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How do I manage anxiety?

Q: I am a 21 years old undergraduate female student suffering from a dilemma for the last three years. During my first year of graduation I had a boyfriend but due some problem we broke up and then he took revenge on me. He threatened me, posted all rubbish about me on the social networking websites and called my family, relatives, friends and neighbours saying how much he loved me. I have studied throughout in a girls’ schools and am shy by nature. After this incident I was traumatised and became completely quite, preferred only girls as a friend and stopped going outside the house. After realising my condition after two years I tried to overcome it. I engaged myself in studies and enrolled in tution for higher studies so that I can spend maximum time outside the house. It has been six months since I have started moving out. But I still fear meeting new people, making friends and communicating with them. My mind goes blank while talking to them. I have nobody in my family and friends to help me. I am left completely alone and forsaken. I cannot live anymore with this kind of problem and want to recover from it anyhow. My home environment is not helping me to come out of it but I won’t give up as during the last six months my condition has improved by 60%. Moreover, I have noticed that while communicating with people with a low profile I hardly face any problem but the situation become worse when I have to talk to strangers and high profile people. I have a family history of depression. Is it possible that this disease is genetically transferred to me? I do not have any sleeping problem and sleep for around 8-10 hours daily. Please advise.

A:Trauma, especially chronic trauma can lead to several emotional and physical disturbances. Specifically mood and anxiety disturbances as well as disorders like hypertension, diabetes, etc. The most healthy way to deal with any kind of trauma as and when it occurs is having a support network which will help you to freely express your concerns, fears, anxiety related to trauma and your ability to express your self freely. Often the lack of such help during the trauma and the period following it may lead to other emotional problems. Common among these are anxiety and mood disorders. Some of the common anxiety and mood disorders include panic disorders, social anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, etc.

From your description, it seems like you may be suffering from a type of anxiety disorder. It is difficulty to diagnose as to what type of anxiety disorder it is based just on the description. To be diagnosed properly, you will need to see a psychiatrist who can evaluate you thoroughly to come up with a proper diagnosis, which may be necessary to begin appropriate treatment. However, there are several self help books (based on type of cognitive behavioural therapy approach), which may help in general for anxiety (in your case more so as it is social anxiety), which you may be able to search on line for description and/or possibly buy in your local bookshops. You can use terms such as anxiety, social anxiety to search for the possible books. Just knowing more about unwanted/excessive anxiety problems in general may also help you.

In addition, it may help if you have a close friend or family member whom you can trust and thus can express your concerns and fears. In some cases if the anxiety is severe and debilitating, then medications are the best options. Most of the newer medications for anxiety and mood disorders are not addictive and have fewer side effects than the older medications.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that you see a psychiatrist for a comprehensive evaluation with whom you can discuss further about the treatment options.

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