Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Seeking Treatments for Social Anxiety

04/10/2006

Question:

I`ve had social problems my entire life. When I was 16 I was diagnosed with social anxiety (as well as clinical depression and ADD) and started treatment for my problem. At first I refused to try any medication and focused on diet and lifestyle changes, when that yielded very minimal results, in fact my condition worsened, I opted to try medication. I have tried Lexapro, Celexa, and Zoloft, all of which gave me very minimal relief of my anxiety and left me feeling even more detached and confused than before. I have never really been content with my diagnoses and believe there is more to my condition. I was just wondering if there are any other disorders or conditions that share symptoms with social anxiety, depression, and ADD as well as these symptoms I have:

- I have an extremely hard time getting my needs and feelings across to another person face to face. My main problem with getting diagnoses and treatment is that I never tell "the whole truth" only bits and pieces of what I am having trouble with. Although I have no trouble with this if I try and write things down or discuss them over the internet. I get frustrated easily when I am trying to convey my needs to another person and tend to either verbally lash out at them or close up and refuse to get what I need if the social episode did not go as I had originally planned (as in if the other person asked too many questions, or offered to get me what I needed at a later time).

- I have never had many friends nor really wanted to have friends. I prefer to do things alone and keep everything to myself. As a child I wouldn`t play with the other kids on the playground, at least not directly. I would try to mimic what they were doing sometimes on the sidelines, but I would usually sit up against a fence or wall and daydream.

- I`m almost always in my own little world. I daydream alot. I seclude myself to my bedroom and play or listen to music and constantly block out the outside world. I get very very irritable if someone takes me out of this state.

- I had a really hard time in school. I`m extremely intelligent but academics did not interest me (except for Math and Science) and I would rarely put forth the effort to do the work or study. My grades in the subjects that did interest me, arts, math, and science, were not good either because I did not show up for school alot due to the fact that I had many panic attacks in the morning before school and during school, which at the time would bring on asthma attacks. So I took alot of time off. I tried college for a few semesters but didn`t finish a single class.

- I am lazy. I like to eat, sleep, daydream, play on the computer/internet, watch movies, and focus on my obsessions (music and music recording mainly) and I do not have time for anything productive. At this point in my life I am almost finished getting certification in audio recording/music production and I have a job at my school as an instructor and engineer. I can focus there and I`m happy there unlike my experiences in my pregrad public school experiences. The class sizes are very small and practically all social conversation is focused on my obsession. My only problem with this is that I use so much of my energy and focus on my career that when I get home I have no energy for my "normal" unproductive lifestyle. This would probably not be such a bad thing for most people, but for me it is agony. Once I am torn away from my obsession I feel very confused, empty, irritable, exhausted, and lost. Since I have started working (3 weeks ago) I have struggled alot with keeping up a healthy diet. My diet right now mainly consists of caffiene, nicotine, and sugar, which could leave any person feeling extremely edgy and exhausted. I`ve lost all ability to take care of myself. My personal hygiene at the moment is abominable (though its never been great to tell the truth) which is of course totally unhealthy and unprofessional. And my stress levels away from work are off the charts. I have constant panic attacks which I am having a harder and harder time controlling (I can usualy talk myself down from them before I start hyperventilating or really freaking out) and I am severely depressed and confused.

- I hate being touched unless it is a firm hug or handshake. I am extremely unaffectionate which is in stark contrast to how I was when I was a young child. According to my mother I was an overly affectionate child, on the border of being inappropriate.

- I have a hard time with making eye contact with people in social situations. I either make absolutely no eye contact or make extremely focused eye contact which has led people to tell me that i am making them feel uncomfortable.

- I have a very hard time finding words when I am talking with another person, even if they`re common words. Case in point: when I was in highschool and was to do a project with 2 classmates and we were discussion how we were going to go about getting information on our assignment I suggested that we "go to the, uh.... place with all the books" which my classmates realized was the library and corrected me. There have been many many instances of this with me. I also have a horrible time remembering names, but no problem remembering other personal information such as birthdates, and telephone numbers.

- I have an ongoing speech impediment. As a child I could not pronounce my r`s. And ever since I was a young child my accent has changed constantly. I am from the midwest United States, but my accent switches between (or encompasses a variety of) midwest, dixie, urban, a variety of UK, and Australian accents. I do not mean to do this, but alot of people point it out when I talk to them. I love accents, and I can mimic them on cue very well.

- I do not like to go out. I hate leaving the house, except for school and work. The one exception is going to pool halls and concerts. I love to play pool and I`m quite good at it and as long as I can focus on teh game the fact that I am out of my normal comfort zone does not affect me. The same goes for concerts where I can focus on the performance.

- I get easily oversensitized when it comes to white noise, music I don`t like, touch, smell, and lights. I cannot enter the store Sam`s Club without getting extremely sick and panicy from the smell of whatever cleaner they use there.

- I have an extremely addictive personality. I love comfort foods, cigarettes, caffiene, and games.

- I have a hard time keeping up a 2 way conversation. I have usually no interest in what the other person is saying and I tend to monopolize conversations, and interrupt. I tend to also be extremely apathetic towards other people.

- I have an odd sense of humor. I do not find alot of jke that other people find funny funny. and I tend to laugh at things that other people don`t which lead to very uncomfortable situations.

- I do not grieve as much as most people I know. Death or distaster does not really phase me much. I was more depressed about Hurricane Katrina because the extent of damage of a historical city than because of the death toll. I have been to many funerals in my life and have only cried at one, which was the funeral of a friend who was only a few years older than me. I grieve much more over animals than people. When I saw Moulin rouge with my family, at the end where the lead actress dies and the lead actor cries over her, my family were tearing up, and I was laughing hysterically because I thought the wailing sound the actor made was funny. When I watched Godzilla with my family, my family all seemed relieved at the end where Godzilla was killed, and I was bawling my eyes out because I still do not understand how killing Godzilla really solved anything. I "get over" the deaths of people very easily, but when I lost my dog this past December I was totally distraught and I am still very very upset over the loss.

There is really alot more. I`m just not "normal". I don`t fit in anywhere and never have. Alot of my behaviors and symptoms are either brought on from anxiety or bring on episodes of anxiety, so I thought this was the best place to ask about it. I`m 21 years old and female. If I could get any recommendations of what disorders I should look into or which type specialists to try and contact I would be very very grateful.

Answer:

To have these symptoms properly diagnosed, you will need to see a health professional. You may require a physical and psychological examination.

While anxiety and depression may be part of your problem, you should also be evaluated for psychiatric problems, including the possibility of a personality disorder or a bipolar disorder.  If you have not seen a psychiatrist, I would strongly encourage you to do so.  I am unable to diagnose over the internet.

Good luck.

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati