My name is Michael and I have been sufferring from social phobia for all of my life. It has got worse in the past 4-5 years since I took a on a Higher level job at work. I most always try to avoid meetings at work and if I do go my heart starts racing and I can't speak. It seems to come on If we have to go around the room and introduce ourselves. I panic and can barely say my name when its my turn. If I talk to someone one on one its not as bad. I avoid asking questions in any situation because I am afraid to talk. Help please.
you sound a lot like ME! I posted this on another board....
I haven't actually been diagnosed with anxiety or anything...but I think that I have it.
Unlike some of the posters on this board, my anxiety comes and goes. I don't wake up with it, or go to sleep with it. Mine is usually triggered by some social situations. It's more like speaking in public and big groups...especially in class. I don't know why, but I get REALLY REALLY nervous when raising my hand to say a comment, or just speaking in big groups. But otherwise, I'll be completely fine and normal speaking with people one on one and in smaller groups. But big groups, speeches, public speaking...etc...forget it. I'm a nervous wreck! I think mine is more like some form of social anxiety disorder. My symptoms when I'm about to answer a question in a large group, or about to make a comment are: strong butterflies in my stomach, my heart races (sometimes to the point where I can actually hear it!), my breathing gets faster and even while I'm speaking I'll forget to breath so I get out of breath...it really is embarrassing, I'll start to tremble and shake in my extremities (ie. fingers, hands), I can't think straight, I feel a fight/flight sensation. These are just some of the symptoms I experience. Even when I DO start to talk or make a comment in a large group, my voice will sometimes shake or tremble. I don't know if anyone else can notice it, but I surely do. To everyone else, I may LOOK perfectly fine and normal, but inside I'm scared to death! It's awful! Even when I tell myself to "calm down" or to "relax", it doesn't help much. Sometimes, I even do deep breathing, but that's hard when you're secretly hyperventilating. ughghg...It drives me NUTS!!
I'm not sure if my "anxiety" is simply a social thing or just generalized anxiety disorder, because sometimes at my desk, I'll be sitting at my computer, and then I'll just think of something and all of a sudden I'll get butterflies in my stomach for apparently NO reason at all!! It's crazy!
I used to think that my symptoms were "normal", or just a sign of me being a "shy" person, or just "stage fright". But the older I get, the more I start to think that maybe my symptoms AREN'T normal. I'm a psychology major in school, so I should know. It's not like I'm afraid of what people will say about me when I speak, or that people will laugh at me. That's not it at all! I think I'm more afraid of saying the wrong thing, or loosing my train of thought (which happens often when I'm in my "panic" state). It's crazy. I just wish there were some magic pill I could take that could cure this. I'm very smart, and I have a lot of good ideas in my head, but when I don't say much people can think that I'm "shy" (when I don't think I'm really all that shy), or that I'm not "intelligent" (when I know that's not the case).
I've heard that when your body is in a constant state of "fight/flight" it can really mess up your physical health. It's not good for your body in the long run to be in a constant fight/flight stage. It's almost like my sympathetic nervous system is working overtime!
I need some help. Any advice?
So, does your anxiety come and go? Or is it constantly there? Is it in situations that deal with a large group of people? Or is it just one particular social setting (ie. public speaking, conferences). Mine usually occurs when speaking with large groups, or public speeches, and making comments in places like meetings, school, etc. But in smaller groups and speaking with people one on one I'm fine!! I would even say I'm gregarious at times. But in public speaking settings, I'm a nervous wreck. I definitely feel your pain. :-/ I wonder if anyone who has had anxiety disorder has been able to overcome it on their own through changing their thought processes, or if medication has been able to help them. If so...PLEASE post!!!
This disorder is so crazy and so unsettling. I feel like people don't know the great hardships I go through just to comment or say anything in a LARGE group. Chances are, people probably don't notice anything wrong with you, but still...the uncomfortableness is unnerving!
