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Social Anxiety Disorder
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Social anxiety disorder causes you to worry or be afraid in all or most social situations. Examples include meeting new people, going on a date, or speaking and performing in front of people. Social anxiety disorder is also called social phobia. Social anxiety disorder can cause problems with work, school, or other daily activities.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
- You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
- You have new symptoms since your last visit.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines help you feel more calm and relaxed, and decrease your symptoms.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Talk to someone about your anxiety. Your healthcare provider may suggest counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you understand and change how you react to events. It can also help you understand what triggers your symptoms. You might feel more comfortable talking with a friend or family member about your anxiety. Choose someone you know will be supportive and encouraging. You can also join a support group. A support group lets you talk with others who have social anxiety disorder.
- Find ways to relax. Activities such as yoga, meditation, or listening to music can help you relax. It may help to do these activities before a social event or speech.
- Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing can help you relax when you feel anxious. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths several times a day, or before a social situation. Slowly breathe in through your nose. Pause, then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Try to breathe out longer than you breathed in.
- Create a regular sleep routine. Regular sleep can help you feel calmer during the day. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Do not watch television or use the computer right before bed. Your room should be comfortable, dark, and quiet.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Healthy foods can help you feel less anxious and have more energy.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can increase your energy level. Exercise may also lift your mood and help you sleep better. Your healthcare provider can help you create an exercise plan.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Do not have caffeine. Caffeine can make your symptoms worse. Do not have foods or drinks that are meant to increase your energy level.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you. Also ask how much is safe. You may not be able to drink alcohol if you take certain anxiety or depression medicines.
- Do not use drugs. Drugs can make your anxiety worse. It can also make anxiety hard to manage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use drugs and want help to quit.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.