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  1. #1

    Social Anxiety Attacks

    I'm not really sure whether what I experience are technically anxiety attacks, but I'd really appreciate any comments and feedback.

    To start, I'm 18 years old and not very social. I have a small circle of friends, but even so, I don't hang out with them much. I tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations, even with close friends, so I figure, why be around people and be uncomfortable, when I could just stay at home by myself and feel comfortable? I do like being alone, I'm not lonely or depressed. My family are the only people that I can be around comfortably.

    And generally, I am a happy person. I laugh at everything and I don't stress out over petty troubles.

    So. A few times in the past, I've gotten a sort of panic attack in social situations. Like one time, about a year ago, I was spending a week at my best friend's house in a different state, and the first two or three days were great, no problems. I was having a great time, her's is like a second family to me. But then, one afternoon we were making homemade ice cream and baking cookies while our favorite movies were on in the background, and I suddenly felt really content and at ease. But as soon as I felt so elated, it was as if my emotions just crashed. All the content that I felt a moment ago was replaced by complete and utter dread and misery. I felt like running away from the kitchen and house and being alone.

    It was really difficult not to show terrified I felt so suddenly, but I managed to smile and excuse myself to the bathroom, where I had to take a few minutes to compose myself. After a little while, I managed to go back to the kitchen with a grin. I couldn't find it in me to talk just yet, but I let her talk on about something I wasnt paying attension to and after a while I just sort of forgot the feeling and everything was fine again. But for the rest of the time I was there I was terrefied that it would happen again.

    I tried to distance myself from my friend some by staying in bed for an extra few hours, even when I was awake, to get some time away from her. I figured that the trigger was being elated. I thought about all the times that I've had that sort of attack, and they were all linked to times when I was really happy.

    Also, I think another problem I have is tied in to this one: I feel good about being upset and under stressful situations. I don't get stressed, really. Rather I enjoy having something to complain about. If everything goes well for a long time, then I start feeling a bit depressed. I think that I have a sort of fear of not having full control. As if when I'm feeling good, it's inevitable for the feeling to go away and I can't do anything about it, so I keep control by self-inducing the reduction of my happiness before something else does. I don't know... Please tell me your insights and opinions. Thanks

  2. #2

    Social Anxiety Attacks

    I would want to explore the likeliohood of some sort of anxiety disorder, definitely. It does sound like a panic attack, as you describe it. Whether that is secondary to social anxiety or something else (e.g., any OCD symptoms? excessive worrying? resistance to change? intolerance of ambiguity or uncertainty?) isn't clear.

  3. #3

    -

    My father had mild OCD when he was a child and I have similar symptoms. I've never been to a psychiatrist so I haven't been diagnosed with OCD, but I think that I might have it. My pen cap has to be aligned with the text on the pen for me to use it, when holding my TV remote control I have to make circles around the power button with my thumb, if the refridgerator door doesn't close with the "right" sound I have to stand there opening and closing it repeatedly until I'm satisfied, I sometimes get a panicky feeling when I'm alone in public that people are watching me and smirking that I'm alone so I have to take out my cell phone and call someone while looking impatient, dishes are never clean enough for me to use, etc.

    I don't like change: I'd be most content with living the same routine each day. If I had the choice for change or no change, I'd chose no change, but if I knew that change was inevitable, like I have to move somewhere new or switch the classes I'm taking in school, then I can generally convince myself that it's fine, its okay, and I can cope with it.

    I don't think that i have excessive worrying. I don't freak out over things normally. If something isn't the way I want it or need it, I'm able to stay calm and find a solution, usually. Sometimes, though, I have trouble keeping my cool and I go into a sort of panic attack. Like if I'm in a bad mood, something in me starts acting up and its as if I get real OCD problems which make it hard for me to breathe when triggered and I have to sit down, close my eyes, and convince myself to calm down, that evertyhing's fine and I have to just calm down.

    I don't have an intolerance of uncertainty. I'm fine with that, unless I'm thinking about astronomy, physics, or philosophy. I studied the subjects intensely for a few years, but then the wieght of my inability to actually KNOW anything in the field started crushing me and I've avoided the subjects ever since. A few times my friends or brother would strike up a converstaion with me about astronomy or philosophy because they're getting interested and they knew that I studied them, but I turn a cold shoulder on them and walk away so as to not feel ill.

    I hadn't realized how many issues I really have before trying to answer your questions. :) Please let me know any further insights you have. Thanks!

  4. #4

    Social Anxiety Attacks

    I think it would be helpful for you to discuss these symptoms with your doctor, or a psychologist or psychiatrist. I suspect that what you describe is a form of OCD primarily, with the social anxiety and panic attacks secondary to that. OCD symptoms almost always become more prominent under stress (emotional or physical).

    Medication will almost certainly help, as will psychotherapy with a specialist in anxiety disorders and OCD.

  5. Re: Social Anxiety Attacks

    i live in a small town, and have done so for most of life. we have only i major shopping centre which means i have no choice but to shop there. this shouldnt be a problem really should it? but for me.. it is. i can't even walk through there without feeling hot, flustered, embarrassed and on the verge of tears. all these paranoid thoughts run through my head and i feel like the whole place is looking down on me. i hate it, i don't want to feel like this anymore. i know it is irrational and probably weird but this is the way i feel everywhere i go, even simple things such as picking my daughter up from school are hard for me. my friends and family are starting to get annoyed at my behaviuor and i am sick of feeling this way.. is there anything u can let me know to get me through this. i don;t want to hideaway for the rest of my life.

  6. #6

    Re: Social Anxiety Attacks

    Ang, the combination of a skilled therapist and some medication can definitely help you with this problem. Unfortunately, this probably isn't something you're going to be able to overcome on your own. The difficulty is that experiencing anxiety or heightened self-consciousness leads to anticipatory anxiety the next time you go to that location or a similar one, creating a spiral where every time you have "an attack" it means you are a bit more likely to have another one next time. Breaking that cycle or spiral usually requires professional assistance.

    That said, anything you can do to reduce overall anxiety levels -- breathing, relaxation therapy, meditation, yoga, caffeine and nicotine reduction -- can help you to acquire a better sense of control over the symptoms.

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