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CBT for social anxiety


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Hi All,

 

I suffer from social anxiety as some of you may already know--I've started a few threads on the subject.  I'm 4 months out and even though my overall anxiety level has come down considerably over the last few months, I'm still really struggling with the social anxiety.  I have to face the fact that my current anxiety level could be as good as it gets. 

 

I've done plenty of therapy in the past but all of it in the classic psychoanalysis category, which I learned the hard way doesn't do a thing for social anxiety.  I was also given drugs of course--the usual Paxil, Effexor, and the worst one by far, Klonopin.  They all did more harm than good with their nasty side effects and here I am 15 years later still suffering from my original problem--social/perfomance anxiety. 

 

I've heard CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can be quite effective and was wondering if any BB's have tried it.  I welcome all the advice I can get with this as I'm tired of living my life in the shadows.

 

Thanks,

 

Mal

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I'm interested in this as well. Social anxiety is what is keeping my symptoms active. I was actually back to normal for a few months, but some people pissed me off recently and since then I have had a full blown return of symptoms that hasn't let up in a month. And I have a high probability of seeing the main person who pissed me off on a regular basis for a long time, and just thinking about this makes it all even worse. I really, really don't know what to do about this.
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Hi Trig,

 

Ditto for me; I feel like the social anxiety is my biggest hurdle and what sets off symptoms for me.  I like to think that this will improve somewhat with time because I don't remember it being quite this intense before benzos.  I'm assuming you're already off benzos, is that true? 

 

I get very frustrated with people as well and here again I think some of it is from increased irritability from early withdrawal.  I'm looking into meditation to help with this, although I haven't been able to discipline myself enough yet to sit down and do it for any length of time.  I'm not sure why this is so difficult for me.  I've been able to exercise but not meditate.  Exercise has helped me somewhat with working off nervous energy, and been very beneficial in other ways.  I highly recommend it if you're not doing any form of exercise.  I'd be a knotted-up mess if I didn't go to the gym or walk or do something every day.

 

Hopefully some other BBs will chime in about their experiences with CBT.

 

Mal

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HI guys,

 

I think that CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)has been found to be highly effective in helping folks cope with anxiety disorders.  That is different than benzo withdrawal "anxiety", which is a whole other beast.  I had about a year of CBT prior to the drug withdrawal and I think that many concepts helped me a lot to cope with the withdrawal.  I cant imagine trying to learn CBT while I was in the midst of drug withdrawal though.  I was far too sick.  But the skills I already had helped a lot.

 

You can google Marsha Linehan, who was a pioneer in the field.  Also amazon has some work books that can get you started.  DBT is similar (dialectical behavior therapy).  And ACT is another (forget what it stands for at the moment). 

 

The principles are based on Eastern traditions of mindfulness, living in the moment, realizing that much of our suffering is due to the story we tell ourselves about the facts of our lives.  CBT teaches skills for tolerating distress and finding soothing practices we can use for situations that stir up feelings of anxiety, or depression. 

 

I never had any anxiety before benzo withdrawal, so I cant speak first hand for that.  But honestly, I think CBT skills are valuable for just about anyone.  They are practical skills for managing emotional dysregulation, and all humans get disregulated at times. 

 

Hope that helps,

cdawg 

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Hi cdawg,

 

Thanks for your input.  You're totally right about CBT not working for benzo w/d anxiety.  I'm assuming you're referring to the exposure aspect involved in CBT that might be too much for those in acute w/d, is that right?  I know I couldn't have begun to do any kind of therapy 2-3 months ago my anxiety level was so high from just coming off Valium.  There was no way I could have handled it.  I feel like I can now though, so that makes me realize that maybe I've healed more than I realized.  Thank you for that!

 

While I know I'm still suffering the effects of w/d, speaking for myself, I also know that I had social anxiety to some extent before taking benzos so I need to address that.  As much as I'd like to think it's all from the benzos, the reality for me is that it's not.  I know that if I don't do some work my recovery is going to be limited.

