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By Anonymous May 4, 2010 - 7:58am
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I've suffered from social phobia since I was very young,I've read a lot about it,but personally I've realised that my social phobia,which is quite strong, almost disappears when I feel happy o I'm in a very good mood,I feel optimistic and pleased with life...Does serotonin have something to do with social phobia? Is it something chemical in our brain?

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Yes,you are right.Blushing,which is the thing I worry most about,happens when I feel most vulnerable ,the moments when I feel not in an excellent mood,less confident,let's say,(always chemicals,I suposse).In my job I feel quite confident,as I'm considered to be an excellent teacher,so after all these years I really feel quite confident and able to solve any situation.Although also in my job in particular ocasions I feel embarrased,it's not a big problem.
Thanks for saying that I'm doing well.I've thought the same since I knew that what I suffered from was social phobia and it did not depend only on my mental strength or will.I've done a lot,and I've suffered a lot,but now everything is different because I place myself first...and then my social phobia comes next...I AM the most important thing to think about,feeling well...That's what I think.
I would like to ask about you,..What step in the process are you in? What kind of social phobia,or let's say, symptoms did you have or do you have?
Take care.Bye.

May 21, 2010 - 1:54am

I guess I would say that the blushing seems to happen when you feel most vulnerable. And that in your job as a teacher, you feel stronger and more confident than you do when you are talking about personal issues sometimes even with a close friend?

Could that be the case?

Regardless, I still think that you're doing SO well on this issue. You have made a lot of progress and I'm sure you will continue to do so. Especially because you are thinking consciously about it and trying to unravel what's going on behind the scenes when it happens.

May 20, 2010 - 9:55am


I'm thinking about the times when you are fine with a certain person and then other times a bit of anxiety can wash over you. I know what you mean.

For me, I'm sometimes more anxious when I'm startled in some way. For instance, if I know there is something that could make me anxious and I plan for it or talk to myself about it, perhaps it won't affect me that way. But when something just comes up that I hadn't really thought about, the anxiety can set in. Could this be part of it with you? Perhaps sometimes your brain feels like you are letting your guard down too much and it wants to reel you back in?

I, too, feel for those who suffer with anxiety and don't know it or how to fix it. I was anxious as a child too but didn't really figure anything out until I was an adult. I think that for children in whom it is debilitating, it's easier for doctors or parents to figure out that something is wrong. And I think all anxiety disorders are getting a little more well-known and perhaps more often diagnosed.

But not everyone develops it as a child, either. Many develop anxiety as a result of specific events in their lives. So it's really as individual as we are.

Good to hear from you again. Take care!

May 17, 2010 - 10:26am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Diane Porter)

Hi again Diane,
You talk about feeling more anxious when you are startled in some ways...I would like to explain my opinion,what I feel...Well,it depends,in my job,absolutely yes,if I'm prepared to answer a question or give an explanation about something which I had thought about previously,I feel fine...But in the personal sense,it does not work the same...If I'm with a friend,I know I will talk to him/her about my personal life,boyfriend,family,etc...When I hear the question:e.g "How are you doing with your boyfriend?" I begin to feel embarrased,(always when I'm in the mood for feeling embarrased,if,not,that's ok...) I start to panick about getting red,anxious,etc...and I have a really bad time...Just to give an example.
So planning what you are going to say,thinking about what questions you may be asked...it really helps me in my job as a teacher,but in the private sense...Not at all!
What do you thing of this?
THANKS,bye for now!

May 20, 2010 - 2:04am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Diane...
Thanks again for your reply...
Make sense? mmmm....Non comment!
I would like to ask you how it's possible that with a friend that I love,I trust,and I feel fine...still sometimes comes to me this feeling of self-consciousness,of uneasiness...and I even get red,nervous,especially talking about me or my private things,but not always,sometimes I feel fine and completely at ease speaking about myself...So...yes,my brain is used to thinking about certain things in certain ways...But why not always? Why I do feel fine on certain ocasions and absolutely self.conscious,embarrased,blushing like a mature tomato??Why does my brain on those ocasions don't have those automatic thoughts? My God!It's extraordinarily complicated,isn't it?
I told you that I conseider myself to be strong,independent,determined,educated, and even intelligent...But what happens with people who are ignorant in the general sense,suffer a lot with this problem and are completely lost about how they feel and why they feel like that,as it happened to me when I was very young? How can they know what to do,where to start,where to look for help? It can really destroy their life in a significant way,can't it?
Thanks Diane.Bye for now!

May 15, 2010 - 3:47am

LOL! I have asked myself (and my therapist) the same thing about my anxiety disorder!

One of the things to know is this: Our brains generate thoughts all the time. It's what they do. Just like our heart beats and our lungs inflate and deflate. We don't think up each thought ourselves anymore than we consciously manage each beat of our heart or each breath our lungs take.

Many of the thoughts our brains generate come in that area of "chatter" -- they are habitual thoughts that our brain goes back to time and time again. You're right, some is genetics, some is chemistry. But some is just our brain trying to go down old pathways that used to work.

