Not every reclusive person suffers from social anxiety disorder.  Some people just don’t like to mingle.  Some people find themselves uncomfortable in social situations and avoid them not so much out of fear, but out of preference .

Personally, I love being home alone.  I love not having to explain myself, to persuade others to accommodate my needs, to wonder how I’m judged and not having to figure out my place and my position in unfamiliar surroundings. I’m King  in my home and “It’s Good to Be the King”.

Okay, I can see in the preceding paragraph, that these preferences can be limiting.  I can see symptoms which are also present in those who do in fact suffer from social anxiety disorder, but I do not regard a preference for solitude necessarily as a disorder.

“I’ve deliberately created a business which enables me to work from my home and avoid interacting with too many people, however as the economy continues to slide and  my business model is forced to adapt, I am having some difficulty adjusting to having to interact with other people and my finances are suffering as a consequence.” Should this person be unable to adjust, I believe you would cross the boundary from preference to disorder.

I, like many, really don’t like people as a whole. I find little value in trite everyday conversation.  In my youth I had a rich social life.  My hormones overcame my discomfort.  But as those needs diminished over time, so did my willingness to pay social dues. I would resent having to pay those dues again for the sake of a few dollars, but I could and would do it. I just wouldn’t be happy about it.

I understand extreme social anxiety, but I assert strongly that not everyone who’s chosen to sequestered themselves, suffers from a disorder anymore than those of us who prefer to eat vanilla ice cream suffer  from a chocolate anxiety disorder.  I personally would just prefer to be alone… most of the time. And I favor Cherry Garcia.

I’m encountering more and more people who have chosen the  path of semi-isolation, of adapting their careers and lifestyles to their personal preference of avoiding anxiety producing situations.  Perhaps the very fact that social situations produce anxiety, is a manifestation of a disorder, but I don’t think so.  We see enough television (news) and have enough negative memories to believe rightly that social interaction has risks. It can lead to conflicts, it can lead to friendships that invade boundaries, obligations which cause resentment and waste a lot of time that can be used for productivity and creativity. Only the individual can decide whether any gain from interacting is worth the price.

As long as it does not limit the quality of one’s life; as long as it does not prevent self actualization and the fulfillment of needs; and as long as it continues to feel like a choice rather than a phobia, creating a lifestyle of semi-solitude is just fine.

Look, I know I don’t post here enough. I’m too busy trying to survive these difficult economic times to devote energy to the things I value most, like this Web Site, but I read this article in the New York Times today that is so good, so important that I had to pass it on. Read This. Read This. Read This and know that you are not a freak.

My favorite line in this three page article is a quote from Winifred Gallagher: “Neither E=mc2 nor ‘Paradise Lost’ was dashed off by a party animal.”

Here’s the article. Read it all.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/opinion/sunday/26shyness.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

 

Here are the steps for conquering social anxiety:

Social anxiety is a very common problem. There are many causes, but most people can recover without any type of counseling by a professional.  If you have this problem, the effects of it can be quite unsettling.  There may be feelings of isolation, self-consciousness, or nervousness around groups along with a number of physical symptoms too. Sometimes, these people get shaky hands, sweaty hands, or nausea in their abdomen.

There are certain things you can do to help you to overcome this ailment. Below is a description of five ways that work.

If you are not comfortable in a natural live setting, try the virtual one.  Perhaps you like to travel or to grow flowers. There are so many chat boards based on these areas. By going online, you can take a look at them and see what the people who do these things are like.  If you look for friendly people, then you can sign up and post your blogs on there as well.  You must first socialize, even if it is not in person.

Once you have done this, move on to the next step. Broaden your horizons and talk to more people, but this time, do it in person. You can join a live group in your area that will give you the necessary support you need.  Remember, they are exactly the same way as you are and your group’s leader will know how to engage people in ways that do not seem threatening to anyone.  Be sure that you go and have lots of fun!

After this, you should talk to several of the group and see if they would like to go have coffee or perhaps take a walk.
It will probably not be near as terrifying as you imagine. You might find that it is easier to talk and enjoy other people’s company.

Once you get comfortable in your group, invite a group of people to your home for dinner or lunch. It does not have to be a whole lot of people, maybe four.  You should be a more confident person by now without the sweat and heart palpitating all the while you are talking to someone. With your experience now and the support of your group, you are ready to take the big plunge.

All during the process, make sure you write in a journal or diary about all of these different milestones toward conquering your social anxiety.  Write down what your thoughts are, and also anything positive that has happened to you and things that people find in you that makes you a good friend.  The list will be much longer than you think it will.  You can look back and just enjoy this memento of your success.  Good luck with your journey!

