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generalized & social anxiety disorders

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"Although some consider social anxiety to be a trivial disorder, it is extremely common and its consequences can be devastating."
quote listed under "Note from Editor"

generalized anxiety disorder - learn about it here

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Self Growth.com
Overcoming Speaking Anxiety in Meetings & Presentations
By Lenny Laskowski, DTM & Professional Speaker

learn about social anxiety disorder here!
learn about generalized anxiety disorder here!


A. A marked & persistent fear of one or more social & performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.
The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that'll be humiliating or embarrassing. Note: In children, there must be evidence of the capacity for age-appropriate social relationships with familiar people & the anxiety must occur in peer settings, not just in interactions with adults.

B. Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or predisoposed Panic Attack. Note: In children, the anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or shrinking from social situations with unfamiliar people.

C. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Note: In children, this feature may be absent

D. The feared social or performance situation are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress

E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(S) interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there's marked distress about having the phobia.

F. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months

G. The feared or avoidance isn't due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition & isn't better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Panic Disorder With or Without Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or Schizoid Personality Disorder).

H. If a general medical condition or another mental disorder is present, the fear in Criterion A is unrelated to it, e.g., the fear isn't of Stuttering, trembling in Parkinson's disease, or exhibiting abnormal eating behavior in Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.

learn about social anxiety disorder here!
learn about generalized anxiety disorder here!

Does Social Anxiety Hold You Back?
By Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW
Jan 16, 2004

In the "Anxiety Disorders" section of the manual entitled "Diagnostic Criteria from DSM IV," which is used for the diagnosis of mental health conditions, there are 12 anxiety diagnoses covered.

The 5th & what may appear to be a soft diagnosis, is Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder). In contrast to "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder," "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" & "Panic Disorder" this diagnosis may seem to be lighter than the rest.

Please don't be fooled by names or the sound of names or even the fact that many of the others have achieved more press time. Social phobia is a very real threat to the quality of life for many individuals.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Glad you asked. Following is a list of life areas impacted by social anxiety -

1. Meeting new people

2. Answering the door

3. Interacting with merchant clerks at banks, grocery stores etc.

4. Setting appointments with doctor’s offices etc.

5. Attending church

6. Buying or returning items at retail outlets

7. Sick days where your anxiety has made you sick

8. Driving (Fear other drivers looking at or thinking of you)

9. Paying at the gas station

10. Eating in front of other people

11. Signing your name in front of others

12. Attending or hosting social events

13. Dating

14. Talking in a small or large group

15. Expressing your opinion

16. Performance situations, such as playing on an athletic team, singing in a choir etc.

17. May or may not have panic attacks

18. Fear of what others are thinking of you

19. Fear of being embarrassed or humiliated

learn about generalized anxiety disorder here!

Next is a general physical symptom list of the physical signs of social anxiety:

1. Blushing

2. Sweating

3. Dizziness

4. Heart palpitations

5. Muscle tension

6. Dry mouth

7. Shaking

8. Nausea

9. Diarrhea

10. Headache

These are a few of the symptoms of social anxiety as experienced in life areas & physically. Many folks have social anxiety but don't realize that this is what they struggle with. Oftentimes thinking about or engaging in any of the activities listed above will induce anxiety.

The real danger with this disorder is that it can subtly grow into a monster. Left unattended, social anxiety can reshape the life that you should be living into one that is centered around avoidance of anxiety. Some of you're aware that you have anxiety & fight with it constantly. Many others aren't aware of anxiety as the culprit, even though it's impacting all these life areas. That's powerful!

Ongoing social anxiety can result in developing a pattern of avoidance, whereby you begin putting off many of life's activities. Too often, you have only the best of excuses, but if you suffer from social anxiety, it's really anxiety driving your life's bus.

There are many keys in the overcoming of anxiety. At the top is bolstering your self-confidence. Ironically enough, the more withdrawn you become while feeing anxious & avoiding activities, the stronger the social anxiety becomes.

social anxiety disorder... learn about it here!


