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Social Fear

Question:

I have kind of a social problem with people. Especially when presenting to groups of people in a work setting. My past experiences have not went well. I have been really nervous during past presentations and it was very obvious. My heart starts beating rapidly and sometimes I can hardly talk. I have talked with others about this and they say that all it takes is experience. Well, it seems that I get worse the more I present. My confidence suffers and it is like a downward spiral, getting worse each time. It is very embarrassing and tough emotionally. I have seen ads on TV about social anxiety drugs that help people with these kind of problems. I used to be extremely shy and nervous when meeting people. I am getting better but I am still not always comfortable. I still find it hard to meet people. I have several presentations for work coming up in the near future and I do not want to resort to those anxiety drugs. Do you have any advice?

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Answer:

You would appear to have some form of social anxiety – possibly even Social Phobia but only a qualified Psychologist or Psychiatrist who has examined you in person will be able to say for certain. Social Phobia (severe social fear) is one of the more common forms of anxiety disorder listed in the DSM-IV ((Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition), the bible of mental health diagnosis. Social Phobia is described as, “A marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be humiliating, or embarrassing.”

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p>Very excellent psychotherapies are available for treating social fears. You will want to find a Clinical Psychologist with a Cognitive Behavioral orientation (style of psychotherapy) who has experience treating anxiety disorders including social phobia. – Such a Doctor will likely be able to help you without the need for any medications at all. Medications can also be helpful, but one does need to be aware that some medicines that can be prescribed for anxiety are highly addicting (Benzos such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin being good examples). See your MD if you go this route and ask for non-addicting medications!

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p> Good luck.

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