Social Anxiety Disorder??

Lounge By CakesByJen2 Updated 24 Oct 2010 , 2:43pm by cabecakes

CakesByJen2 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 5:07pm
post #1 of 30

Does anyone have any experience in dealing with this, either themselves or another family member?

I am convinced my 15 yo daughter has developed this. She is very socially awkward and worries excessivly about what people think. She has a group of friends, but no best friend and I'm afraid she's going to end up alienating them with her lack of social/interpersonal skills, which can make her come across as being stuck-up and unfriendly.

She will not go up and talk to people, only if they come talk to her first, and when they are in a group she does very little talking and mostly just listens and laughs at what other people say. She will not make a phone call to anyone for any reason, and will only text if she really has to ask someone about something. She will not invite friends over because she is too worried about what they will think of our house or her room (we have a perfectly decent, typical 2-story house in a nice neighborhood), will not invite friends to join her when we go to the movies or other activities, never wants to have parties. On Facebook, she never posts anything on her wall or to anyone else, only reads what other people say.

I've been concerned for a while, and for a while she seemed to be coming out of it, but then regressed again. This is definitely beyond shyness; I was painfully shy at her age, but I still had my close friends I talked to and invited over, could make phone calls, understood that friendships required some give & take. We are considering counseling, but I know she won't be receptive to that idea, and it would be pointless if she won't cooperate and be honest with a therapist about her feelings & behavior...

29 replies
indydebi Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 5:43pm
post #2 of 30

fortunately or unfortunately, I'm right in the middle of this topic in my Psych class!!! (aka "I'm not a lawyer but I watch a lot of Law and Order!")

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia, interferes with normal activities. Pepole try to avoid situations in which they might be evaluated. even going to the grocery can be an ordeal as some feel that others are 'evaluating' what is in their grocery cart. It can lead to panic attacks, which perpetuates the social disorder as the person NOW has a fear of getting a panic attack in the middle of the grocery, giving them another reason to not to go the grocery (referred to as "avoidance"). This can also lead to agoraphobia, where people refuse to leave their home because they are so afraid of getting into a social situation where they can't "escape" (like being in line at the grocery store).

the 4 criteria looked for in evaluating this phobia (FYI, it's from what is called the "DSM-IV-TR"):

- Persisten fear triggered by exposure to unfamiliar people or social scrutiny.
- Exposure to the trigger leads to intense anxiety about being humiliated or embarrassed.
- The person recognizes the fear is unrealistic.
- Trigger situations are avoided or else endured with intense anxiety.

This disorder tends to start during adolescense when social interactions are important yet diffiucult (for anyone).

If it were my daughter, I would at least talk to a professional. Don't worry about her not cooperating .... a therapist who deals with this disorder hs dealt with that before and they know how to work with it. A lot of insurances have an EAP program. See if yours does.

Please don't take any of this as flat fact because I just happen to be in a class about it and I am in no way a professional or even have good experience with it. But I thought I would share what I know (which is more than I knew until recently!)

HTH even a llittle.

JaeRodriguez Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 5:52pm
post #3 of 30

I have anxiety, and I was the same way in high school.

In my situation it just got worse until I went to talk to my doctor about it, he put me on medicine for anxiety and then had to write me a prescription for Xanax for the panic attacks I was having. ( average 3 a day) I felt horrible. The medicine helped, and talking to a counselor about it.

Like Indy said- I knew the whole time my fears were ridiculous! But that almost made it worse because then I would get anxious thinking why can't I stop obsessing about something that stems from nothing!

I have heard that it can also be linked to OCD... not positive.

Anyway, I think your best bet is to see if she will talk to someone about it. I'm sorry you are going through this!

indydebi Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:07pm
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaeRodriguez

I have heard that it can also be linked to OCD... not positive.


yes it can. because there is a fear of being judged, some people will, for example, become obsessed with cleanliness or how they look or how organized their desk at work is. they will obsess with how many times they wash their hands or how perfect their make-up is, or how each pencil is lined up meticulously on their desk. It's part of the fear of scrutiny by others.

