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This is kind of related to the how do you explain your behavior to others thread, but I didn't want to derail it.

 

How do you explain the difference between social anxiety disorder and "normal anxious responses around people?"  People sometimes suggest I have the latter, but it's not that.  I have a hard time putting words into why it's not that, though.  Anyone have suggestions?  Something like "social anxiety disorder is ________________________________________, not ___________________________________________?"

 

Or just examples of social anxiety generally?

Edited by dancesintherain
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It's normal anxious responses around people x 1000. I think that mental health problems generally are just something way up there on the scale and far away from whatever level is considered 'normal'. I've heard "You're just a bit shy" and "You'll come out of your shell eventually". It's like how depression isn't just 'normal sadness' I guess. Nothing wrong with being shy or anxious around people, or feeling sad, up to a point. It's that normal thing but much worse.

I guess in my case it's not worrying about whether they'll like me or if I'll belong, since I've already convinced myself that nobody will like me and I don't belong anywhere. Not "I wonder if they like me" but "Everyone hates me!" But I'm actually not too bad around people. Better than I used to be, though I still have those crappy thoughts. I don't know if people feel more anxious when they're around people or whether it's the thought of being around people, and everything which can go wrong, which makes them anxious, as it does for me.

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Well, maybe you could put something together from the definition of mental illness:

any of a broad range of medical conditions (such as major depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, or panic disorder) that are marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, or emotions to impair normal psychological functioning and cause marked distress or disability and that are typically associated with a disruption in normal thinking, feeling, mood, behavior, interpersonal interactions, or daily functioning”

I think the difference between normal social anxiety and SAD lies in the pervasive distress and disability SAD causes. 

 

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For me, social anxiety is extremely debilitating and keeps you isolated when you do desire to be social. Everyone experiences some form of anxiety around meeting other people but they are usually able to work through it. For me, I have such strong social anxiety that I can't date or make new friends. All I can do now is talk to my therapist and hope I can someday get a girlfriend and meet some more friends. 

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I'm not actually sure if I have social anxiety, though I definitely have social problems and spend a hell of a lot of time alone. 'Social Problems' sounds a bit ominous though, like I'm going to get naked and attack people with a baguette or something. Social apathy has often been what I've experienced rather than anxiety, which is why I've often thought I might be a Schizoid. I don't really know anymore. Anxiety can lead to apathy because it's hard to get excited when all you expect is pain and rejection. So shields up! Play dead and hope nobody notices you. Say as little as possible because you'll probably say something stupid that you'll end up kicking the shit out of yourself over, and never ever let anyone get close to you. The old 'Why am I so alone?' and 'Why won't people leave me alone?' dilemma.

I'm trying to change that though. Being isolated just makes my brain turn against itself - I'm a piece of shit and everyone hates me and so on. Surprisingly people don't actually seem to hate me. They might actually like mesometimes, the poor deluded idiots. If they knew the real me blah blah blah. I've been to a few meetups through meetup.com and that's been good. There's quite a few groups for people with social anxiety on there and it's a good way to meet people. Pretty fucking anxious when thinking about going to an event but it turned out fine.

Progress I guess, though I think I'd still prefer to be locked in a cage with a bear rather than go on a date.

 

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1 hour ago, Fluent In Silence said:

I'm not actually sure if I have social anxiety, though I definitely have social problems and spend a hell of a lot of time alone. 'Social Problems' sounds a bit ominous though, like I'm going to get naked and attack people with a baguette or something. Social apathy has often been what I've experienced rather than anxiety, which is why I've often thought I might be a Schizoid. I don't really know anymore. Anxiety can lead to apathy because it's hard to get excited when all you expect is pain and rejection. So shields up! Play dead and hope nobody notices you. Say as little as possible because you'll probably say something stupid that you'll end up kicking the shit out of yourself over, and never ever let anyone get close to you. The old 'Why am I so alone?' and 'Why won't people leave me alone?' dilemma.

I'm trying to change that though. Being isolated just makes my brain turn against itself - I'm a piece of shit and everyone hates me and so on. Surprisingly people don't actually seem to hate me. They might actually like mesometimes, the poor deluded idiots. If they knew the real me blah blah blah. I've been to a few meetups through meetup.com and that's been good. There's quite a few groups for people with social anxiety on there and it's a good way to meet people. Pretty fucking anxious when thinking about going to an event but it turned out fine.

Progress I guess, though I think I'd still prefer to be locked in a cage with a bear rather than go on a date.

