Too Much Adrenaline

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

When I enter a social situation that I perceive as a bit threatening, the first two minutes are fine. I can greet everyone well, enjoy being there. But after 2 minutes, adrenaline really starts kicking in. My body becomes very tense and for the next 2-3 hours I have problems directly looking at people, laughing, and feeling in any way comfortable. I’m full of adrenaline. When these 2-3 hours are over, everything is fine and I can enjoy communicating like any normal person would.

I thought it would go away with more social experience, but it doesn’t look like it. Those first 2-3 hours are a big burden to me. If I wouldn’t get that adrenaline boost, I would be perfectly fine. I see other people getting adrenaline for a threatening social situation, but it doesn’t stay in their body for hours like in mine. Is this some kind of disorder? Are there pills for this kind of stuff? My life would be so much better without this, which keeps happening to me. I’m in my 20s. Your help is much appreciated.

Thanks for what you do,

A: I appreciate the struggle that you present in this question. It sounds like you’ve been stressed with this for quite a while. Yet there does seem to be some other characteristics that would be important to identify.

First place to look would be in those social situations where this doesn’t happen. My guess is there are a few of them. Let’s see where you are with other people when it works and what makes that comfortable. Typically when there is this kind of anxiety, or panic, there’s a flipside to it. When there is something so acute that is causing this kind of arousal, there are other situations that don’t. You want to learn what they are and find out the difference.

I would make list of all the situations you’ve been in over the past month when you felt this anxiety. On the other side of the paper make a list of those times when you were with another person and felt fine or neutral. In particular look for the times when you actually enjoyed the engagement. What were looking for here is the difference: What causes you to be okay in one area and not in another?

I think this kind of analysis could be very helpful to pinpoint those things you need to feel good about in social situations.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Feb 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Too Much Adrenaline. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/02/08/too-much-adrenaline/