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any Med Students/Docs overcome Social Anxiety?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by jmejia, Jan 30, 2001.

  1. jmejia

    jmejia Junior Member

    Oct 27, 2000
    I'm a premedical student pretty much finished with my requirements. My stats are competitive and I think of myself as wellrounded with good extracurr. activites. Although I see myself functioning very well with patients because I've done so volunteering at clinics, I'm concerned that my social anxiety will not allow me success in medical school and thus as a physician. The extent of my social anxiety is not severe, I just simply function better in one-to-one situations and pretty much never studied in groups. Can an introvert succeed as a doctor?

    any feedback appreciated,
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  3. doctorpedro

    doctorpedro New Member

    Feb 1, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Oh boy, this is an easy one!!!
    I am a doctor already, so I hope I can still post here. Social Anxiety Disorder is very treatable, I see incredible results in my patients (Family Practice.) Run to your doctor, get started on an SSRI, (I write for celexa, less side effects, but prozac, paxil and zoloft work as well.) It takes 3-4 weeks to kick in, and you will be a star player on your hospital rounds!!!
    Make sure you get on meds before your med school interviews, so as to have your best shot at getting into a good school.
    good luck
  4. Djanaba

    Djanaba Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    May 4, 2000
    Minneapolis, MN
    Sorry, I can't hop on the pill-popping bandwagon. Meds are very helpful for many people, but drugs aren't the answer to everything.

    First off, I think it would help for you to see a psychologist or psychiatrist to see if you actually fit the diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder. Simply doing *better* individually isn't enough. If you are nonfunctional, or function with difficulty at best, when with more than a few people, then you meet more criteria (as compared to just what you wrote above.)

    Second, if it is as mild as you say, consider therapy instead of meds. Even for mild to moderate depression, therapy (especially cognitive/behavioral) has wonderful success rates and requires no drugs -- but it takes time, and some insurance balks at the number of sessions they pay for. But you learn how to cope: how to turn maladaptive behaviors into adaptive and successful ones, something drugs can't teach you.

    Either way, approaching the problem before interview time is a wonderful idea. Whether you and your doc figure out that meds or therapy is most appropriate, or both, rest assured that you CAN be successful. You've already taken the step to feel out the folks on this board; next step is to see a professional and go from there.
  5. Liquid_Tension

    Liquid_Tension Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2000
    New York
    Do not worry if you have social anxiety. I had this problem too before I started medical school. After several bong hits and a lot of liquor, amazingly enough, my social anxiety disappeared. So whenever you are feeling a little anxious or nervous, make friends with your friendly bottle of ethanol and enjoy yourself. Or roll a fat joint, and put some Pink Floyd into the stereo.
    -your most hallucinating Liquid
  6. Jacky

    Jacky Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2000
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Funny! You're kidding, right?
  7. Scooby

    Scooby Junior Member

    Sep 4, 1999
    I believe around 50-60% of medical students are introverts. Introspection allows one to better understand oneself, and in doing so, better enables them to understand others (in this case your patients). It is just a matter of feeling more comfortable with that idea! Superficiality, facades and the ?magic? pill can never take the place of compassion, caring, and genuine understanding.
  8. doctorpedro

    doctorpedro New Member

    Feb 1, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Not sure which type of cognitive/behavioral therapy is being cited here, I am unaware of any studies showing "wonderful" results with this type of therapy and Social Anxiety Disorder patients. A psychologist would give you non-pharmacological therapy only. Any physician in primary care will be able to prescribe appropriate medications, for many folks, visiting a "psychiatrist" tends to make them feel like they are really mentally ill, as the name "psychiatrist" is a bit stigmatized, so it can be a heavy experience for someone with a straightforward affective disorder. I refer to psychiatrists for severe depression, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective types.
    If this is severe enough to cause you distress and to consider career change, (and I get a sense that it is,) then you would benefit from a visit with your primary care provider, right away, to discuss pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches to finding relief. As far as the post with reference to bong hits and liquor, I don't think that will be a good approach if you need to function in medical school. For many impaired physicians, this approach is an unfortunate and sad reality.
    Hope this helps,

    [This message has been edited by doctorpedro (edited 02-05-2001).]
  9. DocHunter9

    DocHunter9 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2000
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    Put this in your "for what it's worth" file, but I recruited a Veterinarian into the Army who had a social anxiety disorder (he recieved a waiver for the condition from the recruiting surgeon general). When he went through the Officers Basic Course he was pretty much forced to participate as a TEAM member (probably for the first time in his life) and he credits this "forced" social interaction with effectively curing him of any anxieties around groups of people to the point that he now gives food inspection classes to 15-20 people at a time and supervises 6 military vet clinics in a three state region, all this in his first year in the Army.
    So, you ask, how does this relate to me? Well, there are plenty of places and opportunities where you can get mild and controlable exposure to groups of people. The first that comes to mind is Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a speaking club where people go to better their public speaking abilities and it consists of a group environment that involves giving and receiving constructive critism as well as overcoming the fear of speaking to groups.
    Hope it helps. If not, remember I didnt charge you the 2 cents it was worth.
  10. Kamikaze Dino

    Kamikaze Dino Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Feb 28, 2001
    The Great White North
    Many introverts suffer from various forms of social anxiety. They are usually better at forming an intellectual judgement, and might also have spent more time with books, or their thoughts than socializing with other people. They might lack social skills, but may be better doctors than their more congenial colleagues. Beware of doctors with excellent bedside manners. Same thing with co-workers. Have you noticed that, often, the nicest people tend to lack in competence? They protect themselves by being so lovable.
  11. jwpelley

    jwpelley Member 10+ Year Member

    Your introversion is not a liability in medicine, and in fact, it can be an asset. Introverts are unfairly stereotyped as aloof, uninterested, and even arrogant. The reality is that they are good listeners. They generally have a good capacity to maintain focus and think deeply, a valuable asset for diagnostics. They have an advantage academically since they can maintain focus for longer periods of time when studying.

