Jayshree, 21, was just about to embark on her professional career. Despite doing extremely well academically, she was still finding it hard to find a job.
Jayshree had always seemed shy. Growing up, through school and college, she had virtually no friends. She avoided all situations that required interaction with people. At family events and other functions, she could be found hiding in the bathroom, feeling sick. When introduced to people she would often stutter. When talking to people she spoke sparingly and when she did, she couldn’t make eye contact and stared at the floor.
Her social anxiety worsened over time; and was at its worst when she had to go for job interviews. Often she suffered panic attacks while in the waiting room and was unable to go through with the interview. For someone as bright and academically gifted as she was, this was starting to be really annoying. It was only after she fainted during a particularly high profile interview that she decided to see if there was any medical reason for her behaviour.
In the first meeting, the psychiatrist took a detailed history. As a young girl, she often felt inadequate about herself as she was the smallest in her class and was rarely picked for any games. With time these feelings of inadequacy festered to the point where it became part of her self- identity. As the awkward teenage years came around, these feelings became even more pronounced, especially when around members of the opposite gender. All the while she took comfort in her books and studies, enforcing the stereotype that she was a shy studious girl. There came a point in her life when she wanted to interact with her peers, but was unable to do so. Her social anxiety manifested itself in physical symptoms as well, starting with sweaty palms and leading to excessive sweating, overall making appearance in public even more difficult.
She was treated with a combination of medication and cognitive behaviour Therapy (CBT). As the treatment progressed, she was able to realize that her social anxiety stemmed from her distorted perception of herself. All her feelings of inadequacy were based on irrational thinking that had become habitual. She could tell herself that she was in no way better or worse than anyone, at anything.
Over time she was able to significantly overcome her initial anxiety about facing people. She was slowly able to participate in numerous social scenarios. Finally, she was even able to enjoy interacting with people around her, much the same as they enjoyed interacting with her. Having overcome her fear of social interactions, she was able to successfully attend several interviews, one of which resulted in her finding a job that was suitable for her talents and that she enjoyed doing.
Please note that the information in this case study should not be considered as medical advice for an individual’s condition. If anyone shows or feel symptoms of a possible medical condition, we strongly encourage you to seek advice from your primary physician or a mental health professional for an evaluation as soon as possible.
The names been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.