 

Nm just another one of my stupid pointless replies. Sorry!

Edited by DammitJanet
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On 8/26/2019 at 11:53 PM, CeremonyNewOrder said:

For me, social anxiety is extremely debilitating and keeps you isolated when you do desire to be social. Everyone experiences some form of anxiety around meeting other people but they are usually able to work through it. For me, I have such strong social anxiety that I can't date or make new friends. All I can do now is talk to my therapist and hope I can someday get a girlfriend and meet some more friends. 

What if you *don’t* desire to be social? It is debilitating for me to be in social situations, but even if it’s somewhere that I would be comfortable being... like at a good friend’s for dinner, my mind is still running through plausible excuses not to go. I’m not agoraphobic, I leave my house every day, it’s just that I like being within the comfort of my home. Is this some other disorder, or part of social anxiety? 

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15 minutes ago, Rabbit37 said:

What if you *don’t* desire to be social? It is debilitating for me to be in social situations, but even if it’s somewhere that I would be comfortable being... like at a good friend’s for dinner, my mind is still running through plausible excuses not to go. I’m not agoraphobic, I leave my house every day, it’s just that I like being within the comfort of my home. Is this some other disorder, or part of social anxiety? 

Socially avoidant? Schizoid seems more of a personality type or disorder and quite different (People with SPD are described as aloof, cold and indifferent). But as @Fluent In Silence mentioned Some people can initially have social anxiety and then I suppose it eventually turns to habitual avoidance / apathy as a coping mechanism.

Edited by Blahblah
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2 minutes ago, Blahblah said:

Socially avoidant? Schizoid seems more of a personality type or disorder, more extreme. Some people can initially have social anxiety and then I suppose it eventually turns to avoidance / apathy as a coping mechanism.

That’s what my initial reply was. It sounds exactly like what I’ve just been dx’d with-avoidant personality disorder. 

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7 minutes ago, DammitJanet said:

That’s what my initial reply was. It sounds exactly like what I’ve just been dx’d with-avoidant personality disorder. 

Does it often stem from (or result from) longterm Social Anxiety disorder? Like can you have both? One makes you anxious, and the other you're not really upset about avoiding social situations (I think?)

Edited by Blahblah
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For me, a large part of social anxiety is not just anticipating social situations and feeling anxious, but beating myself up after the fact. Monday morning quarterbacking it (this might not translate across cultures). Going over and over in my head every thing I said, and feeling inadequate and like everybody I encountered hates me or finds me lacking. All of that is different than just shyness, and probably not a "normal anxious response."

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1 minute ago, Unstrung Harp said:

For me, a large part of social anxiety is not just anticipating social situations and feeling anxious, but beating myself up after the fact. Monday morning quarterbacking it (this might not translate across cultures). Going over and over in my head every thing I said, and feeling inadequate and like everybody I encountered hates me or finds me lacking. All of that is different than just shyness, and probably not a "normal anxious response."

I do this too, I guess I had always attributed it to my nasty inner critic and depression. I constantly ruminate and pick apart interactions.

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Just now, Blahblah said:

I do this too, I guess I had always attributed it to my nasty inner critic and depression. I constantly ruminate and pick apart interactions.

Maybe. But I put this in the social anxiety category, because it's all part of the social interaction for me. What did I say? Did I seem like a moron? Etc. Etc. I do that here too a lot. I post or respond to a post and I instantly regret it, because I will experience a ton of anxiety waiting to see if somebody will yell at me about it, or just ignore what I said because it's stupid. 

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thank you all for a really good conversation.  this is a hard one for me to fight, because treatment seems challenging.  My tdoc swears by (really progressive) exposures for it and I may have to follow his direction in that respect.  but it feels crappy when doing it (and, even worse, when anticipating doing it) and I definitely do the critiquing after the fact. 

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15 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

thank you all for a really good conversation.  this is a hard one for me to fight, because treatment seems challenging.  My tdoc swears by (really progressive) exposures for it and I may have to follow his direction in that respect.  but it feels crappy when doing it (and, even worse, when anticipating doing it) and I definitely do the critiquing after the fact. 

I do agree that exposure is probably the best way through it. I got over a phone anxiety by getting a customer service job where I had to take phone calls all the time. I still get anxious about phone calls, but not in a totally debilitating way. And teaching, which is a really weird job choice when you have social anxiety, got me over some of the rest of it, though it might always be with me to a certain degree. But I agree, it is hard to fight.

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