 

Mal

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About 6 months ago I was diagnosed with massive bilateral pulmonary embolisms.  Doctors said that if I had gotten in any later, things may have turned out considerably worse.  Faced with the potential of dying, I developed crippling anxiety with a dash of agoraphobia.  The first week home from the hospital I started having panic attacks, the most god-awful incredibly frightening thing I've ever gone through, by far.  After a month or so of anxiety, panic attacks, horrifying thoughts, sleep disturbances, etc., I couldn't take it anymore & reached out to a CBT.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy - being Cognitive, or aware, of your Behavior & correcting it :)  My therapist has been instrumental in my recovery.  I still struggle & have bad days, but nowhere near what it was when I first developed it.  He's helped me to recognize when panic is setting in & what triggers it & what to do to counteract it, or even roll with it.  He has taught me how to cope with feelings/sensations & minimize their hold on me.  I can do things now that would have been completely out of the question a few months ago.

 

You've been suffering for far longer than I have, so I can't say if it will help you or not, but if I had been suffering for that long with it all, I would try -anything- for even slight relief :)  The worst you can do is give it a shot.  If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.  If it -does- work, it can have a massive impact on your life =)

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KungFuKao,

 

Thanks so much for sharing your positive experience with CBT--helps me feel more optimistic about the future.  That must have been extremely frightening to get such a diagnosis; I can't imagine how I would react.  Good to hear your health has vastly improved. 

 

If you care to, could you share with us your benzo experience?  I guess I'm just curious as to where you are in your recovery, how long you've been off benzos, etc. 

 

Thanks,

 

Mal

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Absolutely!  I'm currently on 1.25mg of Ativan.  I was prescribed Clonazepam initially by my doctor for the unholy panic & anxiety I was feeling, and it made me feel like I was made out of lead.  My entire body felt heavy, and I could barely think or concentrate, felt like garbage, so we tried Ativan instead, and things improved.  It might have even been the placebo effect, for me.  I'm taking a pill -for- anxiety, so it must be helping, right?  hehe. 

 

My doctor did tell me that there was a risk of becoming physically dependent, and I told him that was something I absolutely did not want to have happen, and he assured me that he wouldn't leave me on it long enough for this to occur.  Well, shocker, 6 months later I tell him that I'm ready to come off of it, and he tells me that I'm going to need to taper because I've been on it for so long.  I was furious!  I was informed to come down 1/2mg *I was at 1mg three times per day* every 4-5 days, which I did until I got to 1.5mg and had the two worst days of my life.  Withdrawal =P  Every symptom in the book.  I found out that I can't really follow a 'schedule' for tapering, once I get to a place that isn't too turbulent symptomwise, I have to shave off a little bit. 

 

There's definitely peaks & valleys, and occasional bad days, (but who doesn't get those? :D) but I can't imagine having to suffer for as long as you have.  Keep your chin up, and don't be angry at yourself for having this.  I remember being very angry with myself for not being able to control this; I've always been a 'both hands on the wheel' kind of person.  Acceptance is key!  That doesn't mean you have to -like- it, but accept it for what it is & don't let it gain any more power than it already has.  I hope you find a solid CB therapist, and that you find the help & relief that you need & deserve!

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Kungfukao,

 

Thanks for sharing your benzo experience with us.  Yea, like a lot of BBs, I could go on and on about psychiatrists; their cavalier attitudes surrounding benzos are truly unbelievable.  Psych. don't seem to care one bit how these drugs impact people's lives, not one bit.  Anyway...  Don't want to go on about that.

 

I too am that "both hands on the wheel" kind of person, so I'm struggling with the acceptance.  The anger at my shrink and this situation is gradually subsiding though.  It's not nearly as bad as it was even a couple months ago, so I guess there's hope. 

 

I'm looking forward to starting CBT, seems like I can only benefit from it--even if just a little bit.  I'll take all the help I can get!

 

Mal

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