See thread title, particularly the first two words
I have never had a panic attack
Whenever I go to message boards for it, there are posts like “huge victory, I rode the bus today!” And good for them, sure, but that’s not remotely like my experience.
I … am not really sure what my question is, to be honest. I am very shy, very uncomfortable meeting people, but I don’t want to act like I have this condition when I don’t because people who do that are annoying and “undiagnosed” and “self-diagnosed” are red flags for a good reason. How would I know? How would I know if it’s even worth it to find a professional I can ask?
Bullshit. SAD is not just a “politically correct” name for shyness, it is a mental illness.
Shyness does not impede much (if at all) upon a person’s ability to live a normal life. And although a shy person might struggle with talking to strangers, they are still perfectly able to have a normal social life.
I have SAD, and I am not able to leave my room for days at a time. I can spend a couple of days psyching myself up, worrying, panicking and crying, before doing something as simple as going to the shop or using the phone. Not just interacting with strangers, but even having strangers around me (e.g. passers-by on the street), is very distressing to me. Because of my condition, I do not have many friends or much of a social life at all. I have found myself hungry, with no food in the house, and there’s nothing I could do about it because I just couldn’t get out the house that day.
Trust me, I would do anything to be able to “fix it” by “going out to bars more often”. It ain’t that simple.
Going back to the OP, what friedo says is correct. It’s not a disorder unless it interferes with your life. And as Maastricht implies, unless you’re looking to improve your situation, with the help of professionals, then being “labelled” with a disorder is pretty much pointless.
If you think that your discomfort is affecting your ability to live your life, and if you want to try something to improve the situation (be that therapy, drugs, or whatever), go and have a talk with your doctor.
You have a real disorder. The OP doesn’t seem to be in same boat. He’s getting an amateur diagnosis, I assume you’ve had a professional one. If I implied there was no legitimate diagnosis of SAD or other anxiety disorders then I apologize.
1> Is she driving you to seek treatment.
2> Do you believe you have a problem here?
And the critical questions;
3> Is she throwing it in your face or constantly bringing it up, (ala “you’re broken”)
4> Is she making you feel bad about yourself.
5> Is she exaggerating your issues and using it as an excuse to isolate you.
If you answered yes to two or more of the last three of these, DUMP THE BITCH. This is abusive behavior and it will only get worse as she isolates you and kills your self esteem to keep control over you. Hell, if you answered yes to any of the last three, you need to have a serious talk and if it doesn’t change, take a walk.
I then answered the questions based on how I was when I was about 18 (quite shy with strangers, scared of using the phone and standing in front of an audience, but nothing that disrupted my day-to-day life). I scored 55, which is right at the bottom of “moderate SAD”. So in my opinion, the results are a little exaggerated.
Everything is on a continuum. Most people are somewhat reserved when meeting other people, including myself, and I’m in sales, In normal social functioning in men there is a firm handshake “Hello there!” hail fellow well met social greeting gesture that most men can do with new people and strangers without stressing themselves. If you are having genuine trouble with something that basic, and can’t even fake it properly there probably is a behavioral or psychological issue you need to address if you want more normal social functioning.
If it’s more along the lines of simply not wanting to go to parties and social gatherings just to mingle and hang that’s well within the range of the churlish end of normal, although it does make you sort of a non-fun person to hang with, and someone who should be wary of making long term plans with a woman who is 180 degrees opposite in orientation unless you welcome the change she brings.
To get 55 you’re still scoring something on a lot of items, or very high on a few - most people without it would score hardly at all. I would say there was probably an impact, but of course it would be nothing compared to what you’re talking about now. You dont have to be housebound to have social anxiety disorder, thats why they have a range of severity in the outcomes.
It is a ‘real’ scale, but nothing is perfect, so followup with a professional would be the obvious way to go if the results are a concern.
Edit: Btw having a girlfriend doesnt prove anything in itself, social anxiety can be either very specific or quite generalised.