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'I Have A Severe Phobia—Here's What It's Like'

Krissy Brady deipnophobia story
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF KRISSY BRADY

As soon as we sat down to dinner, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. My friends and I were grabbing a bite before heading to a Stone Temple Pilots concert. I ordered a steak salad (with a side of beer to calm my nerves). The restaurant was loud, my friends were louder. The nausea grew, but I kept eating, kept talking, kept acting like I was fine. I wasn't fine.

My stomach felt like it was in a vice. My throat went dry. I started to sweat and I struggled to catch my breath. I quickly headed to the bathroom, where I locked myself in a stall. Deep breaths, deep breaths. As soon as I could bear it, I rushed back to the table, where my friends were picking up the check. Finally, dinner was over. I'd made it.

For those of us with deipnophobia—a fear of dining and dinner conversations—literally anything is more pleasant than a meal with friends.

Watch a doctor explain whether your anxiety is serious:

Ask a Hot Doc: Is My Anxiety Serious?
Ask a Hot Doc: Is My Anxiety Serious?

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My First Symptoms

 

Deipnophobia typically manifests in one of two ways: as a type of social anxiety or as a specific phobia, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “If the situation (in this case, dining with others) is feared because of negative evaluation by others, it would be considered a social anxiety disorder,” says Cecelia Mylett, Psy.D., clinical director of CAST Centers, a mental health and substance use disorder treatment center in West Hollywood. “Otherwise, deipnophobia would be considered a specific phobia—a significant fear of a certain object or situation.”