1. Participate in activities which increase esteem & a sense of personal safety

2. Establish an area of expertise or mastery & allowing those abilities to be present in anxiety situations

3. Learn relaxation strategies that become serenity-hygiene habits

4. Challenge irrational thought patterns that support the anxiety

5. Keep an anxiety scale journal to chart goals & progress

6. Seek a caring individual to hold you accountable to your goals

7. Know that peace & anxiety can't exist at the same time. Any ritual which brings peace into your life is a great tool to use to eliminate anxiety.

8. Practice knowing that you're loved & have a right to live a joy-filled life!

This is your life! If you find yourself angry over being anxious, that's GOOD - but only if you direct your anger at anxiety & allow it to become an energizer in your efforts to reclaim your life.

exploring the emotions & feelings....

learn about generalized anxiety disorder here!

May 7, 12:21 AM EDT

How to Cope With Immunization Anxiety


Anxiety Counseling
By Giri Anantha
Each person reacts differently to anxiety. Some people can go through great stress & not be held back by their anxiety. Others may not appear to be stressed & suddenly develop classic anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety counseling will be beneficial to those whose anxiety has reached a stage where it's difficult to function normally on a daily basis.

The anxiety you feel before a speech or when a loved one is in hospital is different from an anxiety disorder. With an anxiety disorder, you'll very likely have physical symptoms such as:
  • dizziness
  • rapid heart
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • insomnia 
  • breathlessness

to name a few.

Don't Let Your Anxiety Lead To Other Problems

Anxiety can also lead to panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder or even social phobia. It's best to get help as soon as you can before it reaches a stage where you end up with other problems.

Receiving counseling can be an effective way to help deal with your anxiety. Depending on you & your situation, there are different types of counseling.

For example, you can have face-to-face counseling, which generally is the best, counseling over the phone & even using the internet. They all have their good points.

Phone counseling is convenient if you don't wish or can't leave your home. If there's no mental health facility near you, this is a great alternative.

Internet Counseling Is Also Available For The Extremely Nervous
Some people are afraid to use the phone as well, particularly if you're nervous & have social anxiety as well. There are people who are afraid to speak to others 'in authority'.

They may be afraid of saying something 'silly' or always wondering what the other person is thinking about them. This makes it hard to concentrate & take things in.

These people can use the internet, either e-mail therapy or a 'live chat' function. So not to worry, there are options.

Eventually, it might be best to work towards face-to-face counseling. Again, this depends on you. If you make good progress with other methods & would rather leave it at that, then be happy with it.

Work closely with your therapist. By understanding you & your needs, they'll be able to give you the best anxiety counseling for your needs.

source: selfgrowth.com

emotions & feelings commonly experienced by those with social anxiety In the following excerpts from a study concerning why people with social anxiety don't get treatment, there is a direct correlation with certain emotions & feelings. The articles that follow will also display emotions & feelings - as well as - situational experiences that are commonly triggers for those with social anxiety.

"Almost 1 in 4 of the individuals with social anxiety reported that they had thoughts of committing suicide in the past month."
"Participants who had never previously received mental health treatment were asked to indicate why they hadn't sought such care. Uncertainty over where to go for treatment was the most commonly reported barrier."
"Individuals with social anxiety were especially likely to report a fear of what others might think or say, a lack of insurance, an inability to afford treatment & uncertainty over where to go for treatment as reasons they hadn't sought treatment in the past."
"In the multivariate model, having social anxiety was associated with a 2.8 times greater risk of being afraid of what others might think or say of seeking treatment." 
"Participants with social anxiety also often reported feelings of social isolation & pervasive anxiety-related interference in daily activities. The association of social anxiety with feelings of social isolation & with anxiety-related interference remained significant after controlling for other common anxiety & depressive symptoms." 
"Many participants chose not to seek treatment earlier because they believed they could handle their symptoms by themselves. The decision to seek treatment may occur only when symptoms become sufficiently severe, disruptive, serious, or unpredictable that the individual can no longer manage or control them without assistance. Self-appraisal of illness severity is widely believed to influence the decision of whether to continue coping without assistance or to seek professional help."
"A fear of what others might think or say also frequently inhibited treatment seeking, particularly among participants with social anxiety. Socially anxious people are often ashamed of their symptoms & embarrassed to discuss them with friends or health care professionals. It's ironic that the very symptoms socially anxious individuals seek to relieve may interfere with their ability to seek treatment."
"An inability to afford treatment, an uncertainty over where to go for treatment, a fear of what others might think or say & problems with clinical detection of social phobia each appear to play a role."   

  • uncertainty
  • embarrassment
  • soically isolated
  • fearful
  • ashamed
  • anxious
  • afraid
  • in control sometimes
  • out of control sometimes

exploring the emotions & feelings....

one way to deal with uncertainty...
(click on the underlined link word, "uncertainty" anywhere on this page to visit your unemotional side - "the uncertainty page!" for more info!)
Conquering an Uncertain World Thru Spiritual Growth
By Anne Wolski
The modern world is defined by power, money & influence. This means that the task of growing spiritually is particularly difficult. In this world, we have predisposed ourselves to confine our attentions to our physical comforts, both real & perceived, thus allowing our concept of self-worth & self-meaning can become confused.
So, how can we strike a balance between the material & spiritual aspects of our lives?

Looking inward for spiritual growth

To grow spiritually, one has to become introspective. This doesn’t only mean remembering the things that happened in recent times. It means reflecting on thoughts, feelings, beliefs & the things that have motivated you.
Occasionally, you need to examine your experiences, your relationships, your decisions & so forth in order to gain useful insight into your goals as well as on your good & bad traits.
This insight allows you to sustain your good traits & discard the bad in order to allow your spiritual growth. Moreover, it gives you clues on how to act, react & conduct yourself in the midst of any situation.

Anyone can learn the art of introspection as long as you have the courage & willingness to seek the truths that lie within you. Here are some tips when you introspect: be objective, be forgiving of yourself & focus on your areas for improvement.

Developing your potential thru spiritual growth

Religion & science have differing views on matters of the human spirit. Religion views people as spiritual beings temporarily living on Earth, while science views the spirit as just one dimension of an individual.
Mastery of the self is a recurring theme in both Christian (Western) & Islamic (Eastern) teachings. The needs of the body are recognized but placed under the needs of the spirit. Beliefs, values, morality, rules, experiences & good works provide the blueprint to ensure the growth of the spiritual being.
In Psychology, realizing one’s full potential is to self-actualize. Maslow identified several human needs: physiological, security, belongingness, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization & self-transcendence.
James earlier categorized these needs into 3: material, emotional & spiritual. When you've satisfied the basic physiological & emotional needs, spiritual or existential needs come next.
Achieving each need leads to the total development of the individual. Perhaps the difference between these two religions & psychology is the end of self-development: Christianity & Islam see that self-development is a means toward serving God, while psychology views that self-development is an end by itself.

Finding meaning by spiritual growth

Religioms that believe in the existence of God such as Christianity, Judaism & Islam suppose that the purpose of the human life is to serve the Creator of all things. Several theories in psychology propose that we ultimately give meaning to our lives. Whether we believe that life’s meaning is pre-determined or self-directed, to grow in spirit is to realize that we don't merely exist.
We don't know the meaning of our lives at birth; but we gain knowledge & wisdom from our interactions with people & from our actions & reactions to the situations we're in. As we discover this meaning, there are certain beliefs & values that we reject & affirm.
Our lives have purpose. This purpose puts all our physical, emotional & intellectual potentials into use; sustains us during trying times & gives us something to look forward to - a goal to achieve, a destination to reach. A person without purpose or meaning is like a drifting ship at sea.

To grow spiritually is to recognize interconnections.

Religions stress the concept of our relatedness to all creation, live & inanimate. Thus we call other people “brothers & sisters” even if there are no direct blood relations.
Moreover, deity-centered religions such as Christianity & Islam speak of the relationship between humans & a higher being. On the other hand, science expounds on our link to other living things thru the evolution theory. This relatedness is clearly seen in the concept of ecology, the interaction between living & non-living things.
In psychology, connectedness is a characteristic of self-transcendence, the highest human need according to Maslow. Recognizing your connection to all things makes you more humble & respectful of people, animals, plants & things in nature.
It makes you appreciate everything around you. It moves you to go beyond your comfort zone & reach out to other people & become stewards of all other things around you.

Growth is a process thus to grow in spirit is a day-to-day encounter. We win some, we lose some, but the important thing is that we learn & from this knowledge, further spiritual growth is made possible.
don't forget, more info concerning uncertainty at your unemotional side's "uncertainty page!"

1. observation or examination of one's own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself.

dealing with the embarrassment of social anxiety in the workplace... here's a starting ground for learning more about embarrassment with social anxiety, but if you need to learn more about feeling embarrassed - click the underlined link word above to go to feeling emotional, too & it's "embarrassed page!"
Don't Let Social Anxiety Disorder Ruin Your Career
By Abigail Franks
Social anxiety disorder is a disorder that's based on excessive self-consciousness. This can manifest itself in a feeling of fear or dread of public situations like a doing a business presentation are speaking up in a meeting. The symptoms of social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, are very broad & can affect people in a variety of ways.
your dictionary definition of:
verb (used with object)
1. to fear greatly; be in extreme apprehension of: to dread death.
2. to be reluctant to do, meet, or experience: I dread going to big parties.
3. Archaic. to hold in respectful awe.
–verb (used without object)
4. to be in great fear.
5. terror or apprehension as to something in the future; great fear.
6. a person or thing dreaded.

Some may be fine in public places like shopping, the supermarket or a mall but be very self-conscious if they need to interact with anyone. Social phobia is identified as having a persistent or chronic fear of doing or saying something that might be judged harshly & could result in embarrassment or humiliation.
In more severe cases, this fear can keep someone from the human to human interaction necessary to advance one's career, or even be successful in many school are educational situations.

It's no secret that one of the best ways of moving up the corporate ladder is to make yourself visible to those in management above you. The most common way to gain this visibility is by volunteering for higher profile projects & assignments. This offers the opportunity to deliver regular reports to upper management & demonstrate not only project management skills but team leadership as well.

To the person suffering with social phobia however, the option to volunteer for a high profile project or assignment is simply not possible. While they may be mentally up to the challenge & possibly even the best person for the job, a social phobic can limit themselves by the need to remain out of the spotlight.
This in turn, severely limits their visibility to management & can also limit career advancement potential.

Social Phobia Treatments

The good news is that there are many treatment options available to help control social phobias. The most successful treatment has been a combination of psychotherapy & medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in treating many social anxiety disorders.
This therapy focuses on control of a person's own thoughts & how they react or behave in relation to that thought process. This allows someone suffering with social phobia to move past the fear & anxiety & be able to continue on with their lives.
This doesn't mean that they're cured, only that the social phobia monster has been faced & controlled for a given situation.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT works to gradually deal with situations that are increasingly more fearful or complex. This offers the sufferer a way to develop the confidence to face situations & deal with the anxiety.

"Those with social anxiety either avoid these situations or endure them but with a lot of dread & discomfort."

"There are 2 basic forms of social anxiety disorder. There's the generalized form of social anxiety disorder, where people are fearful of most social situations; this can involve, i.e., being on a job interview, meeting new people, eating in a restaurant, going on a date, or speaking up in class.

During those situations, the person feels like he or she's being judged or evaluated & is fearful of being humiliated or embarrassed or that people will recognize his or her anxiety. So, the person self-monitors symptoms of anxiety, such as tremor, rapid heart rate, sweating, mind going blank, knees getting wobbly & upset stomach."

"In fact, the physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder can look identical to a panic attack, but the symptoms occur only in situations where there's some kind of social provocation or where the person thinks that he or she may be embarrassed or humiliated, that people may be sort of observing them or may even reject them."

"There's a second subtype or form of social anxiety disorder called discrete or performance anxiety. These people don't have anxiety in most social situations but only in a performance situation, such as, i.e., public speaking, musicians who have to perform, etc.

There again, people feel like they're being evaluated or judged so they can have physical symptoms such as a panic attack, but it's only in these performance situations & it's not in all different kinds of social situations."

"There are a couple of interesting aspects of social anxiety disorder, including that it has a very early onset. Everyone who develops social anxiety disorder had a particular temperament as a child – namely, somewhat behaviorally inhibited & shy. It turns out that most children who are behaviorally inhibited & shy don't develop social anxiety disorder, only a subgroup do.

But all people who have social anxiety disorder start early on by being shy & inhibited & then a subgroup of those individuals develop the generalized form of social anxiety disorder & a subgroup of those individuals develop avoidant-personality disorder, where they pretty much end up avoiding most social situations."

