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Social Phobia

Question:

Hi Dr. Schwartz, My question is, should I go and get some help? I have been feeling the way I do for such a long time, and recently I figured out, from reading into it, that I have Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). I tend to blush a lot, and I don’t know why I am. I get all red in the face and sweat when waiting in lines, or I tend to feel like people are watching me wherever I go. I hate this feeling. Is there anything you could suggest I do? I really need to get rid of these feelings, because it’s not who I am. Muchly appreciated. Bor.

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Answer:

The answer to your question is yes, you should get some help. The type of help that you need is cognitive-behavioral therapy. The reason is that for most phobias, talking therapy is not enough. You need the type of therapy that will do two things: 1. help you look at the thoughts that increase your feelings of anxiety and 2. help you begin to take some social risks in ways that will produce minimum anxiety and gradually allow you to become desensitized to social situations. There are therapists who are trained in cognitive behavioral techniques and there are clinics that provide that type of therapy for those experiencing extreme anxiety. Sometimes medication is used to reduce anxiety but this is the kind of thing that even with medication still requires the slow and gradual learning of new experiences with reduced anxiety.

There are also many excellent books available on the self help shelves of most book stores that teach people how to reduce their shyness and anxiety. I have no particular book in mind and most of them are good. The topics mostly have to do with shyness or phobia or anxiety or social phobia.

You may never stop blushing completely but you will learn that there is nothing to be embarrassed about just because you blush. Some people blush naturally and cannot help it. When I say that they blush naturally I mean that they blush easily even if they are not embarrassed.

Bottom line: there is nothing to be ashamed about just because you feel social anxiety. The idea is to NOT AVOID social situations but to go into them anyway. The more you socialize the more comfortable you will come to feel. Also, one technique that is used to have a socially anxious person simply tell the person they are speaking that they are feeling nervous. Get it out in the open and do not hide it. Socializing is a skill and either the books or therapy or both will help you learn to socialize with less discomfort whether you blush or not. Wear your blush with pride!!!

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    Where do I go for help with social anxiety?? I'm anxious about calling people on the phone as well as in other situations, so simply calling a doc's office isn't an option for me. And even if I had the nerve to call, I live in a somewhat rural area and the therapist listings are practically non-existant. I've been living with this for 40 years and am beginning to think that I'm a hopeless case.

    Editor's Note: Contacting the Anxiety Disorders Association of America is a good start on the road to finding a therapist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders like Social Phobia. If you write them at 11900 Parklawn Dr., Suite 100, Rockville, MD 20852-2624, or call at(301) 231-9350 they will send you a list of mental health professionals who treat anxiety disorders and a list of self-help groups in your area (Include $3.00 for postage and handling). If you're in the metro Philadelphia area, the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University , directed by Richard Heimberg, Ph.D. (a word leader in anxiety research and treatment), is worth contacting.

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