CakesByJen2 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 6:53pm
post #5 of 30

I've already been doing some research, which all seems to confirm my suspicions. I've done 3 different self-tests, answering as best I could for her, and they all said the same thing. She has many of the classic signs.

She's not as severe as some, as she does have friends and will socialize as long as it's someone inviting her, rather than the other way around. She hangs out with friends and has her lunch group she sits with, so she's not totally isolating herself by any means, but she will never call anyone on the phone, and never initiates conversation with anyone outside her closest circle of friends.

I cannot get her to understand that she can't always wait for people to talk to her, and that she has to reciprocate invitations if she wants to maintain her friendships. She refuses to believe that it matters that she never invites anyone over or to do anything, when they have invited her several times. She also doesn't believe that she comes across as totally unapproachable to people she's not already close to and comfortable with. If we go to a school function, she will sit with me unless her friends come and tell her to sit with them, especially if they are sitting with other people she's not close to. She is so afraid of intruding or being judged, and she really does not realize how irrational she is being.

JaeRodriguez Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 11:41pm
post #6 of 30

I was the same way! I wouldn't call anyone! Didn't matter if it was a friend or to order a pizza. I was terrified. I never ever would spend the night at any friends houses, though I did have friends over. I am usually assumed to be stuck up when people first meet me because I am so quiet but it had gotten to the point where I would worry until I was sick before I had to meet someone new. (boyfriends family for example) I was terrified people wouldn't like me. Even now I am afraid to answer the door if I don't know who is knocking (pizza man etc.) and I still get worked up over like walking my kids down the street because I get scared of what could happen.

I think I know what your daughter is going through, and it just got harder the longer I waited to address it. I dropped out of school at one point because they told me I had to do a public speaking class! (college).

Do you know if you're going to talk to her about it? I feel so bad for her having been in a similar situation! My heart goes out to her!

CakesByJen2 Posted 19 Oct 2010 , 11:59pm
post #7 of 30

Funny that you would have people over, but not go to other's houses. She is just the opposite. She worries so much about what people might think of her house, her room, etc. I pretty much forced her to have a sleepover 2 years ago, so all of her friends have already been here, anyway, and they all LOVED her party and the other moms say they still talk about it. You would think we lived in a dump on the wrong side of the tracks the way she acts.

She is fearless in other ways, is smart, an accomplished athlete, and would be pretty if she made any effort with her appearance, but because she thinks she's ugly, she doesn't even try. It all comes down to specifically being afraid of what people will think, of looking stupid, intrusive, etc. She tends to be very judgmental of others, so I guess she assumes everyone else is too. I try to tell her everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves to spend that much time scrutinizing her.

My husband and I have been discussing counseling, but that is pretty expensive, especially if she won't cooperate. We have talked about sitting her down and talking about it, and I've also though about meeting with a therapist by myself first to see what they have to say. I think the biggest obstacle is getting her to admit she has a problem, and it's not just a matter of being shy.

indydebi Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 12:05am
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakesByJen2

I think the biggest obstacle is getting her to admit she has a problem, and it's not just a matter of being shy.


i wouldn't wait for that to happen before seeking help. a good therapist can help her get to wherever she needs to be to get help for this.

have you checked with any united way agencies or income-based agencies?

CWR41 Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 12:18am
post #9 of 30

Her school can be a great resource to get a list of agencies that can help. The principal or counselor will know which ones on the list to recommend as "first choice" based on the experiences from parents and children who have greatly benefited from the assistance.

Jessymessy Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 1:10am
post #10 of 30

Please get your daughter some help! She needs counselling. Just don't let them put her on a bunch of antidepressants. I have dealt with anxiety issues my whole life. My heart really goes out to her!

All4Show Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 1:28am
post #11 of 30

My daughter was diagnosed with severe depression and social anxiety disorder when she was fifteen. We tried counseling at first because I, too was very anti-drug until she began to sink into paranoia. Every morning was a struggle to get out of be and go to school. She had a boyfriend who was mentally abusive and he had begun to strip her of every ounce of self-esteem. The psychiatrist finally put her on anti-depressants. She is now a fully functioning married mother of one. I thank God for the medication. This was the worst time in our lives. We never would have made it through all this as an intact family without the help of a good doctor and medication. Get your daughter some help. She was able to break-up with the boyfriend, graduate from college, get a good job and finally meet a young man who treats her wonderfully.

