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How Do I Overcome Social Anxiety?

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From a young woman in the Philippines: I’ve always been a very nervous person. But there are times when I don’t know if it’s still nervousness or an anxiety attack already.

Even when my co-workers ask me simple questions, I start to get nervous even if they’re not yet finished asking me. I feel so nervous if I have to face some challenges in life or certain situations that I know I won’t be able to overcome. I get so agitated.

I get so sweaty especially my hands. My heart beat gets fast. I sometimes can’t think straight and lose my focus. And after feeling all these, I feel chills. Like I just wanna lie on my bed, curl and sleep all day. Sometimes I think that I should just be invisible.

Even in emergency cases, I feel so lightweight. My mind’s blank, or sometimes I get all jumpy and run around like a lunatic even if people ask me multiple times to calm down but I can’t. What should I do do overcome these?

How Do I Overcome Social Anxiety?

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing. You have already taken your first step to recovery by writing to us here at Psych Central. I imagine you’ve tried everything you can think of to manage your anxiety but with mixed results. You were smart to reach out for some help at this point.

What you are describing is not simple nervousness. You are having physical symptoms. That suggests that things have moved in the direction of a social anxiety disorder. You are not at all alone. In the U.S., it is the second most diagnosed mental illness (phobias being the first). Many people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms similar to yours: rapid heart rate, nausea, and sweating. Many also have panic attacks.

The root of social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others. Although you didn’t mention that specifically, you do mention that it is answering others’ questions or meeting life challenges that trigger your episodes. I’m guessing you are terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing. You get so nervous, you’d rather withdraw from the situation (either passively by going to bed or actively by getting too agitated to think) than get it wrong.

The good news is that social anxiety can be overcome. Your medical doctor can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication that may calm you down some. But medicine only relieves symptoms. It doesn’t get to the root of the problem. For a more permanent (and potentially medication-free) fix, you need information and support from a therapist, reading material, and perhaps a support group.

If you can get to a therapist, look for someone who specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and anxiety disorders.

If you can’t get to a therapist, there are excellent books and workbooks available from online booksellers. With my clients, I usually start with asking them to read Dr, David Burns book “Feeling Great: The Revolutionary new Treatment for Depression and Anxiety”. I also ask them to choose one of the available self-help workbooks and to set aside an hour a day to do the recommended exercises – even if they don’t think it will help. Working on it every day supplements therapy and often makes it go more quickly.

Another option for you is to join one of the forums here at PsychCentral for support and advice. Go to the home page. Click on “Find Help”. Then click on “Forums”. People from all over the world provide each other with support and helpful ideas for managing their issues.

Do take the next steps and follow through with these recommendations. You deserve to live life without this debilitating reaction to stress.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

How Do I Overcome Social Anxiety?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Do I Overcome Social Anxiety?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/07/10/how-do-i-overcome-social-anxiety/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 9 Jul 2020 (Originally: 10 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 9 Jul 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.