Do I have social anxiety?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

So I think that I have some kind of anxiety problem. My issue is that I constantly think about my interactions with people and wish that I would have said or did things differently. For example, I will think about a conversation from yesterday with someone and think to myself, I should have said this instead, it would have conveyed that I cared more. I then can’t stop thinking about it. It keeps me up at night because I wish so bad that I would have said something different. Of maybe I didn’t say anything and I wish that I would have. I recently just had surgery to remove some precancerous cells as well and have been stressed out about that so I think that might have something to do with it. Is this like a social anxiety? I am always telling myself that I can’t live in the past too but I just keep having the same thoughts. Thanks for your time.

A: I’m so sorry you can’t seem to stop stressing yourself with reruns. Although I can’t, of course, provide a diagnosis on the basis of a letter, what you report is certainly consistent with some sort of anxiety disorder. You didn’t mention whether your excessive worry about what you did or didn’t say to others has been a long-term issue or whether it started with your surgery. If the timing is connected to the surgery, it may be that your unconscious mind is trying to help you out by distracting you from scarier thoughts about possible cancer. It’s also possible that the anesthesia, pain medications, or other medications you needed have triggered anxiety that you now can’t get back under control. I do urge you to share your symptoms with your doctor. It’s important information for him or her to know, especially if it is a side effect of other treatment.

If, on the other hand, this is a longstanding problem, it’s still important to get an evaluation by a mental health counselor. There is no reason for you to suffer like this. With some medication, and perhaps some supportive therapy, you can bring your anxiety level back down to something more normal. Please work with your doctor to make sure you get a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Do I have social anxiety?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/08/do-i-have-social-anxiety/