JaeRodriguez Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 1:34am
post #12 of 30

I agree, sometimes meds are needed. I was very wary of being put on meds for depression/anxiety because my family was VERY anti meds.

They said "it's all in your head... snap out of it... do you realize you're worrying about nothing... obsessing about nothing". The thing is I did realize that but I couldn't just make it stop. I got to the point where I couldn't even sleep, my BP was through the roof (I'm 23) and I lost 10 pounds because I was dealing with such severe anxiety. They put me on Lexapro and within a week I was able to cope, still having an average of 3 panic attacks a day but they prescribed Xanax and I have only used it around 5 times just while getting used to the Lexapro.

I will say that I didn't start having the debilitating anxiety and panic attacks until this year but I have struggled with anxiety and worry for my whole life.

Thank God I found a medicine that works for me. :] I really have had your daughter on my mind all day, I am praying you can find a solution.

PS- sometimes churches do discounted or free counseling if you talk to them about it.

indydebi Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 1:35am
post #13 of 30

i understand the concern about medications, but these disorders are affected by brain functions. A great activity in the amygdala portion of the brain can trigger fear more; a lower activity in the medial prefrontal cortex can also affect it; anxiety disorders are also related to poor functioning of the serotonin system and higher than normal levels of norepinephrine.

if medication can correct these physical issues that are causing malfunctions of the brain system, it is a good thing.

Please don't think of corrective medication of "oh they're just drugging her". that's not it at all. Sometimes it takes awhile to get the right balance, but working closely with the doctor to monitor the effects will help get the doses right. thumbs_up.gif

All4Show Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 1:37am
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

i understand the concern about medications, but these disorders are affected by brain functions. A great activity in the amygdala portion of the brain can trigger fear more; a lower activity in the medial prefrontal cortex can also affect it; anxiety disorders are also related to poor functioning of the serotonin system and higher than normal levels of norepinephrine.

if medication can correct these physical issues that are causing malfunctions of the brain system, it is a good thing.

Please don't think of corrective medication of "oh they're just drugging her". that's not it at all. Sometimes it takes awhile to get the right balance, but working closely with the doctor to monitor the effects will help get the doses right. thumbs_up.gif


I can only say "Amen".

cakesbycathy Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 2:30am
post #15 of 30

Is it possible that she has Asperger's rather than or in addition to social anxiety? People with Asperger's can also have very poor social skills. Perhaps it's a combination of the two?

Unlimited Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 6:40am
post #16 of 30

(the short version)
We had similar problems with our daughter when she was 17.

Her physician wanted to put her on an anti-depressantWhat?

If you read the manufacturer label and listen to the TV commercials, they state "not for under age 18" (or similar). We questioned the doctor's advicehe said he prescribes it for 8-10 year olds all the time!

Against our initial reaction, we decided to let her try it for that night (as prescribed)she said it was the worst night of her entire life; heart racing, couldn't sleep, scary, etc.
(never saw that doctor again, got a second opinion.)

Turns out that she had a thyroid condition (like cousin, aunt, and grandmother), problem solved with thyroid medication.

CakesByJen2 Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 12:35pm
post #17 of 30

Thanks for all the replies and sharing your personal stories. At this point I'm still undecided about how to proceed, whether to talk with my daughter first, or to find a counselor first and talk to them alone before I even broach the subject with my daughter.

At this point, it's not that bad. She's not anxious about going to school and has her group of friends and does socialize, but just within her comfort zone. She won't invite people over, talk on the phone, or initiate conversation with people she's not already close to, but it's not like she's afraid to leave the house or depressed. I just don't want it to get worse and I can forsee her having problems when she leaves for college (in 4 years) and has to start all over if she doesn't develop some confidence and social skills now.

leafO Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 4:10pm
post #18 of 30

The right balance of counseling and medication can be a great help. I was super shy at that age too, I did take medication, for a time, which helped and I think counseling would have helped me a lot too, but I refused to go. It took me a long time to work through it on my own, the medication helped me make a start, I don't think I would have been able to make that start without it's help. I think I would have been able to work though it a lot quicker if I had been willing to talk with someone also.

