Kaitlyn Q asked in HealthMental Health · 9 years ago

Do I have social anxiety disorder, or am I just shy?

I know it all depends on severity, and mine isn't THAT bad, but I still feel like I'm waaaay more shy than I should be.

It all started when I did volunteer work at some hospital... before that, I was kind of quiet, but at the hospital I was terrified. I tried to avoid talking or even having eye contact with patients. I would start shaking or stuttering every time I had to talk to a nurse or a secretary, and at lunch I tried to pick the empty table as far away as possible from anybody. Even though I worked for eight weeks, every day felt like my first day. I thought I would get used to being around new people, but it just stayed the same situation until I left.

After that I started high school, and it continued there, even though this is the same school I've gone to my whole life and half the people in my grade I've known since elementary school. I suddenly felt like I couldn't handle having a conversation with anybody I didn't know very well, and even the people I knew well but didn't talk to often. Whenever somebody tried to say hi to me I would freak out, mutter some kind of response, and try to get away as quickly as possible. I feel completely fine when one of my friends is in the room (I only have four 'friends', two of them are close friends, and I only completely trust one of them). But as soon as they leave I just kind of go silent and wish I was somewhere else.

I think it's getting worse, too. I won't pick up my phone unless I know whoever's calling very well. I absolutely hate ordering food at restaurants, and I don't go to parties unless at least two of my friends will be there. In my Spanish class we have to get three signatures from our peers who have tested us on the vocab, but instead of asking people to test me I usually just forge it. I'm always scared that my Spanish teacher will find out that, too... and in Band I absolutely cannot play a solo because I feel so self-conscious and whatnot. A couple of weeks ago I really wanted to be in the school play but I couldn't even force myself to go to the audition, because I was so scared of the other people trying out being there... I always feel like I can't go anywhere without people looking at me or talking about me, and I'm always scared of saying something stupid or rude. I even get nervous when I'm posting something online.. like, if I've posted a comment or some art or something, and nobody comments on it, I feel like nobody cares about what I have to say or I said something wrong.

It's kind of freaking me out. I'm afraid to tell my parents, because they'll probably just tell me I'm shy or it's just a stage... is it really a social disorder? Or at least, enough of a social disorder that I can use it as an excuse not to talk when people ask why I'm so quiet?

3 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Go to: http://ecouch.anu.edu.au/welcome Select "social anxiety" for free Cognitive Behavio(u)ral Therapy. An exercise which may help you is called "Act as If." When you are in a social situation, act as if you are outgoing. Talk more; smile at people, ask questions, speak in a normal or excited tone, not a meek tone. Watch some of your more outgoing peers, and imitate the style of their social behavior. (PRETEND that you are an ACTOR, PLAYING a PART). Research shows that when you "act as if" continually, your image of yourself begins to conform to your new behavior. In this case, you will gain self-confidence, and begin to see yourself as socially normal, not shy. You will become more socially successful, and this will motivate you to continue your new social behavior until it becomes a habit. A form of therapy is to go somewhere that nobody knows you, and deliberately make an utter fool of yourself: put on a paper hat, and yell out: "I'm queen/king of America!", or something else ridiculous, (make up your own - have some fun, safely) then get back in the taxi, (warn the driver of your intentions, first) or car, and leave. People will point, and say: "Look at that idiot". Or, possibly in the company of a friend, or family member, on a different train, or bus route to your regular one, call out the names, or numbers of all the stops. It will teach you that, although it isn't actually pleasant, (EXPECT MODERATE DISCOMFORT or EMBARRASSMENT) you will survive; be stronger for the experience, and the next time (should you need to repeat this type of therapy) will be considerably easier. Remember: "A fear avoided is a fear strengthened; a fear faced is a fear reduced." Regard it as your final test: once you have accomplished it, the barrier will be broken; just don't go too far, the other way! Learn to laugh at yourself, and give a big, cheesy grin when others see you do something foolish, as we all do, occasionally. It is endearing, if you don't do it too often. Use positive affirmations: for example: "I am very likable and other people feel comfortable around me".

