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Social Anxiety

Question:

I am currently a junior in college and am not happy. During my whole high school life and my current college life I have found it difficult to make friends and the friends I do make are people that I would not consider that close. I think this can be attributed to the fact that I feel an “inner tightness” or anxiety when I talk to most of my peers. I never feel comfortable around them. The only times I this is not the case is when I am either drunk or smoking pot. When I go to a party I always have a feeling of being “out of place”. For most people the socialization that occurs at these parties seems to occur naturally, this is not the case for me. It seems to always be a constant struggle to maintain a good conversation. Dr., I constantly feel alone, isolated and rejected. Do I need to see a professional? Dr., any help or advice you could give me would be a GREAT help! Thank you for your time.

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Answer:

It cannot be said for sure, but based on what you have said here it would appear that you are dealing with an anxiety problem – perhaps one known as Social Phobia. Persons with social phobia experience many symptoms of anxiety (including but not limited to embarrassment, sweating, trembling, etc.) when they are in social situations. Often, Social Phobics also experience a fear of negative evaluation – their attention becomes so highly focused on what others around them might be thinking about them that they find it hard to pay attention to the conversation they are having! If it is the case that you have social phobia, you are in luck! There are now several excellent forms of psychotherapy that are well studied and known to work very well in treating this disorder. I recommend that you have a medical checkup to rule out any possible medical reason for why you might be so anxious. Assuming the absence of medical difficulties that might account for your symptoms, I recommend that you treat yourself to a consultation with a licensed Clinical Psychologist trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for anxiety disorders. I have to address your use of alcohol and marijuana here – These substances are never helpful for people to put into their bodies. In your case – where you seem to be using these drugs to make yourself less anxious – you are running a terrible risk of addiction. Please stop drinking and drugging immediately. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication to lower your anxiety if this is absolutely necessary. If you go that route – be sure and ask your Dr. for a non-addictive anti-anxiety medicine so that you don’t substitute one addictive substance for another). Good luck! Dr. Dombeck

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