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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Anxiety in social situations

 Esabetteri - Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:19 pm

I am 21 year old male, just about to start my studies in college.

My problem is that im afraid of social situations, i mean with people i don't know at all. I don't have this problem at school, but in situations like when riding a bus I feel a lot of anxiety, especially if someone is facing me. Its worse if there are two people that face me and talk to each other & laugh etc, i get the feeling they are laughing at me. I know this is really ridiculous, but i still feel anxious. If i have friend with me i have no such feeling. Thats why I usually try to take seat from the back.

I cant go to situations like bar alone, because i would feel anxious. Thats why I usually just hang around with my friends there and never really try to meet girls or anything like that, thats why ive never had a girlfriend, even though there were cases where they would approach me, I usually think on those situations they are just messing with me and later think what idiot i am.

Despite this ive been able to live quite normal life, I succesfully went through army last year and had no problems while being there in service, because there we knew each other so well, but whenever we were on leave i felt anxious. I was quite good in hiding it there, but few buddies I had noticed it since we spent quite some time together in bars, they were quite suprised when i told them ive never had relationship with girl.

I was also an exchange student and i had to keep quite a few reprecentations about my year. I always felt really anxious and tried not to look anyone to face.

Im also a bit afraid of dark if im alone, this usually happens maybe once or twice a month, sometimes i end up sleeping while having lights on. Didnt have this problem in army because we always had more than 12 people on same room...

I sometimes lose my temper too from some really minor issues, usually happens with people i know really well, like my parents & close friends. I always feel really bad afterwards. It usually includes swearing & throwing stuff etc, I have never hit anyone or anything like that though.

And im also really afraid to talk about these issues to anyone, because im afraid i would be branded as second class citizen, i was especially afraid to reveal this while in army, I am sure they would have never trained me as NCO if they knew i had such issues.

So, what do you think i have? Is there any situation to my problem or am i only a person without backbone?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:51 pm

Hi -

What you describe sounds very much like an anxiety disorder. There are elements in what you describe of personal insecurity and social phobia. Exposure to the social situation (being on the bus alone, meeting new people/girls, entering new situations) creates anxiety and fear. When not in those situations, a person tends to worry about what will happen when they do face those situations, and then are even more anxious when the situations happen. It becomes a vicious cycle. The episodes of fear of the dark can be an expression of fear of the unknown, or related to a feeling of personal insecurity, or related to chronic anxiety. Treatment is pretty straightforward: generally an anti-anxiety medication which may be prescribed to be used routinely or to be used as needed, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, in which the person is helped to understand the source of the anxiety and to learn new behaviors to deal with the anxiety. A good place to start is to talk with your doctor, and share with him or her all that you have shared on this forum. You can consider asking for a referral to a therapist if needed. These disorders are quite common, and respond very well to treatment.

Good luck to you.

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