"People with social anxiety disorder are exquisitely sensitive to social cues, such as, i.e., another person's glance or look in their direction or, in particular, faces looking directly toward the individual."

"Also, there's a positive feedback loop for those with social anxiety. The person makes some logical errors by thinking, "Everybody is paying attention to me, everybody can see that I'm anxious," which leads to hypervigilance, where the person monitors the physiologic reactions to anxiety, increasing feelings of anxiety along with its physiologic reactions & so on – a vicious cycle."

thoughts: everyone is paying attention to me
  • avoidance
  • embarrassed
  • inhibited
  • fearful
  • shy
  • rejected
  • anxious
  • sensitive
  • humiliated
  • judged
  • anxious

Physical symptoms triggered by social anxiety disorder:

  • symptoms of anxiety, such as tremor
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • mind going blank
  • knees getting wobbly 
  • upset stomach

Situations of discomfort or dread for social anxiety sufferers:

  • public speaking
  • job interviewb
  • meeting new people
  • eating in a restaurant
  • going on a date
  • speaking up in class
  • performance situations, such as public speaking
  • musicians who have to perform 
  • social cues, i.e., another person's glance or look in their direction 
  • in particular, faces looking directly toward the individual

exploring the emotions & feelings....

Real Solutions For Combatting Extreme Shyness
By Royane Real
Most people experience some degree of shyness from time to time in certain situations. In fact, only about 7% of the population claims that they never feel shy. For the rest of us, shyness can range from being an occasional, minor inconvenience, to being a major problem.

Some people however, are afflicted with a degree of shyness so severe that it's almost disabling. This type of acute shyness isn't only very painful to experience, but it can have devastating effects on a person’s social life, happiness & career.

Severe shyness is a complex mix of biology, upbringing, traumatic experiences & negative self-talk. Severe shyness can co-exist with other debilitating psychological conditions such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, depression & anxiety.

Extreme shyness can take many forms & can show up differently in different people. Some very shy people have problems being in large gatherings, yet feel comfortable in small groups. Some shy people only feel acute discomfort with persons they've just met, while others are never comfortable around people, even those they have known a long time.

Psychiatrists & psychologists use the term “social anxiety disorder (SAD)” to describe extremely debilitating shyness. There isn’t complete agreement about whether severe, disabling social anxiety disorder is simply a more severe type of shyness, or whether it's another type of disorder altogether.

Some very shy people are able to overcome their fears by learning social skills & practicing them frequently in social situations. Many also find it useful to gain some measure of control over their uncomfortable physical reactions such as sweating & trembling, by using special relaxation techniques & bio-feedback training.

Many very shy people deal with their extreme anxiety by simply avoiding any social situations that might trigger their discomfort. This may mean turning down invitations to parties & other social events, crossing the street in order to avoid running into someone they know & even turning down promotions at work.

Although avoiding the feared situation may seem to the shy person like the perfect solution, it actually makes the problem worse in the long run. Every time a shy person chooses to avoid social interaction, he reinforces in his mind how much he fears dealing with other people. By choosing the short-term benefit of avoiding his anxious feelings, he reinforces the power that his fear holds over him

Psychologists who specialize in the treatment of shyness disorders have discovered that avoiding social situations can actually make the problem worse. Many psychologists who treat people aflicted by shyness recommend a program of repeated & gradually increasing exposure to the feared situation, combined with helping the client learn new ways of thinking.

Various psychological therapies have been used to treat extreme shyness, most of them with limited success. The most successful approaches use some variation of cognitive therapy, or behavioral therapy, or both of these, combined with graduated & increasing exposure to the feared situation.

In cognitive therapy, the patient is taught to notice the thoughts he's thinking while he is in the feared situation. The client learns to challenge his thoughts to see if they fit reality. If these thoughts don't match the reality, the client is taught to substitute more realistic thoughts in their place.

Behavioral therapy aims to change the client’s behavior using a program of positive reinforcement of the desired behavior & negative reinforcement of the undesired behavior.

Both cognitive therapy & behavior therapy focus on teaching the client to deal with situations & symptoms in the present. Neither form of therapy delves into situations in the client’s distant past. Those forms of psychotherapy that attempt to deal with shyness by delving into the client’s past history haven't been shown to be effective
in cognitive therapy techniques.

