Aug 26, 2007

How to tell your doctor that you have social anxiety

This is a question that comes up quite often in the search strings on my blog...

So how do you tell your doctor? First thing to try is to just say it, prepare your "speech" in advance, repeat it, and then when at the doctor just take a deep breath and say it: I have social anxiety. For them it's not really as much of a big deal as it is for us. It's just another disease and another diagnostic code.

The thing is, each of us is different, my social anxiety mostly kicks in when I really like someone and want to be closer to them. So for me it worked quite well with a new doctor. I said it when I saw him the second time and it wasn't such a big deal. I had to repeat it again after I've been through a pregnancy with him and respected him much more. That time it was hell for both him and me; it came at the expense of his lunch break. It was very difficult but also very relieving. I felt very light coming out of that room... also emotionally drained.

So, again, try to say it, as difficult as it seems. If this doesn't work, write it down and send a letter and an email a week or so before your appointment. You might be embarrassed that the office staff might read it. I was very embarrassed to see my emails in my medical record. At the end of the day, for the medical office staff, you are just another patient with another diagnostic code, they don't really care that much. If anything, they will be nicer to you. The general idea of what social anxiety is that you're cutely shy and easily teasable. Few people really understand the emotional turmoil we go through.

Another idea is to say that you have anxiety. The doctor should not jump in with medication, they should send you to a therapist, psychiatrist or the like... Then the only person you need to give details to is the therapist. I recommend that you don't start dealing with social anxiety by taking medication. There's always the chance that you can do without and the medicine for SA are not innocent.

So good luck! and feel free to comment (anonymously or not) on how YOU told your doctor about it.


mrrobot said...

I can relate entirely about how to tell your doctor about your social anxiety:- before I overcame it in my own way, the prospect of meeting with a doctor and the off chance that he or the nurses might humiliate me for being a hypochondriac was too much for me to bear so I never did see one.
Looking back now, I realise that such a fear was completely unfounded, and that my recovery would have probably been a lot easier with the help of a doctor.
(see for how i overcame it.)
keep up the effort

Anonymous said...

do you mean that your doctor gets your emails and keeps them?? :0