Signs You Have Social Anxiety According To A Therapist
- 4 minute read
Many clients are surprised to learn they have a diagnosis of social anxiety. In fact, according to the NIMH, an incredible 18% of the population suffers from anxiety. Of those, 63% arent receiving treatment, and 34% of those arent receiving adequate treatment. Some sufferers assume they might only be shy, introverted or quiet others think they are awkward or lacking in social skills. Interestingly, women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men.
Here are 10 signs that what youre dealing with might be social anxiety, and not simply shyness:
1. You skip events you are interested in, only because you think you will feel awkward.
Salsa dancing sounds cool. But you cringe thinking about how stupid youll look doing it, so you dont go. Even if other people dont know how to dance either, you assume theyll look less silly than you. If an event involves any aspect of performing, youre even more scared to go.
2. Similarly, you might decide youre NOT really interested in events, because you think youll feel awkward.
This would be same as the person above, except you convince yourself salsa dancing is ridiculous in general. You know in your heart that you might find it fun, but you push that thought away and hide behind sarcasm or cynicism.
3. Whenever your appearance changes slightly, youre terrified to go out and see people.
4. You dont expect anyone to be friends with you.
5. You have a million excuses for why you dont date.
- 5 minute read
Monitor Your Heart To Detect Anxiety Or Atrial Fibrillation
The best way to truly understand whether anxiety causes a fast heart rate, or if a fast heart rate causes anxiety, is to monitor your heart.
A heart monitor records your heart rhythm day and night. Some automatically record all heart rhythms others require you to push a button when you feel heart symptoms. When you dont have symptoms, heart monitors may not provide the information needed for a diagnosis. For that reason, I have patients use them for two to four weeks to increase my chances of capturing the event.
Over the past two years, more people are using their smartphones to keep track of their activity and heart rate, but each device has limitations. What’s important, however, is your daily trend.
Your heart rate varies throughout the day by a few beats per minute up to 10 bpm, even when doing very little activity or experiencing infrequent stress. When exercising, the variation may be more pronounced and change more quickly, which allows us to quickly adapt to different situations and challenges. When you look at the daily trend, you will quickly find your normal. This normal will have the lowest heart rates at night, and then change predictably during the day while at work and rest, and during exercise.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
You can check what treatment and care is recommended for anxiety disorders on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website.
NICE produce guidelines for how health professionals should treat certain conditions. NICE only provide guidelines for:
- Generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder,
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder ,
- Post-traumatic stress disorder , and
- Social anxiety disorder.
The NHS does not have to follow these recommendations. But they should have a good reason for not following them.
We have described some of the treatments for anxiety disorders below. The treatments you will be offered depend upon the type of anxiety disorder you are experiencing.
You can find more information about treatments for:
Monitoring your symptomsSome anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder may get better by itself with no treatment at all. Or after education and advice from your doctor. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms to see if they improve. And they will talk to you about medications that you can get without a prescription. These are sometimes called over-the-counter medications.
Individual non-facilitated self helpThis involves working from a book or a computer program. You will be supported by a trained professional
Individual guided self-helpYou should:
Your learning should:
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What Kind Of Anxiety Disorder Do You Have
As with every health issue, an accurate diagnosis is essential. A few common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: A pattern of excessive worry about a variety of issues on most days for at least six months, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, a hammering heart, or dizziness.
- Social anxiety disorder: Feeling significant anxiety in social situations or when called on to perform in front of others, such as in public speaking.
- Phobias: A particular animal, insect, object, or situation causes substantial anxiety.
- Panic disorder: Panic attacks are sudden, intense episodes of heart-banging fear, breathlessness, and dread. Its the feeling youd have if you just missed being hit by a Mack truck but for people with panic disorder there is no Mack truck, says Dr. Beresin.
Are You Having An Anxiety Attack Or A Heart Attack
People who suffer from panic attacks often say their acute anxiety feels like a heart attack, as many of the symptoms can seem the same. Both conditions can be accompanied by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and even physical weakness or temporary paralysis.
Perhaps most powerful, though, is the sense of dread that overshadows both events. The fear itself can lead to an increase in these symptoms.
To learn more about living a heart-healthy lifestyle and what to do when anxiety feels like a heart attack, contact UPMCs Heart and Vascular Institute today.
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How To Tell The Difference Between A Heart Attack And A Panic Attack
The best way to tell the difference is to simply visit the doctor and have your heart tested. If your heart is in good health, it’s very unlikely you are suffering from a heart attack, especially if you have signs of anxiety. The good news is that there are plenty of easy tests to rule out any serious heart problems.
Beyond that, there are very minute differences in the symptoms. Examples include:
- Chest pain from anxiety tends to be more localized and sharp, while heart attacks radiate and are often duller.
- Panic attacks rarely cause vomiting – a somewhat common symptom of heart attacks, although not in all of those that experience one.
- Panic attacks tend to be more systematic. They generally peak about 10 minutes in and then there is a slow and steady decline. Heart attacks can follow this same pattern, but it’s less common.
Otherwise, the best thing to do is get your heart checked and learn whether or not you’re suffering from any heart problems. If not, then you’re experiencing anxiety attacks.
