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Anyone have any advice for me, with my social phobia?

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pixies

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I've suffered depression for about 15 years, I was taking Seroxat which helped but wore off after so many years. During all that time, I actually also had Social Anxiety Disorder too, but I didn't know and nobody had diagnosed it. I always assumed it was a nasty side effect of the Seroxat but I've since been off the Seroxat for almost 4 years and I'm now worse than ever. I got so bad I ended up at a psychiatrist and they diagnosed it and gave me a book to read about it, cognitive behaviour therapy. It seems like it would work but I can't really get it to work for me just yet. I need to see this psychiatrist again and have them help me work through it.

Anyway, some days I am ok and I can function almost like a normal person. But some days when I am tired (which is often as I have trouble sleeping), it makes my phobia far worse. The worst thing that happens for me is when I am with friends (this happened several times, the most recent being the other day), they will be joking with each other and someone will say something funny and everyone will burst out laughing because it's hilarious. I will maybe laugh for a split second but then it's like I get smacked in the face with some kind of horror and my smile immediately drops and a look of terror comes on my face... this is while everyone else is still laughing their heads off. They then look at me and my face is white as a sheet and I look scared, and they stop laughing and say, "Are you ok?"

Sometimes I turn away and try to hide it, and sometimes I make excuses like "yeah I'm ok thanks, I just get a bad pain in my back sometimes.." or something like that, but I think some of my friends realise I have mental problems now, (which makes me even more uncomfortable around them).

I have other issues too like sometimes I get a panic attack when I'm sitting with my friends watching a movie or something. One time I was in the cinema so nobody was even looking at me or talking to me, but I had to rush off and I nearly fainted. And also, if someone asks me something directly and it gets me off guard a bit, my face freezes up and I have trouble talking to them. The worst thing though is this terror which stops me from laughing mid-funny situation. It's just so noticeable and really bad for me.

Anyway, my psych I think hoped I could cure my problem without drugs. She suggested I go shopping in the day and start conversations whenever possible without looking like a nut. Like maybe ask someone for the time while waiting for the bus and whatnot. And also she said I should join night classes, cooking, spanish, whatever. I think she just wants me to get out and that will fix me up. On good days, I do this and it's very successful, but as soon as I have a bad night's sleep and the next day I feel completely exhausted, mentally and physically... everything goes to crap for me. I can sometimes tell people I'm ill and just not go out, but if I have to go out and see people and I feel like that... then I almost always have one of these bad moments which really is not good..

So anyway, sorry for the life story.. Can anyone suggest anything? I have thought about asking her to prescribe some medication for me because I took Seroxat years ago and it worked wonders, but it wore off after several years and I was back to square one. I wonder if I should get something else? Or maybe I should just be putting more effort in to going out and seeing people? Thanks in advance!

p.s. My depression doesn't bother me any more, but this social phobia thing is really messing me up. I need to get out and socialise to help overcome it, but doing that in the first place is so hard and triggers these bad situations which makes me even more fearful when I do it the next time.
 
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*Sapphire*

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Hi Pixie and :welcome: to the forum.

I can totally relate to your situation. My hands used to freeze mid air, especially when I was eating or holding something. It was horrible, it felt like I couldn't move my hands and any effort to do so would completely make my stomach turn and the world spin. I also got the shakes really bad, again in my hands which has prompted comments at times. When I was really bad I would have to sit down or if I couldn't hold onto something or a person because the world would literally spin and I felt like I couldn't walk in a straight line.

For me to get over it, I practiced relaxation even when I was not anxious and learned a technique where by just saying the word relax to myself over and over I can relax in minutes which would otherwise take an hour.

I also practice a technique or should I say way of life called mindfulness, there is alot about it on the web, again this has really helped me.

I was also given a low dose of a med and to be honest it is the only medication that has really helped me. In fact when I stop taking it the anxiety is so difficult to control, it is very noticeable.

And I also tell people. A great deal of my anxiety actually revolved around the fact that I was trying to hide my anxiety from people and whether they noticed! When I started telling people that I suffer with anxiety and it can make me act a bit strange because of the effects I generally don't get anxious afterwards! And if I do it is no where near as bad and I can take a breather and go back in.

