Do you suffer from anxiety attacks and depression? If you feel that you are, fear not for you are not alone. Millions of people all around the world have experienced what you've been through or what you're going through. Even celebrities and people who seem to have everything - money, fame, power - struggle with anxiety and depression at some point in their lives.
Kim Basinger is one of the many celebrities who battled with social anxiety. Born in Athens, Georgia on December 8, 1953, Basinger won the Georgia Junior Miss Pageant at the age of 16 and moved on to the National competition in New York. After a brief stint as a successful model, Basinger decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being an actress. She won Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars in 1997 for her film LA Confidential. Kim was married and divorced twice, first to Ron Britton, second to actor Alec Baldwin, with whom she has a daughter.
Anxiety from an early age
Kim's parents had her tested as a child for autism and/or other psychiatric disorders due to her being so withdrawn. The test results were inconclusive. Kim's worst fear while growing up was reading aloud in class that it reached a point when her teachers thought she was experiencing a nervous breakdown. When she accepted her award at the Oscars, she couldn't even speak even when she practiced her acceptance speech days beforehand.
Panic: A Film About Coping
In the HBO produced film Panic: A Film About Coping, Kim has been open about her struggles with her social anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. She reveals that she has received professional psychological therapy for her disorder but that she still remains shy and vulnerable to panic attacks and agoraphobia.
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder tend to have an irrational fear of being constantly watched, judged or evaluated and they greatly fear humiliating or embarrassing themselves or finding themselves in embarrassing situations. Their anxiety and level of discomfort becomes so grave that it interferes with how they function on a daily basis. Social anxiety disorder or SAD is one of the most common types of mental disorders. Thirteen percent of the general population experience symptoms of SAD at some point in their lives. However with proper diagnosis and treatment, the symptoms of SAD can be controlled and the quality of life can vastly improve.
There is a significant difference between feeling normally shy and having SAD and it depends on the symptoms' gravity and persistence that a person experiences. People who have SAD generally present emotional and physical symptoms. The emotional symptoms have been mentioned in the previous paragraph. The physical symptoms include blushing, excessive sweating, muscle tension, tremors, increased heart rate or palpitations.
Treatment for Social Anxiety
People who have SAD recognize that their fear is irrational and is out of proportional to the situation they find themselves in. However, they are unable to control their anxiety. Their anxiety can either be classified as specific SAD, wherein their feelings of anxiety is specific to one type of social situation or it may be classified as generalized SAD wherein they experience anxiety in all types of situations. Common triggers of SAD include making direct eye contact, interacting with strangers and initiating conversations.
SAD usually begins around the adolescent years, although it may also start during childhood. The general belief is that SAD results from a combination of several factors, both environmental and genetic. As SAD tends to run in families, researchers believe that the underlying cause of SAD is most likely genetic. An imbalance in brain chemistry has been linked to the disorder, such as an imbalance in serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates emotions and mood and plays a role in the development of the disorder. Using medication in order to treat SAD indicates a necessity for regulating brain chemicals.
Environmental factors may also play a role in increasing your risk of developing this type of mental disorder. Factors such as having a controlling or protective parent, having experienced being bullied as a child, sexual abuse and family conflicts.
There are two available treatment options for people who have SAD: medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Oftentimes, health professionals use these two types of treatments simultaneously for optimal results.
Cognitive behavioral therapy entails exposure of the patient with SAD to situations that trigger the disorder in order to develop their confidence, cognitive restructuring that serves to alter maladaptive thought patterns which greatly contributes to the symptoms of SAD, and social skills training which helps those people who lack certain social skills.
The first line of treatment for people with SAD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, more commonly known as SSRIs. Some people may notice an improvement in their symptoms after a short period of treatment, while others need to medicate continuously in order to avoid relapses.