You said she is athletic, Perhaps it would help for her to do some martial arts classes. Aikido and Tai-chi are internal and defensive arts that are both good ones that focus more on personal growth and self awareness of your own energy. Aikido is great, you can use your own balance and the other person's momentum to easily subdue someone twice your size/strength with a filp of your wrist. It is very confidence building.

My best wishes for you and your daughter, you'll be in my prayers

neecerator Posted 20 Oct 2010 , 10:47pm
post #19 of 30

I would first get her a complete physical checkup with blood work.
Check thyroid like the other CC member stated.
Once physical is ruled out then check mental health issues next.
I will pray for your daughter and for you for wisdom and discernment for a proper diagnosis. icon_smile.gif

Kellbella Posted 21 Oct 2010 , 4:03am
post #20 of 30

I feel your pain and her pain too! I am affected by this also and it can be paralyzing sometimes. icon_cry.gif

Herekittykitty Posted 21 Oct 2010 , 10:22pm
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakesByJen2

Funny that you would have people over, but not go to other's houses. She is just the opposite. She worries so much about what people might think of her house, her room, etc. I pretty much forced her to have a sleepover 2 years ago, so all of her friends have already been here, anyway, and they all LOVED her party and the other moms say they still talk about it. You would think we lived in a dump on the wrong side of the tracks the way she acts.

She is fearless in other ways, is smart, an accomplished athlete, and would be pretty if she made any effort with her appearance, but because she thinks she's ugly, she doesn't even try. It all comes down to specifically being afraid of what people will think, of looking stupid, intrusive, etc. She tends to be very judgmental of others, so I guess she assumes everyone else is too. I try to tell her everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves to spend that much time scrutinizing her.

My husband and I have been discussing counseling, but that is pretty expensive, especially if she won't cooperate. We have talked about sitting her down and talking about it, and I've also though about meeting with a therapist by myself first to see what they have to say. I think the biggest obstacle is getting her to admit she has a problem, and it's not just a matter of being shy.




She is me, an introvert. I don't know how to respond to this w/o it sounding like it never got better.

I am still this way, to a point. College changed everything and I gained enough confidence to accept myself for who I am and say F-em to anyone who thinks it isn't good enough. If I don't like something about myself it'll change, otherwise it's not a problem - to me.

I'm still socially awkward - so what, I know how to deal with it in a way that makes me comfortable. I'll never be CEO or be front and center in public situatons (public recognition makes me want to crawl into a hole) but I am good at the behind the scene stuff and derive great satisfaction seeing something come off w/o a hitch b/c of me (even as simple as making sure my division gets a project done on time). I own my own home, have a successfull romantic relationship and a very very select few friends who know me well enough not to be offended when I don't keep in touch as well as I should. I'm a wallflower at parties but notice things others don't, I think this makes me a pretty good judge of character.

In college I began forcing myself to come out of my shell a bit and I still have to. I began taking partner dance lessons (ballroom, country, swing) to force myself to interact with others and LOVE dancing; but if I catch anyone watching me I will automatically want to run and hide for fear of judgement -even though I am pretty good at it.

Sigh. This is the third rendidtion and it still sounds bad, but really, even though I think I suck, life is ok.

You are a good Mom to be so in tune with your daughter that you notice and are worried. By all means, talk to a counselor about your cocerns. It could be nothing more than her personality which she will learn to deal with over time and gain confidence in herself socially; however it could also be more serious and require medical attention. One word of caution: If she is emotionally sensative, your "encouragement" could come across to her as not being good enough and undermine confidence, tread lightly.

Good Luck to your family.

costumeczar Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 12:24am
post #22 of 30

Okay, I DO have a master's in counselling psychology, so I can pipe in with a little experience from that perspective. I was also painfully shy when I was a kid, if that helps any.