I don't have this anxiety all the time,Thank God. I dont think my body would be able to stand the pressure. I usually just get this way if I have to speak in a group or class setting. I recently attended a class on conflict resolution for my job, and we had to introduce ourself to the class. I almost came out of my chair when it was my turn. My heart was pounding so fast I could almost see my shirt moving. I barely made it through that. After that I calmed down quite a bit but was shaken up for an hour or so. I have tried Prozac and another med called xanax I think, with no luck. I recently got a book from the local library and have been reading about controlled breathing techniques and refocusing your mind on other pleasing things when the attacks come on. I'm going to try that. Thanks for the response.
Hey sweet_chic, I have your exact symptoms right down to a tee. The public speaking/speaking in class thing is killing me! A couple of years ago, I had to do a presentation in class and was super nervous before hand. Anyways I got up there and it wasn't so bad but it seemed like all the nerves suddenly came back and i had a massive panic attack. I almost had to ask the prof. if I could stop....but I made it through. Last year at about this time I did a presentation in front of a small group and the same thing happened. I have tons of anxiety about ridiculous things (basically its GAD i guess but i was never diagnosed with it) and probably some social anxiety there (but i cover that up really well). Anyways I think the attacks were caused by a couple of things....maybe u can relate to this:
1. caffeine: drank coffee before both presentations...other presentations when i did not have caffeine went fairly well although i was still really nervous.
2. low blood sugar?: this could be something too....when you don't eat for awhile sometimes your blood sugar gets low and this can cause anxiety/panic-like symptoms. One pres. was late in the afternoon and the other was early in the morning....hadnt ate before either of them so that might have been it.
3. Reading: when i actually have to read like 3 or more pages during a pres is when the panic sets in....probably because i go to fast or something and forget to breathe...so i kinda get choked up and it gets harder to breathe then.
But yeah just want to let you both know that I have your same symptoms and I can sympathize with you. Went to the clinic last night to get treated for a shoulder injury and brought up the anxiety thing. She gave me Ativan which apparently will halt a panic attack in its tracks.....but I've never taken benzo meds before so i'm kinda scared too...phobia i guess (LONG story). The thing is that you can't take it everyday because its addicting. Anyways, just a suggestion in case you want to look into that.
sweet chic and nvcoscm, you guys sound a lot like me. I am in my thirties, and ever since I can remember, throughout school and work, I have had similar problems. I donít have generalized anxiety, but only in threatening social situations. I used SSRI/Klonopin combo for work, and worked ok, but unwanted side effects. It was like being drunk (lost too much inhibition in terms of what I would say to boss, friends), and I was starting to develop tolerance, and went through hell coming off of Klonopin. Tried SSRI and SNRI by itself, and it helps, but not nearly enough. CBT also helps, but not enough. I am going to try some others drugs and combinations of (non benzo) drugs mentioned on these boards.
Although the underlying chemical imbalance that causes SA may be different from people to people, maybe those who share the same types of symptoms (like us) also share the same chemical imbalance, and would all respond the same way to different meds. Is there some way we can share notes on our medication experiences? I am located in Asia, where are you guys?
There are really good books out there now that will help you. Do a search on Lucinda Bassett, she is an author that has overcome anxiety disorders and classic panic attacks. She is very recognized for her work. There are other books out there too. Getting an uderstanding of why, what and how these things happen to trigger anxiety and why it happens to you will give you some answers in your quest to stop the problem.
Like you, I tried various medications too with no success. It seemed to make it worse for me. After I started understanding how I could control my own anxiety, I have been mostly anxiety/panic free with only a few slight incedences for years now. I am doing the things I had always wanted to and feeling really good about it. I have learned how to talk myself through the situation when I feel one coming on and how to use positive self-talk and bio-feedback. All of these things really helped me. I think it will work for you.
I think Lucinda has books on tape too and maybe videos if you don't have time to read. She was recommended to me and I have been recommending her to others for years.
I am in the same boat as you guys. I have the EXACT same reactions. I was just in a meeting at work, and my heart was jumping out of my chest waiting my turn for the simple act of saying my name. I also have a very hard time eating out in public. I feel like everyone is watching me and I make clumsy, twitchy movements.