You know how you can get a song stuck in your head? Well, you can get a thought stuck in your head, too. And if it's a thought you've had since childhood, it can be really, really stuck.

What you've done over the last 10 years is to start to make those thoughts less natural, less of a habit. And you've made huge progress. You are teaching your brain new thoughts, like "blushing is not a big deal," and it is learning to move on more quickly. This is pretty exciting.

I used to joke with my therapist that it must not be "my" brain because it won't do what I want it to do!! But when I think about it as an organ that has been taught to think certain ways -- in childhood, while growing up, and as an adult -- I can see why some patterns are so hard to break.

Does that make sense?

May 14, 2010 - 10:14am

I AM surprised at your age, but in a very good way -- I am so happy that you, at 44, are in such a good place despite your social anxiety. And by that I mean that you have found ways to cope and pathways to take that have become your tools.

Can I talk to you about the blushing? I know that it makes you feel like the center of attention, which is very uncomfortable for me as well (though I don't blush like you do). But many people just think blushing is cute. I know, I know, that doesn't make you feel a lot better, but it's true. It may help you to figure out a sentence that you can always say when you blush that will deflect attention from the situation immediately at hand. Something like:

-- "Yep, that's me, I blush at Hallmark commercials," or
-- "I'm not blushing, I think I just need sunscreen," or
-- "That's not a blush, I'm just looking at the world through rose-colored glasses"

Does that seem possible? One of the best things to get attention off ourselves is, ironically, to make a joke about ourselves. People will laugh at the joke, and usually then move on instead of continuing to focus on you.

Blushing isn't stupid. It's just a normal human reaction and many, many people do it. Have you ever seen someone blush on television? It actually goes away faster than you think. That 30 seconds or so may seem like a long time to you, but it isn't long or a big deal to others.

This is a column written by a doctor on blushing and social anxiety:


You're already doing the right thing by not fretting over it as much as you used to when you were younger! The doctor points out that "fear of blushing" is almost enough to make it worse all on its own. And he also emphasizes that others don't see blushing nearly as negatively as the person does who actually IS blushing.

Have you ever considered therapy for your social anxiety?

May 13, 2010 - 8:42am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Diane Porter)

Hi Diane,
Thanks again for your answer.
I read what you said about blushing,and I think it's all completely right,but actually the fact of being 44 years old makes it a bit complicated,because what it can be cute for a teenager,it just seems a bit odd in an adult,but that's not the point.The point is that I've learnt not to worry too much when I blush,and now it's just those seconds that I feel uncomfortable,but immediately after I forget about it and go on with what I was doing...and that's a progress,I think...
Of course I have considered treatment for my phobia,I 've been to two psycologist...One of them told me that is was just an obsession that I would have to get rid of...and concentrate on living...and the other just didn't know anything about social phobia...Neither of them could help me at all...So I stopped thinking about the idea...I know there are special centres and also good profesionals and this problem can be treated very well by them,in Barcelona (my city) etc...but the problem is that long treatments required for this disorder cost lots of money,which I don't have at the moment...I've really tried to look for help different times during my life,but,.in one case,the lack of knowledge and in the other my lack of money...So I've tried to manage it on my own...I live much better now than ten years ago,so I feel fine at the moment,although I would really like to go on a treatment,etc,etc...I would do it very willingly,absolutely.
I will read the sites your sent me about blushing with special attention.
And one last question...How is it possible that a person like me,strong,determined,more or less intelligent,educated,who has done so difficult and courageous things in life...isn't able to solve this problem in a complete way??? Again brain chemistry,genetics,etc....But I still don't understand...
Thank you very much for your help.

May 14, 2010 - 1:36am


I think you have a wonderful attitude and that you're doing very well. The fact that you can usually handle your social anxiety on your own, and only need help with anti-anxiety medicine a few times a month, tells me that you are doing something right.

I am sorry, however, that you don't feel you can share this with your boyfriend or close friends. Not even in a quiet moment? You might try sometime, with someone you feel very close to. They just might surprise you by being supportive and understanding. (Yes, they might be startled at first since you present such a happy front to the world, but after that I think they'd really try to understand.)

You might like this online forum, where you can write or chat to others who also have social anxiety:


May 7, 2010 - 8:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Diane Porter)

Hi Diane,
Thank you for your message and your words.I also think that I'm doing my best in order to live as well as possible.The fact is that years ago,I thought I was a little strange,different,as I felt I was extremely shy and felt embarrased for anything that concentrated attention on me.Now,fortunately,I know that I suffer from something that is not that strange,something connected with brain chemistry,maybe also with past experiences that have activated this behaviour ,so this makes me feel really well.I can handle the problem more easily.However,If you have any suggestion for me,something that can help me with my "problem",something that I could do,etc...I would be very grateful.Thanks a lot.

May 11, 2010 - 1:40am
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