I really enjoy writing these self-evaluating posts on Sunday; they are as useful for my own growth as I hope they are for yours. Today’s topic is one that, yes, I have asked myself in the past…and do still occasionally. Fear can be paralyzing, especially if it doesn’t make sense. Let me explain.
During a rough stretch of years that involved emotional trauma and physical health issues, I developed what, in a clinical term, would be called social anxiety. Now, to what extent I had the condition, I don’t know because I never saw a doctor for it. Nevertheless, it was just as real to me. I was afraid to walk to my mailbox to get the mail in fear that one of my neighbors would see me and either judge me for what I was wearing or worse, they would want to talk to me. Understand something; Kellie Stone is a personable, social person. I have a sanguine temperament. In the world of personality evaluation, that means that my type is the most outgoing, people needing kind of person there is on the planet. Being with people energizes sanguines. So how could I have social anxiety?
The fact that I had been through a devastating financial crisis, lost my home, business, and everything that was familiar to me, made the extreme feelings of judgement come calling. Though I doubt anyone was truthfully thinking any of the things I imagined, still people were my enemies. In addition, I was suffering from clinical depression – a common prerequisite to social anxiety.
How Common Is Social Anxiety Disorder? “Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common mental disorder in the U.S., after depression and alcohol dependence. An estimated 19.2 million Americans have social anxiety disorder. The disorder most often surfaces in adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur at any time, including early childhood. It is more common in women than in men.” WebMD.com
In many cases, sufferers of social fears have had a history of constant criticism from those around them – a parent, sibling, boss or several people may have contributed to the extreme negative emotions. However, as in my situation, this wasn’t the case. I had a good self-esteem (for the most part) and I had never experienced abusive criticism. According to Web MD, another common cause is the imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin – the same one that can contribute to depression and other mental conditions.
When should you get help?
Every person is different, making it difficult to say “when” is the right time to seek professional help. I will say this; if you have constant feelings of fear that don’t allow you to lead a normal life, you should see your health care provider. During my bout of social fear, I was already being treated for depression and migraine. Because I saw a steady improvement of my anxiety issues, I didn’t feel I needed further treatment. My analyzing, find-the-culprit personality helped, as well. I never let up on telling myself that there was an answer to my problem. In time, the fear subsided because my attitude changed and the understanding of my mental mishap was in full bloom.
The reality is that “people” are not the problem (most of the time); it’s our own brain that goes haywire sometimes telling us that something is wrong. Just pay attention to what yours may be saying. If negative feelings interrupt your life for any length of time, think about getting the opinion of a pro. There is an answer. Be well-be beautiful.
***The content of this post is not intended to replace professional advice from your health care provider. Women’s Life Link, it’s authors, associates, commentators, or linked sites do not claim that any information will diagnose, treat, improve, or cure any disease or condition.
Photo by ChrystasRose