I actually posted this advice in the pre-med forum too, but since there was a lot of junk being posted in there I thought that I would post it here too. There are tons of people in med school being treated for different psychiatric conditions so you definitely would not be alone.
Most people in medical school test in personality tests as introverts, so if you are just introverted, you will fit in well in medical school. If you have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, you will be fine in medical school with some therapy and possibly medication. There have been doctors who graduated and went on to have successful careers with medical conditions that were easily as debilitating as social anxiety such as bipolar, chronic medical conditions, learning disabilities, etc. Ignore judgemental pre-meds who tell you that you won't be good enough. If you think about it, they will be the ones that are more likely to be poor doctors if they keep their attitude because part of being a good doc is helping other people and not being judgemental. Everyone has their own baggage, and just recognizing what obstacles you have to overcome is half the battle.
I'm definitely more worried about orientation and the social agenda than the academic work ahead. (Of course, I'll be eating my words soon enough.) I think your worries are normal. Just remember that we're all in the same boat. A lot of people you see who seem to not be anxious in fact are, and are just good actors instead.
It is definitely reassuring to know there are other people in the same boat. I am currently taking paxil, mostly for generalized anxiety, but I also have social anxiety. I, too, am dreading orientation.
I also wanted to add that the prevalence of mental diseases is higher in med students then the general population. I want to say that it's 2X higher, but I can't remember the exact number anymore. I remember dreading my orientation too. Don't worry, orientation comes and goes. Just remember that it's perfectly natural for you to take all of first year or more to start feeling like you fit in.
My psych teacher in medical school made this comment when she was teaching social anxiety that stood out to me (in between naps): several of you probably have social anxiety, it is pretty common in medical students.
So you're not alone. she also mentioned something about a website called social anxiety organization or institute or something like that that was good.
hmmm... Many levels of "social anxiety" exits. I have had patients that complain of not being able to start a stream when they are trying to pee at a urinal. My first question is "Can you pee in a stall with the door closed?". If the answer is yes, then the diagnosis is social anxiety. I suggest relaxation techniques (think of waterfalls) and if that fails, I suggest using the stall . These people have no problem holding down jobs, and I'll bet many would be perfectly good physicians.
If a person can't be around another person without losing it, then you might consider a more severe personality disorder. These people probably wouldn't be good physicians unless their problem was controlled.
I disagree that most med school students are introverted. We had a personality test seminar last year during M-I and was told that the national average is 60% extroverted. I believe that my school, MCV, is about 65% E.
I had to take a Myers-Brigs test during a pre-orientation program at Temple last month, and was also told that the majority of med students were extroverts. But I myself scored "very strong" on the introvert scale.