Talk to your daughter first, to see if she thinks that she has a problem. Contrary to what it looks like, she might be totally comfortable with the way that she is. You need to make sure that you're not projecting your fears on her. From what you've said you're not saying that she's totally isolated, only that she prefers to be approached by other people. If she's okay with that, and she's not isolating herself, then she might be just fine. Some people aren't gregarious, that's just their personality.

If you want to talk to her pediatrician about it that wouldn't hurt, but just be careful about telling her that there's something wrong with her if she's perfectly happy with the way things are. Teenagers are notoriously difficult to do therapy with in the first place, and if she doesn't see any problem with the way that she is, and she's comfortable with it, there's no point in getting her treatment. The one thing that I'd be worried about from what you said is that she thinks that she's ugly, which indicates a lack of confidence...But again, most teenagers think that they're ugly.

My son is a loner type, he doesn't have friends over at all, and it used to worry me a little. He's perfectly well-adjusted FOR WHO HE IS, though. He's just the kind of person who gets all the social interaction he wants at school, and prefers to be alone otherwise. Not a big deal.

Talk to your daughter first, then decide if she thinks she'd like some help with social skills. If she's open to it then get her some counselling, or volunteer to model interactions with her to give her confidence to invite people over. She might just be afraid of being rejected, that doesn't equate to a personality disorder. If she says that she doesn't want to do that then tell her that you're open to it in the future if she wants to work on it at some point. DO NOT force her, though, and it might be good to ease up on her some. If you're worried about it she'll be able to sense it,and that isn't helpful in the long run.

costumeczar Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 12:30am
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herekittykitty

She is me, an introvert. I don't know how to respond to this w/o it sounding like it never got better. ...

One word of caution: If she is emotionally sensative, your "encouragement" could come across to her as not being good enough and undermine confidence, tread lightly.
.




You must have posted this while I was writing! Very well put, and I agree that shyness and introversion is something that you just have to either live with or force yourself to get over. Not that you "get over" it, but you do learn to live with it by changing behaviors.

Just remember that introversion isn't a medical disorder, and you did say that your daughter was active in things in school, which shows that she's not being affected in terms of restricting her activities.

CakesByJen2 Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 1:32am
post #24 of 30

It's not just that she's shy and introverted, though. I was shy & introverted, and this is something more than that. Her anxiety doesn't prevent from participating in some activites, but it prevents her from initiating anything. For example, she wants to go to the local haunted house, and knows it won't be any fun to go by herself. But instead of inviting some friends along, she is sitting around waiting for someone else to ask her. She says no one will want to go if *she* is the one planning it, which I know is totally untrue. Her fear of rejection holds her back, even though we are talking about her friends, not just random people.

I can see this is starting to affect her friendships, because she has been invited to almost everyone else's house on more than one occasion, yet she refuses to ever invite anyone over here. After a while people start to notice that you never reciprocate, and won't keep inviting you. I've also seen her friendships get strained at times because she reads too much into things and gets mad because she imagines she's been slighted. For example, so-and-so walked past her at school and didn't say "Hi", so they must be ignoring her and not like her anymore, when they really just didn't see her and she never said "Hi" to them, either.

costumeczar Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 1:56am
post #25 of 30

But is she not being invited places? Or are you just afraid that she won't be invited if she doesn't have people over? Teens aren't like adults, they tend to congregate at one person's house all the time and don't necessarily keep track of who's invited who where.

I'm not saying that she doesn' need help, but diagnosing a social anxiety disorder based on a lot of "I was shy" and quizzes isn't the best way to go. You need to deal with her as an individual. If she is really suffering then get her some counselling, but as long as she's involved with activities at school and isn't totally isolating herself it isn't a critical issue. Talk to her and see how she feels about it, but approach it as an "I" issue. Not "You are too shy" but "I am worried about you isolating yourself" and "I don't want you to suffer, so if you want some help with getting over the nervousness I can get some help." This sounds like more of a skills issue than a medical condition is all I'm saying.

Again, getting a diagnosis for anything on a board for people who don't know the entire situation isn't going to give you the most accurate results! Everyone brings their own biases and perceptions to a situation, youself included (you say that you were shy, so MAYBE you're reading more into it because you know how lousy it feels. That's human nature.)