There are many books that can teach the reader to effectively use cognitive therapy techniques for both depression & loneliness. If your case isn't particularly severe, you can often learn enough from reading a book & doing the recommended exercises to greatly relieve your symptoms of shyness or depression.
Dr. David Burns, one of the pioneers in bringing cognitive therapy to a wider audience, has written several very useful books & workbooks for the general public, including “Intimate Connections” & “Feeling Good - the New Mood Therapy.”

In the past decade, researchers have discovered that some anti-depressant medications, particularly the so-called SSRI’s (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), can also be very helpful in the treatment of extreme shyness. One of these SSRI drugs, Paxil, was the first to receive American F.D.A. approval as an effective treatment for social anxiety.
In fact, ads for Paxil as a treatment for social anxiety have been marketed directly to the public, not just to doctors. Other anti-depressant drugs in the SSRI group are also believed to help in reliving social anxiety.

Does drug treatment for shyness really work? Some very socially anxious people have tried everything that regular psychotherapy has to offer, including cognitive therapy, yet they still suffer debilitating symptoms of shyness until they try SSRI drugs.
In some cases, the improvement in sociability after taking SSRI drugs can be swift & profound. This class of drugs seems to help the socially anxious person turn down the excessive volume of their inner judgmental thoughts.

If you're shy or socially anxious, should you take a pill to make you more friendly? There are pros & cons to be considered when deciding whether or not to take a drug for social anxiety. The SSRI drugs can cause nervous agitation, insomnia, weight gain & sexual dysfunction, as well as many other less common side effects.

Some doctors & psychologists are concerned that a normal human trait, shyness, has been declared a medical condition requiring expensive pharmaceutical intervention. Because the SSRI drugs are relatively new, it isn't yet known what the long-term effects of this class of drugs may be.
Nevertheless, the SSRI drugs are very widely prescribed, particularly in North America, for depression & social anxiety.

The difference in shyness experienced with drug therapy can be quite astounding, but it'll likely last only as long as the drug is taken on a regular basis. When the drug is discontinued, the symptoms of shyness will likely reappear. With the proper psychotherapy for shyness, the positive results are likely to be long lasting.

In most locations it's easier to find a doctor who'll prescribe SSRI medication to combat shyness than it is to find a counselor trained in the use of therapy effective in treating shyness disorders.

This article is an excerpt from the new downloadable book by Royane Real titled “Your Guide to Finding Friends, Making Friends, and Keeping Friends” available at

Anxiety - Understanding & Treating The Condition
By Michele Carelse
Understanding & Treating Anxiety

Most people suffer from anxiety at some stage of their lives. Anxiety is usually a relatively natural response to a situation which appears threatening or one to which we aren'
t accustomed.
So, i.e., people are sometimes quite naturally anxious about passing tests, going for job interviews, or even speaking in public. They may experience 'butterflies' in their stomachs, sweaty palms, restlessness, insomnia, or even slight dizziness. This usually goes away after the actual event has passed or once they have become used to it.
The person who is terrified of their first public speech may become so accustomed to public speaking after awhile that she doesn't give it a 2nd thought!

1. Diagnosis of Anxiety Disorders

When anxiety becomes so chronic or intense that it affects the person's day to day functioning & hampers performance, we'll usually diagnose an Anxiety Disorder.
Some people have what's called a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This means that their anxiety doesn't have a specific focus like, i.e., a phobia, but is more 'free floating' & forms part of their everyday functioning & response to life.
Symptoms of GAD include:
  •  motor tension (edginess, jumpiness, trembling, restlessness, twitching, muscle aches, easily startled, furrowed brow, inability to relax)
  • autonomic activity (sweating, heart palpitations, dry mouth, dizziness, tingling in hands & feet, upset stomach, shortness of breath, frequent urination)
  • apprehensive expectation (anxiety, fear, worry & persistent thoughts of potential misfortune)
  • vigilance & scanning (constantly on the alert for danger, failure or disaster, resulting in difficulties in concentration, irritability, impotence & insomnia)

GAD is diagnosed if these symptoms have been present continuously for more than one month.