However I do think that alot of your problem might be down to this...

On good days, I do this and it's very successful, but as soon as I have a bad night's sleep and the next day I feel completely exhausted, mentally and physically... everything goes to crap for me. I can sometimes tell people I'm ill and just not go out, but if I have to go out and see people and I feel like that... then I almost always have one of these bad moments which really is not good..
When I don't sleep my anxiety is much much worse and the same if I have a drink the night before. I have to be very careful and make sure that I sleep well because like you lack of sleep detiorates my mental health, plus if I don't sleep I become very depressed and tearful. It sucks because I seem to need to sleep an hour or two longer than most people anyway!

Perhaps you can ask your GP if you have the occassional problem sleeping and because of its effects on your socialising if there is anything they can suggest to help you get to sleep or sleep better. Or try to make sure you stick to a routine with sleep as much as possible.

Take care
Sapphire :)
 
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pixies

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Thank you that was helpful!

For me to get over it, I practiced relaxation even when I was not anxious and learned a technique where by just saying the word relax to myself over and over I can relax in minutes which would otherwise take an hour.
My psychiatrist gave me some information on that too. I need to put more time in to that. I like the idea of it but I haven't focused on it much because my problems hit me so fast in social situations, I literally have 1 second to react so I'm not sure if it could ever relax me fast enough.

I also practice a technique or should I say way of life called mindfulness, there is alot about it on the web, again this has really helped me.
Thanks I'll look in to that!

I was also given a low dose of a med and to be honest it is the only medication that has really helped me. In fact when I stop taking it the anxiety is so difficult to control, it is very noticeable.
What is the med called? The only I really used for a long time was Seroxat (called Paxil in the US) but it basically wore off and stopped working properly after so many years.

I also used to take illegal drugs as a kid, weed and stuff, which maybe made my problem worse, and so someone once prescribed me with some "anti psychotic" pills which someone else told me were really good, but I never got around to taking them because it would have meant me come off the Seroxat which I was scared to at the time. And now I forgot what these pills were called.

And I also tell people. A great deal of my anxiety actually revolved around the fact that I was trying to hide my anxiety from people and whether they noticed! When I started telling people that I suffer with anxiety and it can make me act a bit strange because of the effects I generally don't get anxious afterwards! And if I do it is no where near as bad and I can take a breather and go back in.
I really want to do that. I've been waaaaay too chicken to do that, but in the last year or two I've been thinking about it a lot. I have one judgemental friend who I'm wary of telling but it might work out better than I think.

When I don't sleep my anxiety is much much worse and the same if I have a drink the night before. I have to be very careful and make sure that I sleep well because like you lack of sleep detiorates my mental health, plus if I don't sleep I become very depressed and tearful. It sucks because I seem to need to sleep an hour or two longer than most people anyway!

Perhaps you can ask your GP if you have the occassional problem sleeping and because of its effects on your socialising if there is anything they can suggest to help you get to sleep or sleep better. Or try to make sure you stick to a routine with sleep as much as possible.

Take care
Sapphire :)
Yeah sleep is key for me. My psych has some meds she said I could take which will help me sleep and said she will give me the prescription any time I want, but she said that they only work for about a week or two and then the effect will wear off and you'll back to your usual self. They may help me get in a pattern though, but it's keeping the pattern I have the most trouble with. It's almost like some part of my subconscious tries to sabotage me by stopping me from sleeping, even when I'm tired.
 
trombone_babe

trombone_babe

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Hi, there are lots of different meds similar to seroxat that are also quite good with anxiety, perhaps ask your doc about it. I find that I get tolerant to them after a period of months/years and then change to another one of them. I don't have much trouble with the change as long as they're all the same type of drug. When I changed to a slightly different one (venlafaxine, which is a SNRI rather than a SSRI) I was a bit bad for a while. That didn't work for me anyway so I'm now back on a SSRI.

Also if you try one for a while and it doesn't suit you, don't be afraid to go back to the doc and tell him, then they can try another one.
 