    Write down all of your self limiting beliefs; then write down, or print, in large type/capitalisation, the positive counter of them, (exact opposite) and repeat them and imprint them into your mind. Put it in a prominent position, where you will see it regularly. Most importantly: Force yourself to approach somebody and initiate some sort of communication. Start out small by asking the time, or directions and gradually go bigger. Although there are anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics) available, these come with risks, and the possibility of side effects, habituation, even addiction, and withdrawal problems, and are unsuitable for young people. Try having a cup of "Tension Tamer", (from supermarket tea, or health food aisles) or make some at home, and cool, then bottle, and drink as needed. C(h)amomile tea tastes better. As with all herbal/green teas, use lemon/lime, and/or a little sweetener (NOT ARTIFICIAL!!!) but no cream, or milk. Xylitol, or Stevia is preferable, from health food stores. Valerian has also been recommended, but some people experience valerian "hangovers". Ensure you know how you react to it, before doing something potentially dangerous, like going out on the roads. The idea is to use the above products like water wings, to provide initial, short term support, while you become proficient in those techniques. Use a relaxation method daily, like http://www.drcoxconsulting.com/managing-stress.htm... or http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/mindbody/a/Meditat... or www.wikihow.com Meditate or Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or yoga. Give the EFT a good tryout, to see if it helps you. It is free via the searchbar at http://www.mercola.com "EFT" & "EFT therapists" or www.tapping.com (13 free videos). Professional is best. There is a version for use in public places, (if you want to, you can claim to have a headache, as you massage/lightly tap your temples, but you would then be restricted to subvocalising: saying it to yourself in your mind: "Even though I suffer from social anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself."

    Source(s): Read: Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Gillian Butler, & Managing Social Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach Client Workbook (Treatments That Work) by Debra A. Hope, Richard G. Heimberg, Harlan A. Juster, and Cynthia L. Turk. Hypnosis is merely a heightened state of suggestibility, in which you are better able to communicate with your subconscious mind. 85% of people are suggestible, to some degree, so you could either seek professional hypnotherapy, or more along such lines is at http://your-mental-health.8m.com/blank_4.html about social anxiety. At Amazon.com enter "social anxiety + shyness; CD, & VHS" See http://www.wikihow.com/Special:GoogSearch?cx=01656... Those with $: up to 6 months of CBT, and group therapy with similar sufferers is recommended.
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  • 9 years ago

    I'm kind of going threw the same thing, except i've been this way my whole life. I can't get a job because i'm so freaked out by the socializing aspect that now my mom is losing our house.

    What i've been trying to do is think about it rationally. Jump into conversations you usually wouldn't have even if it seems super horrible at the time. You'll probably end up thanking yourself when you finally get over it.

    I've been doing this and i'm actually making alot more friends and i can talk to authority figures easier then i ever have been able to before. So just jump in, even if it seems hard.

    If that doesn't help then you could try telling your parents. My mom is totally aware of it because once it got so severe that i missed so much school that i failed a course.

    Then you could go see a counseller. But first try to self-councell urself.

    Also sometimes it's a self concious thing. If you see yourself as ugly or something, try dressing in clothes and make up that make u feel beautiful. (im just guessing that your a girl)

    It could also just be stress and insecurity thats driving you away from socializing. But it's okay, because your not alone. I'm still just as quiet and shy as you, even after self counselling and help from my family.

    Good luck, :)

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  • 4 years ago

    I use to be that way, I don't know why but I thought that whenever I was talking with someone I wasn't worth the person's time and that I was wayyyyyyyyyyyy less than that person, I used to feel sad and shy!! I don't know why that used to happened to me, then I started to tell myself that I am as valuable to talk to and that I am even better than some people who I talk with, so I feel more confortable of myself and happy with everything I do. Just try not to feel that way because I am sure that u are a valuable person and Never THINK that u are not because everybody has beauty inside them !!! I am a Gemini too, so good luck and I wish u the best, and don't think to much about what u say to people because that will make u nervous, GOOD LUCK AND BEST WISHES!!! :)

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