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder

Another name for the social anxiety disorder is social phobia. This occurs when a person is just terrified to be in any kind of social situation.  The worry and overly self-consciousness come from being afraid of being watched or criticized by our peers.

Persons with this disorder are fearful that he or she will do something humiliating in front of other people. They may not have good social skills or not be comfortable in these settings, and that can make matters worse. Some people go from there into a full-blown panic attack. You might simply try to hide from social situations or be very uncomfortable in them.  They may also have a condition known as anticipatory anxiety. This is just a fear that something is going to happen before it actually does, and this can take place many days or weeks before a social encounter is supposed to happen. Usually, they will realize that this is an unreasonable fear but may not be able to control it.

This particular disorder incorporates untrue or very exaggerated beliefs about what happens in social situations and what negative opinions others may have about them. If they do not seek treatment, this can have a very negative impact on the individual’s daily activities, including their school life, work, social situations, and any type of relationships as well.

If the person has only a mild case, he may be afraid of a certain type of event, such as giving a speech. Usually, however, the fear involves more than one type of event such as eating, writing, being in a group with others, having everyone’s attention on them, asking questions, or even answering questions in public, or maybe something as necessary as using a public lavatory or phone calls.

There are other mental illnesses such as panic attacks, ocdc (obsessive-compulsive disorder, or major depression.  Many people first seek help with complaints from these other illnesses and not this one.

Do not try to take care of this situation by yourself alone. If you feel like you are a sinking ship, and the anxiety is getting the best of you, or affecting your relationships or your work itself, then you probably should make an appointment with your doctor to talk about treatment options. Do not be embarrassed by this disorder and know that there are many people out there just like you. Do not suffer in silence.

Your doctor can talk with you about various treatment plans that will help you get this under control and be able to have a better quality of life.  You may have to take medication to change your brain’s chemistry to lessen many of the symptoms that are so uncomfortable.  Plus, the doctor can also prescribe psychotherapy with a medical professional that will work with you to change your thoughts leading up to the stress and worry that go along with your anxiety.

Remember, talk to a medical professional and do not use this advice in substitution for their expert help.

What is Agoraphobia?

Fear of travel is the most commonly used definition of agoraphobia.  It can become serious when a person cannot bring themselves to leave their home or only a mild case where they can only travel a short distance away from their home.  When they step outside what they consider a safe distance, they may have a panic attack.

Take small steps in order to slow these attacks. If you want to overcome them finally, then you have to start by setting goals of ways to overcome your agoraphobia attacks.  A good support group of relatives and pals will help you get through this plan.

An attack can be most frustrating for someone who does suffer from these types of attacks. There is often less rationale for these than for the usual kind of panic attacks. If you are afraid of public areas, that can result from social anxiety. A person who suffers from agoraphobic attacks may be so embarrassed they are afraid to travel in case they suffer an attack in public.

You have to learn to push yourself and your limits in order to overcome these attacks. This makes it harder to treat and so many attacks worsen in intensity before they lessen.  If you stay within a safe zone all the time, then you can sort of ignore your condition.  But even though you can ignore it for a while, remember it is just a symptom of a chronic social disorder. It will not go away just because you ignore it; you must face your fears head-on and work through them.
That is the only way you will ever be able to conquer them completely.

A little at a time, you can overcome agoraphobia.  It take a whole lot of patience and some time. This is when you really need to find a trusted friend to help you through this time in your life.

Social Anxiety Defined

Diagnosing social anxiety can be complex since the symptoms can be so diverse. This anxiety might manifest as a specific fear in some individuals, involving drinking and eating. Some individuals experience anxiety when writing and speaking around others or before a group. Another symptom is fear of public restrooms and difficulty using them. More extreme cases cause the sufferers to experience anxiety and fear regardless of the social situation, preventing these individuals from ever being able to relax and enjoy events involving other people.

For those with social anxiety, the seemingly mundane and boring regular routines engaged in by the majority of people are a source of terror and constant preoccupation to the anxiety suffer. This terror can leave him or her too paralyzed with fear to act or perform necessary daily functions. The condition can result in the inability to get to work or attend school because of the irrational dread of being noticed or observed. With these symptoms the person is usually incapable of forming any normal, comfortable relationship with another person because they not only cannot comfortably meet people, they cannot interact and enjoy activities with friends. Only a very understanding and patient friend can handle these kinds of symptoms that severely limit what a person can tolerate doing without experiencing anxiety. Typical physical symptoms that an observer might notice are:

- Frequent blushing when interacting in groups of people
- Perspiring heavily due to anxiety, even though the temperature is cool and comfortable
- Actually developing shaky hands or body when having to deal with another person who has addressed or approached him or her.
- Nausea or even vomiting due to unrelieved anxiety
- Inability to speak without great effort

Social anxiety is not rare-around 5.3 million adult Americans have this disorder and it afflicts men and women equally. The condition usually starts to affect the person when still a child or as she enters her teenage years. Some experts feel there may be a genetic component to developing this social phobia, making close family members of a sufferer more susceptible to also having social anxiety problems.