Sugar Coated Owl

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I think if you were to do CBT with a psychiatrist/psychologist it would help you a lot. Medication may help but I think you need help addressing and working through your problems. There's a book that someone recommended on here, I think it's called Feel the fear and do it anyway, have a read if you can.
 
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pixies

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Thank you all :)

Going from SSRI to SSRI would probably be ok for me now. I could never do it in the past because I was so bad with depression and anxiety that when I came off it one time, I very nearly "lost it" completely. But I think now that I'm stable without any drug, maybe I could just start taking one to help me along and if it wears off, I know I can switch to another and won't feel too bad in the meantime hopefully.

But yeah I'd really like to see this CBT work for me. It seems really simple in theory but I'm having a hard time making it work for me by myself. I need to get this psychiatrist lady to help me with it some more.
 
Sugar Coated Owl

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In the meantime why not have a look at online CBT.
 
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pixies

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Thank you. The online stuff is great, it's hard though because I don't get a chance to really do it and practise it. Most of the time I'm ok in social situations, so when I'm out, I'm trying to keep it going and stay comfortable, so I try to shrug off any anxious feelings before they make any impact. But then when I'm tired, they ambush me all of a sudden and I'm completely unprepared.

It's my own fault though for not putting myself in more situations and teaching myself to deal with the feelings. I'm just such a chicken... I really need to go out in the day more and try to interact with people and be ready to work on any bad feelings as they happen. It's just hard, and I don't really have anywhere to go and I don't have many friends.
 
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Sugar Coated Owl

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Yes I can relate to that. I have no friends so don't tend to go anywhere. I just end up staying at home.

Good luck with the CBT though, if you can get it to work, you will definitely see the benefits.
 
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pixies

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Thank you razor, I'll really give it a shot before I start taking any new med.
 
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starfish

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dolores

to pixie, ive read your post, and you strike me as being a very brave person. at least you are trying very hard to help yourself. 2 comments 1, having the psych give you a book to work through sounds like poor treatment to me,2, i think you may find telling your friends that you suffer from anxiety helpfull, and if they react negatively then they are not worth having as friends. my advice, seek out some meds and give yourself a pat on the back when you are able to chat to people.
 
trombone_babe

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Razor, have you any links for online CBT?
 
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diddypinks

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hi

hi just a quetion why cant you take antiphycotics AND antidepressants at the same time i used to take seroxat and respiradone. dont take that seroquel is much better it can actually knock you out too so you would sleep better. goodluck diddy:)
 
tH@l35

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I would like some advice, I am a 20yr old male student, I have had social anxiety disorder/phobia since I was 10, but only discovered there was available treatment last month. In that time I have told nobody, apart from 3 general practioners, 2 of which were unhelpful. The third who I saw last week prescribed me Citalobram Hydrobromide and referred me to a CBT professional, which I am eternally grateful for as I have never had any support before now. However I went to my mum to explain the situation briefly, and to ask for money for the prescription and she reacted totally unfairly, she lectured to me all the 'bad things' that tablets do to you and suggested i 'think it over'. In retrospect, I'm assuming my mum simply misunderstands my condition because I didn't fully explain my anxiety. Has anyone got advice on how to tell family about this? What should I say? Would it help to ask my GP to explain?
 
tH@l35

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A great deal of my anxiety actually revolved around the fact that I was trying to hide my anxiety from people and whether they noticed!
This is exactly true of my condition, and has been for a long time. I've always thought that having social anxiety doesn't mean I hate socialising, it's more to do with being scared of how i'll come across to others, and so I aviod socialising, and become more anxious as a result.

When I started telling people that I suffer with anxiety and it can make me act a bit strange because of the effects I generally don't get anxious afterwards! And if I do it is no where near as bad and I can take a breather and go back in.
I've been thinking about telling others for ages and i'm sure it would help my situation. At college I really feel isolated from those around me and I think it's getting worse. I think that the people around me at college believe I hate them, but i'm just too anxious to talk to them. This may sound silly but; how can I properly explain to others what i'm going through?

John.
 
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