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How Do I Talk to My Doctor About Social Anxiety?

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Updated July 08, 2012

Question: How Do I Talk to My Doctor About Social Anxiety?

"I can't do it. Every time I go in, I don't know what to say.... How do I let them see what I go through without explaining it? I can't explain properly what it is. It's embarrassing to be there. I don't like admitting something is wrong with me. I hardly even know how to talk. Even if I don't care about others watching, when I speak all I hear is me speaking. All I can focus on is what to say."

-Social Phobia World forum member

Does this sound like you? Are you afraid to talk to your doctor about social anxiety? If so, you are not alone.

Answer:

Many people with symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD) never receive a diagnosis because they are afraid to talk about how they are feeling.

Write it Down

One good solution for this problem is to present your doctor with a case summary instead of trying to verbally explain your symptoms. In general a case summary is a concise description of your history of symptoms. The summary should be detailed but short enough that your doctor can read through it quickly.

Example of a Case Summary for Social Anxiety

Even if you don't bring a case summary, it is a good idea to write out your thoughts ahead of time in point form. Doing so ensures that nothing gets forgotten even if you become anxious when speaking with your doctor. Writing down the answers that your doctor gives will also give you a written record of what was said and help to keep you focused.

Acknowledge Your Anxiety

Before starting to speak with your doctor, tell him that you are going to have a hard time talking with him. If you decide to prepare a case summary, include a statement at the beginning to this effect: "I probably look fine to you now, but inside I am terrified that you are judging me. When I talk to doctors I become very anxious, my mind goes blank and I can't explain what is wrong."

Bring Someone Along

It is a good idea to bring someone with you to speak to your doctor. In addition to having the support of a friend or family member, that person can listen to what is said, think of questions, and ask for clarification when necessary. A second person could also make notes of what is said during the meeting.

Although it can be intimidating talking to professionals about personal issues, it is your doctor's job to listen and understand. Trusting your doctor may be hard, but sharing how you are feeling is the first step toward getting help.

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