Hey everyone. I figured this would be a good place to try to get a confirmation on a self diagnosis of anxiety and maybe get some help figuring out what to do from here. Heres some background. I'm 21 years old, male, and I've recently decided to go back to school for a business course. When I was younger I was homeschooled by my mother until the 8th grade. I can't remember any particular incidents of crippling anxiety before then, so it seems to me it started right around when I entered the public school system.
Heres a few examples of when it hit me and how I started feeling... Grade 8: My English teachers liked to make students read outloud to the class a few paragraphs each of a book that we're all reading together, and they would go through the class up and down the rows in sequence. I am perfectly confident in my ability to read and my ability to read out loud, but as soon as it would start to approach me (2 or 3 students away) my heart rate would rise noticeably, it feels like it doubles or worse, and pump significantly harder. I can feel it in my chest, face, and head, and hear it in my ears. When it finally came my turn to read, I would barely be able to sit still, my hands are shaking and twitching uncomfortably and uncontrollably, and when I read my voice would be shaking too, including stuttering and involuntary swallowing. By the end of my turn I can hardly concentrate on anything other than my ears burning and my heart racing, and I feel like everyone has taken notice of my nervousness, which was probably true.
At the time I didn't feel like that was unusual, I attributed it to shyness and general performance nervousness and figured it was a problem everyone had to learn to overcome. Fast forward 5 years through school and into the professional working world: Team meetings, the task was simple, go around the table and everyone just has to say their name and say something quick about themselves. I already know that this type of thing will set me off, so I plan ahead, write down exactly what I want to say so I don't have to think when it comes crunch time. I try meditation and breathing exercises to keep my heart rate down, but regardless, when it comes to the person next to me, my heart rate tripples again and I lose all concentration, just trying to say my name I stutter a few times before finally uncomfortably forcing out what I had written down. After its finally over I still continue to twitch and feel uncomfortable for a good 10 - 20 minutes afterwards and can't concentrate at all on what the others are saying. It seems like no ammount of deep breathing and holding my breath will lower my heart rate back to normal any sooner.
So now here I am in business school, and it turns out oral presentations and group work are a daily norm here, so here I am twitching, stuttering, and feeling nervous and uncomfortable multiple times a day. After years of just trying to confront these situations and work through them I'm not feeling like I've made any progress, so I'm considering turning to drugs to calm me down. What do you guys think? Is this an anxiety disorder? Would you consider these to be panic attacks? I've done some looking around on the internet but I'm having trouble finding a condition that specifically fits the kind of attacks I'm feeling. Any feedback is appreciated, what do you think I should do?