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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hi, I have a question. I am by nature, an extrovert and I love

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Hi, I have a question. I am by nature, an extrovert and I love people. I am experiencing something that i never have before and I don't know what is going on. However, over the last few months, whenever I think about attending a function where there is a group of people, even if I just picture the event in my mind with me there, chatting with others, I FEEL physically exhausted, a pain in my chest and immediately, I think, "No, I am not going to go." I have kept from going out where I have to see people I know. Also, when I am with people who I have to make small chitchat with that I don't know well, I feel trapped. When speaking with someone, thoughts like, "I hate my life! Everybody stop pulling on me!" and there are pictures going through my head of me fighting to get away. I also think, "I don't care what you [the person I am talking to] are saying." I also feel angry when I am there in that relational situation. I am at home visiting my family now for the holidays where I feel safe and that I don't have to make small talk, but prior to returning, there was a lot of internal chatter such as, "I hate my life" and "I just want to die." I don't feel depressed, but I feel weary. Since I have been home, a lot of this internal noise has stopped but I just experienced it again in a social situation and realize it's something that I need to pay attention to. I have had a lot of things happen within in the last twelve months: two close friends passed away, a business venture fell apart and financial struggles have followed, I moved out of my home, traveled for a month for work, had someone break into my home, had two friends I have known for over twenty years tell me that they couldn't communicate with me anymore, and have gotten my heart broken with a man. Is what I am feeling a result of grief? If not, what is going on?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your problem.


From what you've described, you have had many stressors in the past year. And these were not little stressors, but major life changing ones. Your symptoms are telling you that you are overwhelmed.


As you described your symptoms, I believe that you may be dealing with two different issues here. One, you may have a mild depression. You do not necessarily have to feel depressed to be depressed. When you feel weary, exhausted, not caring about your conversations, feeling angry, having fleeting wishes to die can all be symptoms of a mild depression.


Your other symptoms are indications of a mild social anxiety disorder. Feeling anxious around other people, crowds, not wanting to go out when you previously wanted to, feeling anxious about conversations with others point to social anxiety.


People can have reactions to stress that involve having several diagnosis at once. In the cases of extreme stress, like you experienced, it would be highly unlikely someone could come through such stress without a reaction. Some people get PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), some get anxious, some develop depression and like you, some develop a reaction that is a combination. Given that you had financial stresses along with someone breaking into your home, it is no wonder that you are feeling unsafe in social situations. Your comfort zone was violated. Having important relationships end would trigger a depression. What you are experiencing is called comorbidity. It just means that you have two possible diagnoses at one time.


The good news is that your problems are easily treatable. Ideally a combination of reading, counseling support and stress reduction is what you need to address your issues. There are some books you can get that might help get you started. One is called Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You by Richard O'Connor. Another is The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi. There are also numerous books on social anxiety. Since you are not a shy person by nature, you can read these books and use what applies to you.


Seeing a counselor would be a good idea as well. You need the support and the counselor could help you deal with your feelings and offer stress reduction techniques to help you regain your life.


I believe you will do very well with the interventions I described above. You are reacting in a very healthy manner by reaching out for help and recognizing your reactions to the stress you have been through. I think with help, you will be feeling better very soon.


I hope this helped you,




Edited by Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC on 12/22/2010 at 12:14 AM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you so much, Kate. That is helpful. Those two things came into my mind. Some of your thoughts had crossed my mind. I have a couple more easy questions: What if I cannot, or do not have the capability of experiencing rest right now due to a travel schedule? Can you make any suggestions? Also would you suggest avoiding any other major life changes for a while? I am at a crossroads and may be relocating for work.


Also, I don't always feel anxiety in social situations. It's only with those with whom I have to chit chat or make small talk or when something is required of me socially. And it feels like deep sadness coupled with the things I described above.


Thank you and Merry Christmas! God bless you!

I understand what you are saying.


Resting is not the same as stress reduction. You need to take time each day to wind down and practice relaxation skills. Any form of stress reduction that appeals to you such as deep breathing, tightening then relaxing your muscles, yoga, finding a calm place and focusing on it, anything like that will help you center yourself and feel more calm. There is a saying in therapy that says your body never lies to you. What you are feeling is your body's way of telling you that you need to take some time to pay attention to yourself before your body breaks down.


If you feel that moving would benefit you, then do it. It will be additional stress, but it is a good kind of stress. Once you relocate, make sure you practice stress relief and take care of yourself well until you feel settled in.


You don't have to always feel anxiety in social situations or even feel it all the time. That is why I described it as mild and stress induced anxiety. With anxious feelings, there is often something in our minds that connects the situation we are in currently with the stress we experienced previously. That is probably what is happening for you. That is also why it is important to see a counselor. They can help you sort out what you are coping with and give you a definitive diagnosis so you can pick the treatment to help you the most.


Merry Christmas to you as well! Take care.


My best to you,



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