Social Anxiety Disorder?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I show a lot of signs of different disorders, but I’m not sure if I have one or which one I do have. Within the past few months, I’ve gradually found it much harder to leave my house. It’s affecting me to the point where I have to take days off of school because I get physically ill (nauseous) from being around so many people for such a long time. I tend to stay in my room more than anywhere else. I’m extremely cautious about talking to other people and it’s a very hard thing for me to do. I don’t pick up the telephone no matter what, and won’t call people either. I don’t keep many close friends, and the ones I do have I only see at school or talk to online. I’m terribly afraid of public speaking, working in groups, or being around people in general, and a lot of that is because I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me. I get very anxious about doing things like going to school, and have suffered a few minor panic attacks from that. I have extremely low self esteem, maybe even close to self-loathing, and this also prevents me from talking to people I believe. My moods also change very quickly, and are pretty extreme as well.

A. It is always difficult to offer a reliable diagnosis over the Internet. Please keep this in mind. Based on the information you have provided you may have agoraphobia or social phobia. Both are anxiety disorders. Agoraphobia is a fear of being in places where you may not be able to escape. It usually involves a fear of crowds or being with other people in general. Some individuals with severe agoraphobia can no longer leave their homes due to extreme fear. The fear can be crippling. They essentially become prisoners in their own home. You can read more about the characteristics of agoraphobia here.

Characteristics of social phobia include having an irrational fear of interacting with people. It also involves a fear of putting yourself in situations which may involve scrutiny or judgments by others. Individuals with social phobia tend to avoid social events because of their intense fear of being judged. You can read more about social phobia by clicking here.

Your situation is very concerning. Your anxiety is preventing you from attending school. If you cannot attend school then you risk failing. Social anxiety disorders tend to become progressively worse over time. It is important that you seek help for this issue. Anxiety disorders are very treatable. Many individuals with anxiety disorders are able to overcome them.

The first step in getting help for social anxiety disorders is often the most difficult because it usually requires physically leaving your home to attend psychotherapy appointments. The prospect of that may be very frightening but it is a necessary step to cure this problem.

My advice is this: speak to your parents. Inform them that you possibly have an anxiety disorder. Tell them that you need help and you need it now. As indicated above, anxiety disorders are very treatable but it requires you asking for help. I hope that you are able to get the help you need. Please consider writing back to let me know how you’re doing. I wish you well.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Social Anxiety Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/01/social-anxiety-disorder/

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