Talk to your daughter about it, and see how she reacts. If she gets really unconfortable then you know you're on to something that might need addressing. If she acts like she has no idea what you're talking about then you can take your cues from that, maybe it doesn't bother her as much as it bothers you. You can always talk to her guidance counsellor at school or her teachers to see what they think, they might see behavior that you don't see and that might shed some light on the subject.

costumeczar Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 2:10am
post #26 of 30

Go talk to a professional if this is really bothering you. This isn't the place to get medical or psychological advice, and that also goes for getting it from me even though I have experience. Long-distance diagnosis/therapy isn't the best idea icon_rolleyes.gif

CakesByJen2 Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 3:14am
post #27 of 30

No, I certainly wasn't looking for a diagnosis, just wanted to hear other people's experiences.

Herekittykitty Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 2:47pm
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakesByJen2

It's not just that she's shy and introverted, though. I was shy & introverted, and this is something more than that. Her anxiety doesn't prevent from participating in some activites, but it prevents her from initiating anything. For example, she wants to go to the local haunted house, and knows it won't be any fun to go by herself. But instead of inviting some friends along, she is sitting around waiting for someone else to ask her. She says no one will want to go if *she* is the one planning it, which I know is totally untrue. Her fear of rejection holds her back, even though we are talking about her friends, not just random people.

I can see this is starting to affect her friendships, because she has been invited to almost everyone else's house on more than one occasion, yet she refuses to ever invite anyone over here. After a while people start to notice that you never reciprocate, and won't keep inviting you. I've also seen her friendships get strained at times because she reads too much into things and gets mad because she imagines she's been slighted. For example, so-and-so walked past her at school and didn't say "Hi", so they must be ignoring her and not like her anymore, when they really just didn't see her and she never said "Hi" to them, either.




Seriously, Mom? Is that you? In my 30's and still think this way, on both counts. It's just part of my personality. The fear of rejection is something she should probably work on, there are things I regret (my career) b/c of this fear but it can't be forced on her; the more you push the less she will respond. Does she seem to have a passive resistance to authority or get defensive when you 'help' her? If so it's probably because she doesn't think there is anything wrong with the way she is and dislikes it when people try to change her.

That said, I have realized that both of these things hold me back and am actively working on changing these aspects of my personality, it began in college and continues today. My friends & family accept that we are going to go weeks/months without talking but that we are still friends & family. Precieved slights are still precieved but I get over them more quickly now; however I can hold a grudge like nobody's business! icon_biggrin.gif

Oh, Costumeczar - What you said, very nicely put!

luvmysmoother Posted 22 Oct 2010 , 3:06pm
post #29 of 30

I've been there done that and know others in the same situation too. While it's commendable that you are a fantastic parent and concerned for your kid - I have a good friend who had parents who did everything they could (including doctors) to help their kid and I don't know - but it seems that her disorder has become the primary focus in her life - she's taking enough anti-anxietants to fall an elephant and can barely function at work never mind having an active social life. I never received help at all (my parents were the opposite - didn't bother at all to try to help) and I had to take the initiative, forcing doctors to prescribe anti-anxiety meds (as an adult) and they literally saved my life (doctors just looking at me automatically think I'm a hyprochondriac - one on one I appear perfectly normal) I'm still not comfy in large groups (probably never will be) but it's a real crap shoot whether drugs/therapy/etc actually help or hurt. But for sure - if you let her know you really care and try your best to work with her and maybe in the beginning just push (but not force) her out of her shell it should be helpful. It seems like social rather than athletic or intellectual skills are more valued nowadays...

cabecakes Posted 24 Oct 2010 , 2:43pm
post #30 of 30

It could be that she enjoys her "quiet time" more then she does her "social time". If she is as active in school as you say, she could just enjoy "winding down". My kids seldom have kids over, but they go to other's homes. They are active in school, even work, but when they are at home they don't call or text friends. They liked time to wind down from the days activities. Maybe you just see a little of your younger shy self in your daughter and are afraid she is lonely for attention, but the case really is she just wants a little peace and quiet.

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