I have trouble sometimes being in a room with people I do not know. My heart starts racing and beats irregularly and I feel like I am having a mild panic attack. Are there any cognitive techniques I practice or any other coping skills that can help to bring me out of this. I meet with a social worker but she moslty asks me about my mood and we do not get to spend a lot of time together so I want to start working on this myself. I am scared to move too fast but if anyone can tell me some ways to slowly start working on my social anxiety, I would apprecate it. I am taking Abilify but I have read that it doesn't help with anxiety.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
When you write "I have trouble SOMETIMES being in a room with people I do not know," does that mean that sometimes you DON'T have trouble?
If I am reading that correctly, I'd suggest trying to figure out what makes you anxious one time and not the next. You answer could be found in that.
There are a number of coping skills you could try in these situations, but because I am fortunate and don't suffer as you do, I'm not real familiar with them. I'm not crazy about public speaking, and if and when I find myself having to do that, there are several things I do.
The very first task I set for myself is to know the material backwards and forwards. Not enough can be said for prep work. I will even go so far as to have friends compile lists of questions if the floor will be open for Q&A after my talk. I try to cover as many bases as I can, so even if my heart is pounding away, I don't (often) get that deer in the headlights feeling. In your case, that prep work could consist of essentially the same thing. If you're in a group of people you don't know for business related reasons, make sure you know as much about the business at hand as you possibly can. Be preprared for possible questions, and if you don't know the answer to a specific question, instead of saying "I don't know," which can undermine your confidence, have the name of a person at the ready whom you can recommend as the "go to" person for the answer their looking for.
If you are referring to more social type gatherings, actually the same principals apply. Spend some time catching up on current events, the newest movies and books from the Best Seller list..I'm not saying you need to run out the week before the gathering and watch non-stop movies or have your nose in a book constantly, but reading fairly in depth reviews will at least give you some comfortable leeway in knowing what they are about.
There are relaxation/coping skills that you can do even while surrounded by people. Deep breathing exercises will not be noticed and they really can work if you feel yourself tipping towards anxiety.
I found myself once having to speak in front of a really large group of people with absolutely nothing prepared. My panic level was reaching critical mass when I very surprisingly told the audience that I was petrified at that moment, couldn't think of a single thing to say, and admitted that public speaking scared me.....well, speechless. When THAT got a laugh, I then asked if anyone out there could understand how I felt. I am positive that every single hand in that room went up. I was not suddenly and miraculously cured of my phobia, a wonderful speech did not pop into my head, my knees continued to shake.................but something inside me sort of unfroze, I was no longer terrified that every person in that audience was against me, and after seveal deep breaths, I did the best I could. Which wasn't bad, if I do say so my own self.
There are many self-help books avaiable that deal with just about every phobia out there. It might be worthwhile to browse through some. There are also support groups available on-line.
You are correct that the Abilfy will not help with your social anxiety. And while I do not mean to imply that your social worker has not helped you, very few, if any, social workers are trained psychologists who can help you with this problem. It may be worth considering professional therapy to beat this phobia once and for all.
The last suggestion I have would be to discuss this issue with your doctor and if these gatherings are few and far between, there are very mild anit-anxiety meds you could take to help you relax.
Pills may help, but they won't solve the problem and I get the feeling that is your goal.
I really believe therapy would be the most beneficial for you. Just know that you are not alone in this phobia. Millions of people suffer from it and many of them have overcome it.
I will hope that someone on this forum who also suffers with social phobia/anxiety will post with better answers for you.
You CAN beat this, ya know!
I wish you the best
Hi there and welcome to med help. I've had some issues with social anxiety as well. It can be a bummer especially when you are looking forward to something and that takes over the entire event for you.
One thing that helps me is deep breathing and in particular, square breathing. Here is how you do that: breath in for 4, hold 4, breath out for 4, hold 4, repeat. This slows down the heart rate and helps to make me feel calm and more in control.
It has also helped me to have some general things to have conversation about and conversation starters to use. I look at the newspaper, listen to the news, etc. helps to be able to begin a conversation with just about anyone or join one. So, making some effort with this is helpful.
Often going with a friend that is sympathetic to your anxiety is helpful. I have friends over the year that we kind of move through a party or social gathering as a pair. When working at work functions, same thing. I had colleagues that I was friendly with and would begin an event by greeting them and chatting in the group that they are in. As I got more comfortable, I'd add to my aquaintences to chat with.
I also tried to change my perception of the situation. Realizing that we are all human and that many feel a touch of anxiety in new social situations (or old ones even that one is still getting comfortable with) helps. Trust me, you are not the only one feeling anxious at a social gathering. Look for others looking for people to talk to. They are always there.
Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI's have indications for social anxiety and work very well. I tried Prozac with great success.
Lots of luck to you. Feel free to contact me any time. I still occasionally get nervous but over the years have much less social anxiety.
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