From Lithuania. Hello, I am a 21 year old student. I’ve been suffering from anxiety disorder, social phobia and have been taking antidepressants (escitalopram) for several years now (I had a small break,about a half year, but at the beginning of the first study year in other city my anxiety level very increased). I started to take drugs because of insomnia and high anxiety level. Time to time, I visit a psychiatrist. I had been taking cognitive behavioral therapy for over a year, but now I see that it haven’t really helped me. I still feel very anxious in various social situations, feel a lot of anxiety symptoms (body shakes, sweating, racing heart, breathlessness, etc). To make matters worse, I have found a boyfriend via internet. We have a relationships for about 5 months. He is 27 years old. He is a very good person and he really likes me. But it really hard for me to keep relationships, because I’m afraid of him. I’m afraid I will disappoint him in some way. When we meet (we do that quite rarely), I hardly can concentrate what he says, I feel very very anxious, nervous, I start sweating when he takes my hand or touch my body (we haven’t sex, and I’m virgin). I feel that something wrong with my hormones, because I just feel too much. Every date with him brings me more and more anxiety. He knows my situation, about my anxiety and stress, that I’m using drugs. He gave me some time to think what I would like to do next – to meet him again or just to stay friends, but nothing more. I feel I want to communicate with him, but it so hard and stressful, it’s hard to handle this. Maybe, it would be better decision to end relationships. But I know that this way won’t help me deal with social phobia, fear of boys and other issues. I am totally lost. Please help me to understand my complicated situation and messy thoughts. p.s. If you need to know, I had never been sexually abused. So it hard for me to understand why I have such a big fear of men. And I’m sorry for spelling mistakes, I’m from abroad.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
I admire your courage in continuing to cope with this anxiety. I would do two things to begin with, and two more to increase your chances of finding better ways to manage. The first thing I would do is talk to your boyfriend about your anxieties. I think the intimacy and support that may be helpful can be available in a relationship. I wouldn’t give it up.
Secondly, I would have a frank talk with your psychiatrist and your CBT therapist that the symptoms have not improved enough. The first course of action is often to use what has been tried — but in a different way.
That having been said, I would encourage you to find and join a therapy group that is focused on social anxiety. Being in a group that has other people with similar symptoms can give you the support, skills, and encouragement needed to make the right changes.
Lastly, if the cognitive therapy doesn’t work better within the next three months, I would encourage you to seek another therapist, perhaps one with psychodynamic training.
Wishing you patience and peace,