social anxiety disorder

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    I'm an LPN student who has wanted to be a nurse for a few years. I also have social anxiety disorder and am worried about the effect it may have on my career. It's fairly well controlled most of the time, and I can be assertive but I'm not always comfortable around new people. Most of the time I don't think anyone notices and I'm friendly and all that but when it gets bad I get physical symptoms like my heart beating fast or my hands shaking, etc.
    I'm hoping I'll get used to it since it's in a job setting, but I really am not sure how everything will work out. It's definitely something I want to try for. I'm planning on eventually becoming an RN.
    My question is are there any nurses here who have SAD? If so how do you deal with it? Are there any recommendations or specific fields that might help?
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    Never been formally diagnosed but fit the descriptions and it has held me back in a lot of situations in my life, but I seem to have learned to compensate over time. For me the problem is most intense specificlly in the kind of situation where you have to circulate among strangers and initiate conversations. I would gladly choose having a root canal over going to a cocktail party or circulating among others prior to a meeting/ workshop. Luckily, I don't have that much of a problem in small groups of co-workers or one-on-one with my patients or their families. I find I can put my thoughts on paper more easily than express them verbally, either in person or on the phone. I jot notes down on what I need to discuss prior to making phone calls. As for dealing with patients and their families, it is difficult for me to think on my feet but it has gotten easier over time, as I encounter similar situations over and over again. Also, I've found it is OK to say to the pt/ family "Let me fiind out and get back to you"-I'm much more confident when I have verified or looked up whatever information is requested.
    You can work around this; I don't see why it should keep you from your goal. Good luck!
  6. 0
    Quote from sophieness
    I'm an LPN student who has wanted to be a nurse for a few years. I also have social anxiety disorder and am worried about the effect it may have on my career. It's fairly well controlled most of the time, and I can be assertive but I'm not always comfortable around new people. Most of the time I don't think anyone notices and I'm friendly and all that but when it gets bad I get physical symptoms like my heart beating fast or my hands shaking, etc.
    I'm hoping I'll get used to it since it's in a job setting, but I really am not sure how everything will work out. It's definitely something I want to try for. I'm planning on eventually becoming an RN.
    My question is are there any nurses here who have SAD? If so how do you deal with it? Are there any recommendations or specific fields that might help?
    Why not just ask your family doc to put you on Paxil? It's made for this condition!
  7. 0
    I'm on it! I have corelated depression, and I think it helps with that a lot more than the anxiety itself...I also take beta blockers. I'm able to function in school pretty well, and my grades are really good, but I'm not in clinicals out talking to patients yet. I hope, I hope...that it will be fine.

    Thanks for your replies! Chaya that gives me more confidence... I too am way better one on one with people than in groups.
    Last edit by sophieness on Jul 31, '04
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    Quote from sophieness
    I'm on it! I have corelated depression, and I think it helps with that a lot more than the anxiety itself...I also take beta blockers. I'm able to function in school pretty well, and my grades are really good, but I'm not in clinicals out talking to patients yet. I hope, I hope...that it will be fine.

    Thanks for your replies! Chaya that gives me more confidence... I too am way better one on one with people than in groups.
    Honestly, just take it one day at a time. You will eventually build the skills and confidence in talking to patients, once you learn to place the focus on them rather than yourself. As you become more confident, which happens naturally over time, you will WANT to talk to your patients b/c you will finally realize that you have information that will HELP them in their journey through illness or recovery. You will realize that 1) most of the population has almost no understanding of basic healthcare issues, 2) you hold valuable and needed knowledge, and 3) by sharing your knowledge, you can help a person or family TREMENDOUSLY. You will get a lot of gratitude and positive feedback, which will reinforce this confidence in yourself & help you open up. Don't be hard on yourself right now, or get obsessed with your own anxiety and diagnosis. Just do what you have to from day to day, allow yourself to open up gradually, and DON'T criticize yourself. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable, anxious, and awkward, but stick with nursing & go through this whole process anyway. You will bloom naturally.

    I was also diagnosed with Social Phobia & treated with Paxil and other antidepressants for a while. Before going through nursing school and becoming a nurse, my greatest fear was having to communicate with families or more than one person in a room at a single time. I was deathly afraid of the upcoming interviews I would have to go through after graduation.

    Now, after going through school and working as a nurse for a year, I feel so much more confident in my own skin. I can now talk to whole families in a room without wanting to flee. I still feel awkward at times, but I don't judge myself or take it too seriously. I LEARNED to do all of this over time. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. Now I no longer consider myself to have social anxiety, miracle of miracles. Nursing is a field that truly can bring out the best in an individual, both professionally and on a personal level -- it really did help me stop focusing on my own neuroses & begin TRULY focusing on other people in a compassionate and total way. It takes you outside of yourself and moves the focus away from your own fears/anxieties.

    You will be amazed with who you've become in a few years -- please just stick with nursing, and watch the personal growth happen!
    richnurse828 likes this.
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    I agree with lady jezebel -- the more good experiences you have, and the more you attempt new things, the easier it will be (kind of a self-directed behavior modification).

    If that doesn't work for you, try a professional who does behavior mod (psychologist). It is usually a time-limited therapy (so you're not paying him/her forever) and it really works.


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