Social Phobia: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Social phobia causes a fear of social situations. It is also called social anxiety disorder. People with this condition have trouble talking or meeting with people. They may have a hard time performing in front of others. They worry that they will embarrass themselves. And they worry that others will judge them and think poorly of them. Social phobia is not the same as being shy. Nor is it the same as a normal nervous reaction to public speaking. It causes a much higher level of fear. It often starts days or weeks before an event.

This condition often triggers symptoms such as blushing, sweating, shakiness, fast heartbeat, and trouble thinking. It can make you feel anxious, sad, cranky or grumpy. You may be easily startled before or during a social event. You may worry or fear that something bad is going to happen. Social phobia can have a strong effect on your daily life. It may even cause you to withdraw from social settings. This can lead you to miss work or school.

Social phobia can be treated with medicine and counselling.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Find a counsellor you like and trust. Talk openly and honestly about your problems. Be willing to make some changes.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems with your medicine. When you feel good, you may think you do not need your medicine, but it is important to keep taking it.
  • You may be able to reduce your phobia at home by practicing a healthy lifestyle.
    • Get at least 2½ hours of exercise a week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
    • Go to bed at nearly the same time every night. And keep your room quiet and dark. This will reduce distractions and help you get a good night's rest.
    • Eat a balanced diet by choosing foods low in fat and high in fibre.
    • Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as chocolate and coffee. Caffeine may make your phobia worse.
    • Try some relaxation exercises. Certain breathing exercises and muscle relaxation exercises help reduce anxiety.
  • Stay active. Try to do the things you usually enjoy doing, even if you don't feel like doing them.
  • Discuss the cause of your fears with a good friend or family member. Or join a support group for people with problems like yours. Sharing feelings with others sometimes relieves fear.
  • When you start to feel fearful, do something to get your mind off it, such as taking a walk.
  • Trust that you can improve your way of coping with these fears. You can feel better.

What should you do if someone in your family has a phobia?

  • Learn about the phobia and signs that symptoms are getting worse.
  • Remind your family member of your love. Speak honestly with him or her.
  • Make a plan with all family members about how to take care of your loved one when his or her fears are bad. Talk about your concerns and those of other family members.
  • Do not focus attention only on the family member who is in treatment.
  • Remind yourself that it will take time for changes to occur.
  • Do not blame yourself for his or her condition.
  • Know your legal rights and the legal rights of your family member.
  • Take care of yourself. Stay involved with your own interests, such as your career, hobbies, and friends.
  • Use exercise, positive self-talk, relaxation, and deep breathing exercises to help lower your stress.
  • If you are having a hard time with your feelings and your interactions with your family member, talk with a counsellor.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Someone you know is about to attempt or is attempting suicide.
  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • A person with a phobia mentions suicide. If a suicide threat seems real, with a specific plan and a way to carry it out, you or someone you trust should stay with the person until you get help.
  • Anxiety or irrational fear upsets your daily activities.
  • Sudden, severe attacks of fear or anxiety with physical symptoms (shaking, sweating) seem to occur for no reason.
  • You start to use illegal drugs or drink alcohol heavily.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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