From a teen in India: I fear strangers. I fear to survive. I fear that someone will interfere in my life and change its course badly. I fear that someone will be an obstacle to my life’s progress. To some extent I fear of getting killed or robbed. I know that this is not rational. It is an irrational fear, kind of phobia. Because of this I afraid to meet new people.
(Mostly people who are close to my age group.)
I fear going out.
I enjoy solitude.
I desperately need this state of mind to change.
Please help me.
Although I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter, I do think you and a counselor should explore whether social anxiety is your problem. People with social anxiety have an extreme fear of being watched or judged by others. That fear can make it difficult to do school work or a job or be in social situations. Being around people one doesn’t know can be so difficult that it’s hard to even want to leave the house.
You are right to think you may have a phobia. Social Anxiety is also called Social Phobia for good reason. It can make people phobic about almost any social contact.
People with Social Anxiety get so uncomfortable being around new people or being in new social situations that they even have physical symptoms. Often their heart rate increases. They may feel dizzy, lightheaded, and perspire. Muscles may tense up. Some people develop stomach problems or diarrhea. Some find it difficult to breathe or hyperventilate.
Social Anxiety is more common than you may know. Research suggests that about 7 percent of Americans are affected.The good news is that it is treatable. The first step is to see your medical doctor to make sure your symptoms aren’t caused by a medical problem. If you are medically fine, then it’s time to see a mental health counselor to be evaluated. If you do have social phobia, the counselor will usually suggest a combination of medicine a talk therapy. The medicine will give you some immediate relief and may bring your anxiety down a notch so that you can get more benefit from the psychotherapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be especially helpful for treating social anxiety disorder. CBT will teach you new ways to manage your anxiety and to cope with situations where you need to be around other people. Often it is helpful to participate in CBT in a group because you can then practice those new skills with the therapist there to coach you.
It’s not generally wise to depend on the medication alone. You don’t want to be dependent on medicine to get through life. Talk therapy will help you develop the skills you need to know so you can manage social situations for the rest of your life.
I wish you well,