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Anxiety and perceived loss of motor control
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limeylady80 posted:
I have had mild to moderate social anxiety for many years but, lately, a disturbing physiological accompaniment to this has been occurring.

When I am in a restaurant or in public, I cannot pick up a full glass of anything without my hand going into major tremors. I get a sharp jolt at the back of my neck strong enough to make me flinch and it prevents me from further attempts at drinking my beverage (this has happened with other items too, weight is not a determining factor) until I have calmed down.

I'd like to know if this is anxiety-related or something else. I really want to get past this so it doesn't limit my life.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Since you indicated that this is happening in public restaurants, it would seem that it is the anxiety you're experiencing in that environment that is giving you this problem. It may also be that you are becoming very tense and that may be what is causing the problem with your neck but this needs to be checked out with your physician.

Probably one of the best things that you can begin to do for yourself is to prepare for going into this type of an environment. By that I mean to practice at home some specific techniques that may help you to calm yourself when you go to a restaurant and that will help with the tremors you experience.

Visualization can be a very useful technique and what you do is envision yourself in this situation, imagine how you feel and then begin to use another technique we have, relaxation breathing. If you have never used relaxation breathing, please refer to our Tips column where we have a video tutorial I made which will teach you how to do this. You can learn it within a matter of minutes and you can be using it immediately at any time of the day or night when you begin to feel just a bit anxious. Remember to use it before you become overcome by anxiety because what you want to do is to cut the anxiety off.

If the anxiety begins to take hold, it can be a bit more difficult for the breathing technique to work well. But it can still work and I would encourage you to use it whenever you think it might be helpful. Something else which you should begin to do on a regular basis, also, is mild exercise. Please discuss this with your physician. We do have a number of simple exercises that you can do even in your kitchen and I would refer you to my website's Video page. It's http://www.drfarrell.net and there are even exercises that you can do while seated in a chair.

I hope you find some of this helpful and that things do improve for you very soon.
 
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limeylady80 replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
Sorry for the delayed response, but I cannot tell you how relieving it is to have a professional restate what I believed was happening. My colleagues and I work with mental imagery for comprehension and have recently been researching its use in conditioning anxiety responses like this.

Thank you again. I've seen some improvement, though not completely so.


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