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I'm Afraid They Are Judging Me


I’m in high school and everytime I go to school I’m afraid to talk to people and always think what they are thinking about me. I do not know what the cause of this and how it could be treated.

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It is called shyness by most people, but mental health professionals call it “social phobia”. At least, that is the name of the disorder that people can have when their shyness gets so out of hand that it interferes with their functioning; their ability to work and live and have a reasonable life. People with social phobia often have what is called a “fear of negative evaluation”; they are afraid that people are judging them negatively. They are easily embarrassed and often feel that they are a social failure. The best sort of treatment for social phobia problems is probably a combination of medication to lower anxiety or depression levels, and cognitive behavioral psychotherapy to help people learn how to cope with their distorted thinking regarding how much danger is present in feared social circumstances. Actually, in most cases, cognitive behavioral therapy is probably quite sufficient for treating this problem all by itself and no medications are necessary.


p> There are two main things that happen in cognitive behaivor therapy. One of those parts is what is called exposure therapy. The way to work through fears is to experience and learn to tolerate them. A therapist would work with you to learn about the situations you’re afraid of, and then help you practice them using imagry or role playing (or sometimes real life exposure). When you are able to feel some of the fear and not run away from it, you learn to tolerate it, and it tends to go away.


p> The second part of cognitive behavior therapy has to do with learning how to examine your thoughts to see if they are based on facts or just on fears. Most people feel like feelings just happen, but most of the time, they are caused by thoughts and beliefs that people have. For instance, you might first think that people are talking about you, and then subsequently feel badly. The cognitive therapy would teach you how to evaluate whether or not your belief is accurate and true; and if it is not true, how to correct it, and thus correct how you feel.

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