Amarillo experiences rise of social anxiety as Texas reopens

VIDEO: Increase of people in Amarillo experiencing social anxiety

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Northwest Texas Hospital is seeing an increase in people with social anxiety as Texas starts to reopen with no masks.

It’s easy for people to turn off their cameras on a Zoom call or put down their phones at home to be able to exit situations, whereas in-person, people don’t necessarily have those scapegoats they relied on heavily throughout the pandemic.

As many start returning back to work, school and social settings in person, health professionals in Amarillo have seen an increase in the average person experiencing social anxiety. They are seeing more people who may have avoided seeking help before the pandemic, now getting the help they need as many are adjusting back to normal settings.

“I think we’ve seen an increase in just your average everyday person dealing with a whole new set of stressors that you know, quite frankly we’re learning how to deal with as we go,” said Jordan Campbell, unit therapist at Northwest Texas Healthcare System.

“Especially if you weren’t doing well mentally, you probably use those things a lot more than you would have normally. And so, I think, again I think it is going to be different for everybody but I definitely think people have leaned a lot on the outs maybe that we’ve been able to have, rather than actually having to work through it and be tolerant,” said Lacey Neff, Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) at Northwest Texas Healthcare System.

A Psychiatry professor at Texas Tech says people have learned different skill sets while working from home.

For a year now, people have adapted to less human interaction and more media-based interaction with people.

“A lot of them develop a different skill set how to interact with their clients over Zoom which is a very different skill set. Now they have to go out and re-practice the social skill set and human interaction. So defiantly there is going to be anxiety because it is all starting back up again and you have to re-do it. So that’s why we are seeing a bump in anxiety,” Priya Kodi, M.D., Fellow, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Department of Psychiatry (Permian Basin).

Dr. Kodi says some methods you can use to cope with the anxiety is visualize your interactions beforehand, practice breathing exercises and meditation.

She says the best thing to do is to start interacting with people again.

“I think it’s going to require a lot of adjustment and I think it is going to kind of shift the way people approach their jobs in general because they’ve been forced to find new ways to do their tasks from home,” said Campbell.

Some signs and symptoms to look out for include fidgeting, feeling nauseous, sweaty or flustered; having a hard time concentrating, feeling panicked, can’t focus or complete tasks, have hard time articulating thoughts or have a short temper.

Northwest Texas Hospital offers Mental Health Assessments 24/7. You can call anytime to schedule an assessment at (800) 537-2585 or (806) 354-1810.

To learn more about Northwest Texas Healthcare System Behavioral Health, click here.

If interested in the Behavioral Health services the hospital provides, click here.

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