I haven’t been feeling well lately so it’s taken longer for me to gather my thoughts and put things in a comprehensive way. I’m coming down from a manic episode and it isn’t exactly fun. I was ready to go on adventures and do new things, but now I feel fear, guilt, and hopelessness. Without having an actual human to talk to on a regular basis I’ve become worse. I was told this would happen and told myself I would be fine. I was wrong.
1 IN 25 ADULTS IN AMERICA LIVE WITH A SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS.
Anxiety Disorders: 21.3 %
Major Depression: 6.9 %
Bipolar Disorder: 2.6 %
Schizophrenia: 1.1 %
ANXIETY DISORDERS: Disorders that share features of excessive fear and anxiety.
- Generalized Anxiety- Persistent, uncontrollable and ongoing apprehension about a wide range of life situations. The cause can’t be pinpointed.
- Social Anxiety- Anxiety Disorder involving strong irrational fears relating to social situations. (I’ve been diagnosed with this by several Doctors when I was younger but not by my current Psychiatrist)
- Panic Disorder- Sudden episodes of extreme anxiety and panic attacks.
- Specific Phobias: A strong irrational fear of specific objects or situations that are normally considered harmless.
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is when you have excessive unrealistic anxiety and worry about several events or issues.
Onset of GAD is usually before 20 years of age with a history of childhood fears and social inhibitions.
DSM V Criteria states at least 3 psychological or physiological symptoms lasting at least 6 months, interfering with a person’s ability to function is needed for a diagnosis.
Some of these symptoms are impaired concentration, restlessness and muscle tension. Coexisting disorders can be Major Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse.
SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER (SOCIAL PHOBIA)
Social Anxiety Disorder is a persistent fear of 1 or more social situations where the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny/humiliation. Exposure to the feared situation leads to anxiety, avoidance, or enduring the situation with extreme distress. This interferes significantly with a person’s normal routine, social activities and work.
Social Anxiety usually has an early age of onset (13) and a high connection with other anxiety disorders and depression.
Risk Factors: Childhood bullying, childhood neglect/abuse or Maternal overprotection.
Affective Symptoms: Unreasonable levels of fear, automatic negative emotional cycles, sadness and insecurity.
Behavioral: Trembling, crying, physical withdrawal from social situations, over analyzing a social situation looking for flaws, staying quiet.
Cognitive: Negative self image, paranoia and low self esteem.
CRITERIONS FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
- A marked fear or anxiety about 1 or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Example: Being observed by others/Performing in front of others/Social interactions
- Fear that he/she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated (humiliated or rejected by others)
- Social situations always provoke fear/anxiety.
- Social situations are avoided or endured with intense fear/anxiety.
- Fear/anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation.
- Fear/anxiety/avoidance is persistent, lasting 6 months or more.
- Fear/anxiety/avoidance causes clinically significant distress/impairment in social/occupational or other important areas of functioning.
- Fear/anxiety/avoidance isn’t attributed to the Physiological effects of a substance or other medical condition.
- Fear/anxiety/avoidance is not explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder such as Panic Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- If another medical condition is present the fear/anxiety/avoidance is clearly unrelated or is excessive.
PSYCH FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
- Negative self-appraisals
- Post event rumination/scrutiny
- Elevated social cost estimate (If they act in an unacceptable way it will result in disastrous consequences like rejection or loss of social status.
- Fear of evaluation whether it’s positive or negative.
People with Social Anxiety Disorder also feel socially incompetent (boring or dumb) they also worry about physical appearance often feeling ugly or unfashionable or not as good as everyone else.
Social Anxiety Disorder has the lowest overall remission rate of all Anxiety Disorders.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER
Social Anxiety started very young with me and was severe. I had a difficult time with Birthday parties, cookouts, school, any large gathering. I did my best to hide or avoid them but I couldn’t avoid school. Throwing up/dry heaving daily before you are forced to go to school is not healthy. I sometimes wonder if they had allowed my twin and I to be in some of the same classes if things might have been different.
Where I live twins were not allowed to have any classes together beginning in Kindergarten and ending in the 12th grade. Being separated from a person you’re so close to at such an early age and thrown in with strangers without her support was terrifying. I believe it also played a part in our drifting apart to the point we no longer spoke and she no longer acknowledged me.
There were times I couldn’t go to a gas station alone, there would be months where I did everything I could not to leave the house. I was happy to watch movies in my room and read books. If it wasn’t for my best friend W I would’ve rotted away in my room. She forced me to do things. Unfortunately at this time alcohol came in to the picture. None of the Doctors I had seen ever gave me medication for anxiety. I had an ulcer at 16 that by 18 was pretty bad. They didn’t mind giving me a year’s worth of Paxil all at once but nothing fast acting for the extreme anxiety. Paxil was horrendous for me. The weight gain of 50 pounds alone was enough to make me feel worse.
I don’t understand how several Doctors could diagnose me with Social Anxiety Disorder (Phobia) but never prescribe me medication or specific therapy for it. It’s still a huge problem for me. The lump in my throat and the butterflies in my stomach I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s no way to live your life, constantly feeling a fear of living life that holds you back from doing the things you want to do before time runs out.