The symptoms of social anxiety can be so stressful and debilitating those persons frequently start self-medicating to alleviate their symptoms. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs – both over-the-counter and uncontrolled substances–are often the symptom-relievers of choice, frequently leading to their abuse. Addictions compound the problems of social anxiety. Sufferers should not try to handle this condition on their own. Professional help of a doctor and psychotherapist can diagnose the condition and medical professionals can prescribe medications that will be truly effective without exacerbating the problem.

Coping with Social Anxiety Disorder

One of the most common disorders in our society is social anxiety. There are many causes of it, but most people can work to overcome their anxiety without need of a professional therapist.  If you have this ailment, the symptoms can be very unnerving. You may feel like you are isolated and alone, be very self-conscious, and also feel nervous anytime you are in a group of people.  You might even suffer physical ailments as well. There are some people whose hands tremble and get sweaty or they may feel sick to their stomach.  You can take some proactive steps towards working through this disorder. Take a look at these five methods that can be effective:

If you are too uncomfortable in a group, try getting used to a virtual environment. If you love to explore new places, for example, there are many chat rooms online that you can join in on and comment about the subject. Take time and look at them and see if you can figure out what the people participating are like. You may find some that are very friendly. Sign up so that you can post your own comments and start socializing in this way. Even though you are not right there in the room with them, it is still a way of communicating with others.

Once you are comfortable with the online situations, do not stop at this point. You are evidently wanting to be friends with people so you need to continue to make friends. Being able to overcome your social anxiety means that you feel like you have valuable input and a great personality that you want to share with others.  There might be a live support group somewhere in your neighborhood that you can join. When you do go, take care to remember that the people there are exactly like you and the leader will know how to get people to open up about their problems. Go and have some fun there!

After a while, you will be more relaxed with your support group, and you can try inviting one or more of them to have some coffee or take a walk around the block.  You do not need to be scared; they are in the same boat as you are. It will make conversation easier and enjoyable.

The biggest step is to finally invite some people over to your home for dinner or lunch.  It does not have to be a large group of people, maybe just four or five.  You will have a higher level of confidence now.  You have enough support from your friends and enough experience at dealing with your social disorder to make this party successful. Remember that they are perhaps feeling anxious just like you are, but they are happy to be invited and to be a part of your life. You can encourage them just as they encourage you.

A Look at Panic Attacks

Even in this modern age, there is still a stigma attached to nervous disorders. If someone is having a panic attack, someone else is likely to believe that person just wants to get attention. While a panic attack is not a well-known medical diagnosis, it is definitely serious. Panic attacks as a disorder have both mental and physical symptoms. If left untreated, these can become debilitating. Patients having panic attacks should be examined by a physician and get treatment to gain control over the disorder.

Classified as an actual disorder, panic attacks are recognized as “generalized anxiety disorder” by the federal government’s mental health department (NIMH). Other disorders in the anxiety category include post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, and social phobias. It is estimated that over 20 million Americans suffer with at least one form of anxiety problem great enough to be considered a disorder.

A panic attack is characterized by having an intense feeling of generalized, irrational and unfocused fear while experiencing a racing heart beat that occurs spontaneously and lasts for a  period of time (up to fifteen to twenty minutes). Chest pains, shortness of breath, tremors and excessive perspiration, nausea , a choking sensation, headaches, and hot flashes or chills are other symptoms of a panic attack. The person affected may have some or all of these symptoms and be fearful of going insane or having a heart attack. Panic attacks will occur without warning and become an interruption in lifestyle, so anyone who has experienced more than one should seek medical help.

Everyone will experience some form of extreme stress or tension in their lives, This is not considered a panic disorder. Having been frightened by experiencing several panic attacks and beginning to live in fear of having others, worrying constantly, and making changes in lifestyle because of these attacks is symptomatic of the disorder.

Having experienced even one panic attack, you should see a doctor. Make notes about the symptoms you displayed, the place and time of the attack, how long it lasted and what you were doing when the attack begin. This detail will help your doctor in making the right diagnosis and finding the most effective treatments. Panic attacks may occur while you are suffering from some other anxiety-related disorder, so the more information you can provide for your medical treatment the better the treatment plan will help.

