Anxiety may be part of a chain of possible causes. Like dominoes falling, one problem causes another. Anxiety’s place on the chain varies from person to person and getting the root of the problem is of utmost importance.
Our medical system seems to view anxiety as being at the very beginning of the chain that causes a myriad of other symptoms such as depression. At least that’s the way it is treated, regardless of what other medical knowledge might be in place.
In most cases, doctors have to provide you with a diagnosis before insurance will pay for the medication doctors prescribe. For that reason, there may be a tendency to over-diagnose and prescribe pills.
The American Medical System is capable of miracles. Heart and brain surgery is nothing less than miraculous. Our medical system excels at treating trauma. If you break a limb or are otherwise badly injured, the treatments available can get make you like-new again.
~ Dr. T. Colin Campbell, ‘Forks Over knives’
However, our medical system is built around insurance and billing not patient well-being; with high financial incentive for doctors to prescribe lucrative drugs.
So what about well-being? What do we have in place to help us live well? If you have a mood disorder, in most cases you are immediately prescribed a pill. There doesn’t seem to be much conversation around your habits, such as self-talk, diet or stress coping skills.
A Different Way to Look at Anxiety
Anxiety may not be the root cause. Rather it is a symptom of some other underlying problem which then, intern, causes additional complications such as depression and more anxiety.
There could be an underlying condition > which then causes maladaptive behavior > which causes social rejection > which in turn causes anxiety about further rejection. That can lead to Social Withdrawal > which can cause Depression.
A doctor is likely to only treat the anxiety and depression without addressing any underlying cause. The first step in patient treatment is to prescribe psychoactive drugs that greatly alter the chemistry of your brain, sometimes permanently.
An Underlying Condition can mean many different things and is different for everyone. It could be an actual disorder or it could simply be circumstances that you are or were subject to.
The Story of a Man Lost in the System
In the case of one man with S.A., he had a complex mix of several different Underlying Conditions that caused his social anxiety. He was born dyslexic and later had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder though his dyslexia was never diagnosed in childhood.
His parents had both been victims of child abuse and were very short tempered people. He often daydreamed and was very imaginative. They did not understand why their son couldn’t do his homework and it was assumed that he was lazy and careless.
They became cruel to him, telling him that he was worthless and often beating him harshly. By the time he was ten, he suffered severe social rejection. He had no friends and he was getting very poor grades in school. His parents, thinking that maybe he was mentally challenged took him to get his IQ tested. His score came back as an outlier. His intelligence was way above average according to the test. After that, his parents became even more cruel. Sighting that there was no excuse. He was perfectly capable of doing his work.
All through his school years while other children where testing their limits and learning what they were capable of, he was learning what he was not capable of and being put down by parents, teachers and other children. That, as one might imagine, had serious consequences on his confidence level.
To this day, he still gets nervous for no apparent reason when around people. He was never diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. He spent his whole youth being put down by others because he could not perform. Over time, he developed and irrational fear of being around people; a phobia.
Later in his adult life he was diagnosed properly with Dyslexia. The man said that the diagnosis made his whole life’s history make sense. Why work was so stressful, why others constantly made him feel stupid and why no matter what he tried, he could not raise his self-confidence.
Now that he better understands the complex cause of his anxiety, it made it easier for him to move on with his life. He wasn’t stupid or lazy or careless. He simply had a very different way of thinking and learning.
An Underlying Condition does not Have to be a Disorder
In the case of many people who live with S.A., they have no disorders at all. There’s nothing wrong with them. What seems to happen for many people is that their values simply don’t seem to align with society’s. They might be more old fashion, more progressive or simply have different ideas.
If you don’t like football, can’t name a single pop artist on the top 20 or don’t keep up with the latest TV shows, you might not be very into the conversations that you hear on a daily basis. When people try to relate to you, they might ask you questions about said topics which you could care less about. It can be very difficult to fake interest in a football game if you’ve never sat down and watched one.
The possibilities are endless for what might be the underlying cause of an individual’s Social Anxiety. Stay focused and pay attention to how you feel and what your triggers are. With time and patience it is possible to uncover the root cause and start to feel better.