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I was diagnosed with "Social Phobia"

Hi sorry I didn't know what section to put this in. For the past 10 years, my life has been hell. I have barely left the house, had minimal contact with friends or relationships. I am 29 now, and it started when I was 19, so basically I have lost my youth.

I spent most of the time suicidal and trying hard not to kill myself. I first had problems when I was about 18 or 19, and my doctor diagnosed me with clinical depression, and gave me medication. Basically I have been on that medication since and although the depression got better in that time, I had major social problems. I had no idea that it was another problem - I thought it was just the depression.

I have now decided to come off the depression medication, and I saw a specialist who revealed to me that I have a "social phobia". They have arranged for me to see a psychologist who will evidently teach me "coping mechanisms". I am convinced that their diagnosis is amazing because I have researched it and I think they were bang on, and I yet I had no idea there even was such a thing. I am also sure they will really help me. But heres the catch. They said it will be months, maybe 6 months or more, until I can get the psychology.  In the meantime I am worse than ever because I can barely see people without freaking out.

So basically, would anyone here please be able to give me ANY kind of "coping mechanism" to help me get through the next few months or more? If I could go buy groceries without having major trouble, or if I could see my friends without having to get drunk to loosen me up, it would change my life. Also, is it possible that by just talking to a psychologist, that I could be cured of this thing which is basically destroying me life?

Thank you
5 Responses
366811 tn?1217426272
Well, you've already found one coping mechanism. This is it, this site, the people here, including those who are JUST like you! No kidding.

But to get you started, go to the HealthPages link above right, and then select FAQs. There you will see an item about the kinds or types of anxiety. Read it over. Then, have a look at some of my journals:

Two ways to get there:

From MY Profile: Click on my name to go to my profile page. There, click on the Journals Tab. Then Click List View -the journals will appear as a list.

From YOUR browser address box : Copy or type the URL address (the "www..." address) in your browser address box to go directly to the journal.

These items in particular might be helpful:

Where is it Coming From?  www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/9206
Meet the Panic Family  www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/7843
Avatar universal
Thank you so much, that is an interesting read. The top 10 list. It's going to be really hard conditioning myself to do those things but hopefully with some practice I can do it.

Do you know is it possible that I can overcome this phobia if I do these things? Or will I need some kind of medication as well or something? I actually feel well and good about myself now, but as soon as I meet another person who I don't know well, my entire body freezes so bad that I feel like I am spazming and I can barely move, and my face starts twitching etc.. and I feel like I am going to black out.

Can something that severe be fixed by just changing my thought processes and focussing on different things etc.?

Thanks again.
Avatar universal
Also, is it possible that by just talking to a psychologist, that I could be cured of this thing which is basically destroying me life?


I copied the above sentence from your posting.  The answer is "yes" and the the talking part is called "cognitive behavioral therapy" or CBT.  Social phobia and social anxiety are the same thing so you found the correct forum.  Also, many people who suffer from social anxiety are co-morbid with other issues as depression or sensitivity issues.  I'm wondering if the anxiety was the reason for the depression.  By the way, the treatment for anxiety is usually a multi-modal approach - intervention, therapy and often medication.  The meds used usually are SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) which are also antidepressants (as Celexa, Zoloft, Lexapro, etc.).  Did your doctor tell you to go off of your meds  or did you make this decision yourself?  I think you should speak to your doctor about this as depression is often a part of anxiety.

I know several people who suffer from severe anxiety and "yes" one can learn how to manage these fears/anxieties and lead a very normal, active life.  The CBT can literally be life-changing if you find the correct professional.  One more thing - social anxiety is highly treatable.   I wish you the best ..
Avatar universal
Can something that severe be fixed by just changing my thought processes and focussing on different things etc.?

I copied the above sentence from your second posting and the answer is "yes"  And the "conditioning"aspect is sometimes referred to as intervention.  Yes, it will be really hard the first time to do things, the second time it will be a tiny tiny bit easier, the third time it will be a tiny bit easier, etc.  Of course you feel well when not confronted by your fears (meeting people) and the reactions you stated are so common - the body freezes and probably the voice won't work - how about sleeping (is that a problem?).  By the way, the meds do not "fix" the problem but only "takes the edge off" of your anxieties.  It will be the CBT that will teach you how to be "you" in social situations and for some people, it is not a long process.  Keep writing and searching ...
Avatar universal
Thank you so much this is all really useful to me.

I too have wondered if it caused the depression in the first place, of if maybe it was the depression that caused the social thing. It's hard to know but I think I had a mild feeling of social inadequacy which gradually got worse and that lead to depression and then a more serious social phobia. It makes me so sad thinking about how much of my life I have lost to this, but it is comforting to think that I at least have it diagnosed now. It's so relieving to at least know what the enemy is basically..

As for the meds, I made the decision myself based on 3 things. Firstly I had been on them for 10 years straight, so I figured that should be enough. Secondly my erections were always pretty weak when on the medication and I experienced a lack of sensation, both physical and emotional. And thirdly, I was convinced that the strange things I was experiencing, was a result of the medication.

I believed that because I knew it wasn't a symptom of depression, and I had read lots of horror stories about the medication I was on (Seroxat / Paroxetine), so I just assumed that was the cause of my strange behaviour. After I had finally come off the medication (so hard with serious withdrawal), I went to see my doctor who thought it was probably ok considering how long I had been on it, but he wasn't sure what my strange problems were, so he referred me to a specialist. The specialist after just a 1 hour consultation told me that I had a "social phobia". It was the first time anyone I had told me... So I had basically spent 10 years treating depression when my main problem was this phobia :(

I am tempted to go back on the medication now that I know it's actually harmless for me (besides the erection issue), but I would rather be "drug free" if possible, and I hoped the psychologist might be able to advise me whether I should take that again, in addition to the therapy, but now I find out that I have to wait a really long time until I can even see the psychologist.

Knowing that this is treatable (if only in part) by just thinking differently, is a massive help to me. I will really try hard to get good at this new way of thinking because I know it will change my life when I get used to it.

Thanks again.
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