Other sufferers of anxiety are diagnosed with Panic Disorder, Phobic Disorders, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

A Panic Disorder will be diagnosed if there are at least 3 panic attacks within a 3 week period in reaction to situations that aren't life threatening & which aren't associated with physical exertion.

Symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath or choking sensations
  • heart palpitations
  • chest pain
  • dizziness or faintness
  • tingling in hands or feet
  • hot & cold flashes
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • fear of dying or heart attack
  • a feeling of unreality or danger click here

Phobic Disorders include a persistent fear & compelling desire to avoid an object or situation to the extent that the person's life, functioning & relationships are significantly impaired.

Examples of phobic events include Social Phobia (fear of embarrassment in social situations) & Agoraphobia (fear of public places), fear of heights, flying, etc.

Phobic objects may include anything from animals & insects to numbers or colors.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may take the form of excessive & intrusive obsessive thoughts, images or impulses that are almost impossible to ignore or stop, even if the individual understands that they're senseless or unfounded.

The disorder may also include repetitive & often purposeless behaviors that are often performed according to certain rules & which are sometimes believed to prevent or produce some future situation or event. The person doesn't find the activity pleasurable but does experience a sense of relief from tension when performing it. The obsessive thoughts, behaviors or impulses usually interfere significantly with functioning.

2. Causes of Anxiety Disorders

There are many different theories about the causes of anxiety disorders. Some theories say that they're genetic & are purely chemical in nature. There's some evidence for this, as anxiety disorders very often tend to run in families, even when children have been adopted at birth & never meet their biological parents.

Other theorists say that extreme anxiety is learnt from an overly anxious parent or that it originates from some trauma during early childhood or from overly punitive parenting. It's very likely that there's usually a combination of these potential causes & each case must be viewed as a unique one & well investigated before any pronouncements are made about the causes.

3. Differential Diagnosis

When we speak about differential diagnosis, we speak about ruling out the possibility that the anxiety symptoms may be caused by something other than an Anxiety Disorder.

Anybody who experiences clusters of symptoms similar to those discussed above should always have a thorough medical examination. Symptoms similar to those above may be attributable to thyroid problems, heart problems (particularly mitral valve), reactions to certain prescription or recreational drugs & even ear infections or allergies.

If these are ruled out, the likelihood is that the person is suffering from an anxiety disorder. It makes little sense to keep treating someone for anxiety when that isn't the real problem & it's surprising how often that actually happens!

4. Treatment

Different therapists treat anxiety in different ways & this depends largely on their particular training, experience & outlook. Also some clients respond better to one form of treatment than others & it's important for the therapist to do a thorough assessment & get to know his client before deciding on treatment.

Some therapists treat their clients with prescription drugs like anxiolytics, beta blockers, or even antidepressants. This means that they're treating the symptoms of the anxiety. Anxiety symptoms or OCD can often be successfully controlled by the careful use of prescription drugs.

Unfortunately many of them can be addictive or produce side effects & the person often builds up a tolerance to them, needing to take more & more to achieve a similar effect. Another criticism is that no attention is paid to the causes of the anxiety or to helping the person learn ways of controlling or managing the anxiety without drugs.

Many therapists use techniques like progressive relaxation or meditation to help the client learn how to access his own calming response (everybody has one!) & to lower anxiety levels to more comfortable states.

This is often combined with psychotherapy to help improve self-esteem & understand the causes of the anxiety, cognitive therapy to 'reprogram' the negative thoughts underlying the anxiety, or desensitization aimed at eliminating phobias.

There are also many natural products which help & may be used alone or in combination with therapy. It's usually best to speak to your pharmacist, health store owner, or health care professional to find out what's best for you & how to take it, but some common herbs are:

  • Passiflora
  • Pasque Flower
  • St John's Wort
  • Melissa
  • Chamomile 
  • Kava Kava

For more information go to http://www.nativeremedies.com/

It's important to note that most anxiety disorders respond well to treatment & I'd encourage anyone who suffers from anxiety to go for help. It can make all the difference to your life!

5. Self Help

There are many things that will help with anxiety.

If you're experiencing stress at work, in your relationships or anywhere else, look & see what changes need to be made. Get help if you feel you're unable to do this yourself.