Panic attacks are indeed real. A person experiencing one needs to be assisted to a quiet place until it passes, then taken to medical help. This is a treatable condition once the patient understands what is happening to him or her.

The Social Anxiety Experience

Social anxiety is a problem that can affect millions of people around the globe. It can be transient, due to significant events in a person’s life, or can be a chronic problem that can can have a crippling effect on the lives of those it touches. The symptoms can vary widely from one person to the next, so it is not always easy to diagnose. Anyone who experiences unbearable feelings of extreme anxiety or panic when in a social setting may have social anxiety disorder. They would be well advised to consult with a doctor, as proper treatment can successfully rid them of the feelings of paralyzing fear and lead them back to a normal, happy life.

Social anxiety disorder can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms include feelings of fear that may seem to be irrational or unwarranted for the situation. Whereas it is not uncommon for most people to experience a bit of anxiety from time to time when faced with social events or unfamiliar surroundings, the feelings associated with social anxiety disorder can be extreme and consistent. Sufferers can experience strong sensations of fear regarding their behavior or the perceptions other people may have of them, worrying that  they may make mistakes, humiliate themselves, be overly flawed or be harshly judged by others. These fears can lead to heart palpitations, trembling, excessive blushing, perspiration, nausea, dizziness and speech problems.

Bashfulness or inherent shyness should not be confused with social anxiety. Shyness may feel uncomfortable, but is not debilitating in the same way as anxiety can be. Panic attacks related to social anxiety disorder can result in physical disablement, often preventing a person from movement. It can have a profound effect on a person’s life, limiting the ability to hold down a job or interact with other people.

Although it can affect anyone, social anxiety disorder is frequently experienced in conjunction with other problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many sufferers exacerbate the problem by self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. The only truly effective way to achieve long-term successful relief is to seek professional help. A competent physician can help a patient obtain the right treatment, streamlined for his or her specific situation. Some of the varied treatments include cognitive and behavioral therapy, medication, counseling and meditative practices designed to help increase self-awareness. This can promote the ability of the patient to achieve a sense of calm and learn to deal with social situations in a controlled setting. By working together, the doctor and patient can find the most effective method of reclaiming a happy and productive life without the constraints of anxiety.

A few weeks ago, I attended my first social networking meeting in many years.  I was inwardly uncomfortable from the second I arrived.  Though I concealed it fairly well, my inward awkwardness prevented me from taking advantage of a host of opportunities that presented themselves.

I did speak with many people, mainly because they approached me, however I was unable to initiate conversation myself.  I collected several business cards and only realize a week later that I hadn’t followed up on any of the contacts.  I had been so impressed by having taken the action to drive to another city and mingle with strangers that I thought I had accomplished my mission.  But my mission was to gather clients for my consulting business and in that I failed.

During the gathering, which took place in an upscale bar, a place I would never choose to be on my own, there was time allocated for the more aggressive business people to introduce themselves to the group.  I forced myself to be one of the people who was called on to speak.  I saw myself, incredulously, leaning against the bar, introducing myself and discussing my business.  As my mind began to cloud over, I forgot half of what I should have said about the benefits of my practice. My attempt at humor was feeble, and may well a been misunderstood by many, but surprisingly I didn’t care.

In retrospect, I still don’t care whether they thought I was a rebel or a clown.  These people meant nothing to me, they were strangers, extras in the movie of my life.  What I care about is my own failure to take that opportunity, post speaking, to converse with the people who expressed an interest in my services.  All I wanted to do was to withdraw an escape.  I was spent.  There was nothing left to draw on.  I just wanted to go home, and after sequestering myself in a corner of the bar as I suck down my third or fourth Cola, I did just that.

Today there was a scheduled network meeting at lunchtime in a bar in my own town.  I knew I should attend.  I woke myself up early enough so that I could make the meeting.  Instead I chose to work on my websites.  Working on my sites is important, however considering the urgency of my finances, acquiring new clients was certainly a higher priority.  I chose to avoid a situation that was uncomfortable and rationalized the decision.

I will be productive today.  I will work in solitude until I drop, but I know that the thing I really should have done, was to attend that meeting and seek out an immediate income source. I know I didn’t because I would find the situation unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

There’s an ancient parable where the spiritual master encounters his disciple furiously searching in the grass and asks: “What are you doing?”  “Master I lost the keys to the temple.”  “Where did you lose them?”  Asked the Master.

“Well”, said the student,  “I’m pretty sure I lost them in the temple but there’s so much more light out here.”

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