    If you will visit my webpage and scroll down to readings in medical education, you will find two helpful articles on personality type and the practice of medicine. I think it will relieve your anxiety. If you get more interested in your own personality, you can take my Learning Styles Type Inidcator and get some insights on making better grades.

    By the way, extraverts may seem to have the advantage, but like all personality types they also have their blind spots. It is hard for them to think without dialogue, which is the way they think best, so lectures are very hard on them as well as solitary study. Many extraverts carry on conversations in their head during lecture just to be able to process the information, and many are relieved to find that this is normal.

    You can find my site at This is a non-commercial site and any commercial links are clearly identified.

    my best,

  12. Flightrail

    Flightrail Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2001
    san Jose
    I have volunteered and work with many people with anxiety disorders. The best way to cure anxiety is to face it. You do not need any drugs. That just masks the problem. I have seen people who couldn?t even leave their house because they would get a panic attack. These people are now working and going to social events they never thought possible. Face your fears and over time they will go away. There are tons of books out there about Anxiety. I suggest you read some you will learn a lot about the disorder. Good Luck

  13. doctorperez

    doctorperez Jesus was a dissident 10+ Year Member

    Dec 3, 2000
    Vice city
    Just to balance things out a bit...:

    Social anxiety disorders are very interesting in that what may work for one individual may not necessarily work for another . You will most likely , when asking opinions as to how to cure the disease , find two extremes to the spectrum of opinions . One extreme being drugs and the other cognitive/psychological therapy . As I always emphasize , in my criteria , all extremes are bad . To deny the efficacy of drugs or therapy on the account of the other would be unproductive .

    On another note , when someone ignores the nature of the illness as this nature is known to someone with the disease , or a specialized mental professional in the subject - It is easy to say that it may be cured by facing the phobia . Unlike other phobias , no documented literature exists to show that social phobia can be cured , treated or controlled by "facing it" . The reason why I reply to such comments is because such an oversimplification and underestimation of the efforts of those with this condition can often result in a negative effect to the individuals in question .

    Furthermore , I also feel that you should not let anyone misjudge your potentiality to become a physician because of your condition . Do as professionally advised so that you do shine at your interview rather than give the wrong impression to those who may misjudge you . Best Wishes .
  14. jeremiah

    jeremiah Junior Member

    Mar 4, 2001
    dakar, texas

    [This message has been edited by jeremiah (edited 03-17-2001).]
  15. Actually, both the CBT approach and pharmacotherapeutical interventions are appropriate. For anxiety disorders including social anxiety disorder, ocd, etc, CBT can be quite successful. It is important to remember as future docs though, that much of the research points to the serotinergic system in the acquisition of these disorders....The SSRI meds can be an excellent treatment for some...who may find that after a couple of weeks their symptoms disappear....why would anyone deny themselves this treatment if it were interfering in their life? Would you be against "pill-popping" if you had a biologically-based endocrinological disorder? Why would you deny yourself a biological intervention for an illness with its foundations in neurophysiology?

    I hope that the sufferer will take DrPedro's advice to go their couldn't hurt to get a professional opinion. It may be that CBT is the way to go for you...or maybe meds could help until the CBT therapy begins to help....

    CBT is based on the idea of exposure-response prevention....and the individual exposes him/herself to situations that he would feel anxious about over and over again...raising the bar when the anxiety has subsided...until eventually little anxiety is left......which kind of explains away the veterinarian in the military story....

    I think it is a bit dangerous to try and determine someone's mental state, by the way, based on a post...there were several people who stated that the poster sounded as if he were suffering from "mild" symptoms...without sitting with this person 1-on-1 and asking more questions...getting a thorough history, I would be afraid to make that kind of a blanket statement....
    hope this helps

    [This message has been edited by kmmath (edited March 22, 2001).]
  16. It is hard for them to think without dialogue, which is the way they think best, so lectures are very hard on them as well as solitary study. Many extraverts carry on conversations in their head during lecture just to be able to process the information, and many are relieved to find that this is normal.

    So you are telling me this is normal? I am 30 years old and have basically considered myself insane in that regards...I would have never uttered it to another person...I actually sometimes have to get up and leave lectures because I simply can't stand it anymore....I spend the entire time talking to myself about what the lecturer is saying or what I need to do for the rest of the day...To study alone...which I have to do now that I have children, I actually have to get up and pretend that I am teaching a class or something and "lecture" my children or dog on the topic...

    is this "normal"...hmmm...maybe I should change my username now that eveyone knows this...


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