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Do I have social anxiety?

Hi Sam,
please help me I feel like I'm the only teenager that feels like this. I'm a 15 year old girl and I think I have social anxiety. I constantly feel nurvouse and panicky I can't walk from one lesson to the next without worrying what people think of me, I can't talk to anyone about this because they will think I'm a freak. It's like I have too personalities when I'm with my friends and family and when I'm alone, it's so frustrating because when I'm with my friends I'm okay on the outside and go along with everything but in the inside im scared/nurvouse/anxious as to what people think about me it's taking over my life I don't do pe anymore because I feel like everyone's judging me, I can't eat in front of people. When someone talks to me face to face I get all freaked out and start fidgeting with my hands and stuff because im just so nurvouse is this normal please help :(
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Sam

Hi there,

Thank you for your letter and well done for writing in to get some support. You’ve told me that you feel nervous and panicky all the time and I can hear that this is really affecting you at the moment. A lot of young people have times when they feel particularly self-conscious, but from what you’ve said, you‘re so nervous that it’s stopping you from living your life the way you’d like to. That seems unfair, and you deserve to get some support with this.

I’m wondering if you can remember when you started to feel like this and whether there was anything that might have triggered it. Maybe talking it through with a friend or family member might help you work out what’s behind these nervous feelings. It might also be helpful for you to think about times when you do feel confident now or have done so in the past. See if you can figure out what it is about those situations that makes you feel more at ease.

One way to feel less nervous about something you find scary is to keep practicing it, although I know that can be hard! Have a look at the Anxiety and Self-Esteem pages in Explore. There are plenty of tips there for coping with anxiety and building self-confidence that might help you out.

You say that you feel like you have social anxiety. That’s a common type of anxiety, but it’s something that only a GP or health professional could officially diagnose. Perhaps it might be worth thinking about making an appointment with your GP, or speaking to your school nurse. At 15, you have the right to go and see your doctor by yourself if you want to. They might suggest some things you could do yourself to try and improve your confidence. It might be that they can refer you to counselling or to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health service) for some extra support. The Young Minds website has got some useful information about getting help with anxiety.

It might be helpful for you to take a look at the messageboards to read about other people having similar worries to you. You can also see the advice that other young people have posted. I know that you say that you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about this because they will think that you are a freak, but the way you feel is not as unusual as you might think. Remember, there is always someone here for you to talk to at Childline. You can call the counsellors on 0800 1111 or log in for a 1-2-1 chat.

Take care,

Sam

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