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
22 Feb 10
Oops, that was 58. 58 years old.
• United States
22 Feb 10
Seredyn is an all-natural supplement that has had some pretty awesome success rates with social anxiety. You might want to check this alternative medicine out - http://www.seredyn.com - Apparently Seredyn has an 82% success rate in helping with social anxiety symptoms.
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
24 Feb 10
Hmmm.. Never heard of Seredyn, but I am more interested in professional treatment such as counseling. Anyway thanks for helping.
@laydee (12814)
• Philippines
22 Feb 10
I don't think it's something to be worried about, we all go through that stage and it's not something incurable at all. I mean, the symptoms you have mentioned are common, unless of course you start shouting in panic when there is a new person in the room, there certainly some loose screws there. I think you just need to take a few steps at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself and stop thinking of your 'condition' because it's not that horrible. When people start thinking that their days are done because of some 'condition' that's when they become worst. You said yourself that you're not diagnosed with it, so perhaps it's just 'in your head'. So, as I said earlier, try to slowly enter the world. I also went through that phase. But it was only when I realized that I'm fearing for things only in my mind, then I realized I'm keeping myself from discovering the world. Good luck.
@mjcookie (2274)
• Philippines
24 Feb 10
It is something to be worried about, because it gets in the way of me doing things that I should be doing. I don't even have the courage to apply for another job for fear that people may not like me. It's really not ordinary. I did a little research about it, and I can say that I really have it. Anyway, I'll take your advice. Thanks a lot.