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

Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Anxiety in social situations

02/24/2009

Question:

Hello, I recently developed a problem with feeling like I am going to have a bout of diarrhea when I am in certain situations that I cannot control. This happens when I am in meetings at work or in the car driving with someone else driving. I am fine when I am by myself because I know that I have control of the situation. I am afraid that it is going to get so bad that I won`t put myself in these situations and it will start to control my life. I have no idea what has brought this on all of a sudden. I know there are medications for anxiety, but I think that they are taken on a daily basis. Is there any medication that I can take only when I know I have this type of situation coming up? I really don`t want to have to take something all the time.

Answer:

Social anxiety is a well known and common anxiety disorder.  It has be described as being "characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations."  While common physical symptoms include include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking, intestinal spasms that feel like diarrhea can also occur.

I encourage you to read more about social anxiety at the national Institutes of Mental Health web site:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/social-phobia-social-anxiety-disorder/index.shtml

There are several important steps for you right now.  First, I recommend a check up with your primary care doctor.  You want to make sure that all possible diagnoses are being considered.  Then you will likely want to work with a mental health counselor and get some therapy for the anxiety.  both medications and counseling are effective treatments, but both together are probably the most effective.

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