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Q: I get so anxious before parties that I often end up staying home instead. What can I do?
A: While it's normal to feel a little shy or nervous before entering a roomful of people, it sounds like you may be struggling with social anxiety disorder, which affects about 15 million American adults. People with social phobia feel intensely afraid of being negatively judged, and so tend to avoid mingling altogether. You may also have panic-attack-like symptoms, such as sweating, heart palpitations, or chest pain. This disorder can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves mental strategies and relaxation techniques that help you conquer your fears.
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From the December 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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