Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Anxiety

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Question
Hello,I'm a high school student and suffer from an anxiety disorder.Half of the time I feel healthy and happy with my friends,but,many times anxiety takes its toll over me and leaves me mentally imbalanced.I have feelings like-what will other people or my friends think if I say something.Ain't they going to leave me alone.I also think about that what will their reactions be to something.For example,while discussing about any song or TV show etc.,I think that what do they think about it and I just feel heartbroken in this state of mind.Please help.

Answer
Hello John

It's quite natural and normal for people of high-school age to be concerned about the impressions they make, especially with their own group.  And this is good, in that it trains the person to avoid looking bad. So what you might need to do is not to try to eliminate what is really a question of social sensitivity -- which is a critically important trait throughout life -- but to control it rather than letting it control you. And there are techniques for this.

One very effective way is to ask the "What if" question. "If I say that, what is the worst that can happen? And if it actually does happen, what difference will that make to me in one or ten years?"

Another way is to look for responses. After you say something, what is the facial expression? If it's negative (unlikely), ask why they disagree, because their opinion is important to you. If you can't tell, probe a little. "Right?" "Do you agree?" "Does that make sense?"

And another (just in case) is to practice responding to negative reactions so that if any actually do arise, you won't have to fear them. "Ya, you're probably right." "Really? OK, I hadn't thought of it that way." "I'm glad to disagree, because that shows you're thoughtful."

Give those a try, and you may think of others too. I think they'll work for you, and if they don't, you could ask at your school if they can recommend a clinical psychologist or other mental-health professional who can help someone deal with an anxiety condition.

Thanks for asking us, and good luck with this.

Alan  

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach

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Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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