Regular exercise is one of the most beneficial things one can do & has been shown to have a significant effect on lowering anxiety symptoms & improving well being. At least 45 minutes 3 - 5 times a week will make all the difference!

Make sure that you eat regularly to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar level & have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night! Sleep deprivation can cause symptoms of anxiety.

Avoid stimulants like coffee, tea (except herbal teas), sugary foods, chocolate or carbonated drinks, particularly the cola variety. People who suffer from anxiety, who are at greater risk for dependence, should never take alcohol & most recreational drugs. These substances can also worsen the anxiety symptoms.

Include oats, bananas, avocado pears, whole-wheat pasta, bread & brown rice in your diet.

Set aside at least 15 minutes twice a day to sit in a quiet spot, close your eyes & practice deep breathing. Listen to soothing music or a relaxation tape or CD.

If there's something specific that is causing anxiety (like shyness or fear of animals) see if you can't gradually become accustomed to it, little by little. This will also improve your confidence & self esteem.

Talk to people about how you feel! Try & socialize, start a hobby, take up a sport or develop new interests! Perhaps think about offering your services as a volunteer to help others. Anything which takes your mind off yourself & keeps you interested will help!

6. Conclusion

As we've discussed, anxiety can take many different forms & can be treated in many different ways. There are also many things which one can do oneself to control or significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Most of these take some work & persistence, but then so does an Anxiety Disorder!

Believe in yourself & spend time getting to know what works for you & then persevere with it. You'll be surprised how much you can help yourself.

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is an intense fear of social situations. This fear arises when the individual believes that they may be judged, scrutinized or humiliated by others.
The anxiety can be specific to one social situation or can be more general in nature. Feelings of fear, shame & embarrassment are common. It shouldn't be confused with being shy or shyness.

Common anxiety provoking social situations include:
  • talking with people in authority
  • dating & developing close relationships
  • making a phone call or answering the phone
  • interviewing
  • attending & participating in class
  • speaking with strangers
  • meeting new people
  • eating, drinking, or writing in public
  • using public bathrooms
  • driving
  • shopping

Physical symptoms that may occur during, or in anticipation of, the situation include:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • sweating
  • muscle tension
  • upset stomach
  • trembling
  • shaky voice
  • dry mouth
  • blushing
  • queasiness
  • ticks
  • hyper ventilation
  • difficulty making eye contact
In extreme cases this intense uneasiness can progress into a full blown panic attack. The victim may experience shortness of breath, heart palpitations, numbness in hands & feet, or even a sense of being outside of ones own body.

The level of mental & physical discomfort is so strong that individuals often change their lifestyle to avoid being exposed to the situation.
Changes that may result include:

Social anxiety disorder may be associated with other psychiatric disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder & depression.

source: Social Anxiety Support

social anxiety disorder & the brain....
what's up doc?
"There are also certain basic brain circuits that seem to get either activated or hijacked, which is associated with social anxiety disorder, in particular, marked activation of limbic regions such as the amygdala & a failure of frontal regions to give a logical or appropriate assessment of what the realistic harm is. So, in a sense, this is an imbalance between the amygdala & frontal regions."
"People with social anxiety disorder are exquisitely sensitive to social cues, such as, i.e., another person's glance or look in their direction or, in particular, faces looking directly toward the individual.
These simple types of provocations can elicit an exaggerated response of the amygdala than can lead to a fight-or-flight response where the person feels like he or she needs to flee the situation or completely freezes."
"The outputs from the amygdala in such a case can be associated with all of the physiologic sensations of social anxiety disorder – racing heartbeat, sweating, gastrointestinal-type problems such as diarrhea & tremor; it can even cause the mind to go blank, namely, an adrenaline-like response."

thoughts: need to flee because of exaggerated fight or flight response
  • avoidance
  • embarrassed
  • inhibited
  • fearful
  • shy
  • rejected
  • anxious
  • sensitive
  • humiliated
  • judged
  • anxious
  • shame

Physical symptoms triggered by social anxiety disorder:

  • racing heartbeat
  • sweating
  • gastrointestinal-type problems such as diarrhea
  • tremor
  • it can even cause the mind to go blank
  • an adrenaline-like response

Situations of discomfort or dread for social anxiety sufferers:

  • in particular, faces looking directly toward the individual

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