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Shyness And The Post Partum Blues

Question:

I have been very shy my whole life, and very self conscious, low self esteem, and paralyzed by a fear of dissapointing others or not living up to thier standards. I did not graduate from high school because I could not stand in front of a classroom to give speeches the last 2 remaining credits I needed for my diploma. I Had my first child 5 yrs ago and have suffered from a mild case of the baby blues shortly after his birth which never seemed to go away, I then became pregnant 12 months later with my second child, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old. I have since sunk into a deeper state of depression and anxiety, my fears of other peoples opinions of me comsume my daily thoughts, I have these spells, like driving home from the store and not remembering anything of my drive, or when in public I feel disconnected like its not real. My husband has been trying to get me to see a doctor since the birth of our first child but I cant make myself walk into his office for the shame of it. I cry very very easily over nothing important. The only medication I am on is inhalers for my asthma. I can’t go on like this I have to be strong for my family and now life long care of my special child. How should I approach my doctor?

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Answer:

I think you should seek the attention of a doctor. But not just a regular doctor. Rather, I think it would be best if you went to see a psychiatrist (a mental health physician), and then perhaps to a clinical psychologist. Here is my reasoning. Your lifelong shyness may actually be a condition known as “social phobia (I don’t know this for sure, but a psychologist or psychiatrist will be able to know). Compounding your shyness seems to be a depressed mood that won’t quit, and even some spacing out behavior. Depression is common in the wake of giving birth, but it can only be exasurbated by your pre-existing shyness and the responsibilities of caring for two infants, one with a serious mental health condition himself. The bind you’re in is that you need support, but you are too shy and embarrased and ‘ashamed’ to get it. You want to go directly to the sort of doctor who will best be equipted to understand what you are going through, and who is best equipt to help you.

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p> I think you just need to go to see the doctor and to tell your story. I think that the doctor is going to understand better than you might expect and will not judge you or shame you. I think this because it is likely that your doctor will have helped many many people with problems similar to your own before.

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p> There is real help available for the problems you seem to have. There is real help for depressions of a variety of sorts, and there is real help for social phobia and shyness. Treatment will likely consist of medication (to help your mood and anxiety), and psychotherapy which can help you learn how to better cope with your mood, and to work through your anxiety. The best studied therapies for depression and anxiety both come out of the family of therapies called “Cognitive Behavioral” – you may want to ask for this sort of therapy by name.

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