Dr. Shannon answers the Heartland’s mental health questions

Heartland Mental Health Questions: Ask Dr. Shannon
Published: Oct. 22, 2023 at 8:40 AM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Dr. Shannon Cubria Farris is a clinical psychologist. He will be a guest on The Breakfast Show on Sunday mornings, answering viewers’ questions about mental health.

You can join in the conversation by submitting anonymous questions here.

This week, Dr. Shannon answers a question from a viewer about anxiety. The viewer asked “I don’t like to be in large crowds is this normal? I get nervous around large crowds, and it causes anxiety.”

Dr. Shannon says people with social anxiety may experience physical symptoms:

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Rigid body posture, making little eye contact, or speaking with an overly soft voice

“The psychological symptoms may be largely invisible to others, but they are serious and have the ability to derail someone’s life,” Dr. Shannon said.

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Avoiding social situations
  • Extreme and irrational anxiety
  • Severe fear of judgement and rejection
  • Intense feelings of self-consciousness
  • Wanting to talk to others, but experiencing difficulty and fear

“Without treatment, these symptoms can fester into significant problems. Difficulties communicating and connecting with others can mean lost opportunities,” Dr. Shannon said.

Examples of complications arising from social anxiety may include:

  • Fear of interviewing can hinder professional growth
  • Anxiety about meeting new people can lead to isolation
  • Avoidance of social situations can result in someone confining themselves at home all the time
  • Alcohol and other substances may be used to self-medicate, creating further mental health and relationship issues
  • Depression and self-harm or suicidality can result

Dr. Shannon recommends a few things you can do at home to help with this.

The first, identify your triggers.

“What, when, where, how your body reacts in situations. This will help you determine what tools will be needed and where to use them,” Dr. Shannon said.

He also says noise cancelling headphones could be a good option.

“Sensory overload can contribute to panic attacks in public. If you know that you’re going to be somewhere with lots of sounds and sights and smells, make sure you’re armed with a pair of headphones, your listen-along meditations, and perhaps that podcast you’ve been obsessed with recently,” Dr. Shannon said.

And when you need a moment to ground yourself, he recommends using visualization techniques. One way is to identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Mental health affects everyone, whether it’s directly or indirectly. It affects friends, family members, co-workers, and other people in your life. According to Dr. Shannon, you don’t have true health until you have your mental health. Dr. Shannon’s goal is to work together with people and create a safe space to talk about mental health in a way that truly matters.

Dr. Shannon can answer questions about mental illness, dealing with mental illness, working with your children or family members and more. If Dr. Shannon doesn’t have all of the answers, he will find an expert who will be able to answer you.

He hopes these conversations about mental health can lend themselves to a little bit more understanding of what might be going on. He wants the Heartland to lean in with curiosity about situations, especially when it’s uncomfortable.