Your Anxiety Is Harming Your Physical Well
Occasional anxious thoughts may cause more mental stress than physical symptoms. However, if you have an anxiety disorder, you will likely experience physical symptoms that sap your energy and interfere with your daily functioning. These signs could include sleeping troubles, unexplained muscle aches and digestive issues.
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How To Detect Abnormal Heart Rhythm Patterns
Abnormal heart rhythms have three patterns, and the first is the easiest to figure out: You develop a sudden elevated heart rate with anxiety. Your device will show an abrupt heart rate acceleration, and when symptoms stop, the device should abruptly return to normal. This is usually shown as a spike in the graph of more than 30 to 40 bpm.
The second really depends on understanding your normal heart rate. In this pattern, the heart rate is exaggerated during rest or by an activity. If your heart rate while sleeping at night is typically 40 to 60 bpm, for example, but on a seemingly normal night it jumps to 70 to 90 bpm, you may have a form of an SVT called atrial tachycardia. In atrial tachycardia, the changing heart rate pattern is abnormal for you, it can last for longer periods of time, and it may occur without symptoms. The heart rate in atrial tachycardia is often more than 20 to 30 bpm faster than your normal heart rate would be for that same activity.
The last pattern is one in which the heart rate can vary dramatically from beat to beat this is seen in people with a very abnormal heart rate, such as atrial fibrillation. In some people, the heart rate is mildly elevated, while in others it may be more than 100 bpm. The smartphone graphs a chaotic, abnormal pattern with broad swings in the tracing from beat to beat. This same pattern can be seen in people with very frequent extra beats from the upper and lower heart chambers.
Where To Find Help For Anxiety
Whether youre already in recovery for an anxiety disorder or just want to have a better understanding of what its like to live with these conditions, Dr. Gould recommends checking out the following resources:
- Looking for a therapist or support group? You can search through resources like the Anxiety & Depression Association of America site, Psychology Today, Mental Health America, or Therapy for Black Girls. Check out SELFs guide on how to find an affordable therapist for various tips on navigating your mental health on a budget.
- In a mental health emergency, the National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you figure out what to do in a crisis. You can also call the confidential National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or start a chat here 24/7.
- For easy-to-understand educational resources, the National Institute of Mental Health is a good place to start.
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Identifying And Treating Anxiety In Children
Childhood anxiety can sometimes be missed because it often appears as difficult or bizarre behaviors that some may believe will simply be ‘outgrown.’ However, if any of these symptoms or behaviors persist, consult with a Psychologist who uses a Cognitive Behavioral approach in treating anxiety. As childhood anxiety can also be exhausting for you, the parent, be certain to gain support for yourself through a parent support group for children who suffer from anxiety. You could also consider psychological support to offer support and guidance as you work with your child towards decreased anxiety.
What A Mental Health Professional Looks For
Your mental health professional can diagnose you by evaluating your symptoms on specific criteria in the DSM-5, including whether:
- Youve experienced significant life changes recently
- Youve had anxiety and worry for at least six months
- Youve had trouble control your worries
- Your anxiety involves at least three of the most common symptoms of anxiety
- Your symptoms cause significant impairment in your everyday life
- Your symptoms are better explained by a different mental condition
Your mental health professional will work with you to uncover the root of your anxiety, make a diagnosis whether its generalized anxiety disorder or another anxiety disorder and find the best treatment for your unique symptoms.
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How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder
There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:
- Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
- Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
- Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
- Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.
What To Do About Your Anxiety Attacks
In some cases, a person has one anxiety attack and then they’re done. Often this occurs when a person is under extreme stress and the body loses its ability to cope. But many people develop panic disorder, which is characterized by recurrent anxiety attacks or a fear of anxiety attacks.
Remember, this disorder isn’t something someone can control. Many people think that rational thinking is all a person needs to get out of it, but anxiety attacks are much more like a disease. You need to find something effective to treat it, like cognitive behavioral therapy, rather than try to ride it out and hope that they go away.
That’s why if you do feel like you’ve had an anxiety attack or have anxiety attack problems, it’s important that you take action right away. The longer you wait, the harder they may be to cure and the more they affect your life.
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What Are The Most Common Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety is a natural, protective feelinga temporary response to an actual or perceived threat, and the symptoms of anxiety usually resolve once the threat has passed. Anxiety disorders, however, cause symptoms that are chronic and significant enough to interfere with someones ability to function at their usual capacity.
The symptoms that are most disruptive can vary depending on the person and their specific diagnosis, Neda Gould, Ph.D., associate director at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Anxiety Disorders Clinic, tells SELF. Examples could be excessive worry, panic attacks, or intrusive thoughts. She explains that these symptoms may indicate an anxiety disorder when they interfere with the persons day-to-day life.
Other mental and emotional symptoms may include:
- Intense worry and stress
- Difficulty concentrating
Chronic anxiety disorder symptoms are the result of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, being constantly released into the bloodstream. Thats why, for many people, anxiety can have physical effects too.
Anxiety has a purpose, and had an evolutionary purpose to protect you, says Dr. Gold. That physical response is what helps us escape the perceived threat, she says, but it becomes a problem when the body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode.
One of the most common symptoms is feeling restless or on edge, sort of like you cant calm down, Dr. Gold adds. Other milder physical symptoms may include:
The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.
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