My anxiety keeps me from going out to places to just have fun, but I can somehow tolerate work. I don't know why, and I work in a police precinct as a civilian with a good amount of responsibility. If I lose my job because I cannot go, then I will lack insurance to treat myself. I force myself and my mind seems to mold around what I push back into my comfort zone. I used to love going to bars and having fun, but since my last birthday (Last July) -- well, not ON my birthday, but around that time -- it has been VERY hard for me to go out and see friends. I finally mustered up the courage to go to a fire at a friends house a couple of weeks ago, so I am making progress.
I also was an active firefighter, and my anxiety got so bad that I am now on medical leave. It's volunteer, so it's whatever... But I used to be able to handle incredibly high stress situations and be fine. A couple of years ago I fought a wildfire for over 12 hours straight and I was fine. Tired, but not anxious. Now I go to the supermarket and I feel light-headed. See how things can change? But I am continuously trying to push myself to push my comfort zone out again.
As for medicine, Xanax has been a God send. I don't suggest it for long term use (Anti-depressants and such stay in the body much longer and work better for long term treatment), it's great for when you're starting on new medicine and the effects haven't started kicking in yet. I take the smallest dose at .25mg and that's enough to even me out. I also have Propranolol (10mg, also a very small dose) that my Psychiatrist prescribed for me. That helps the physical manifestations of anxiety. I think anxiety definitely affects me mentally, but the WORST part(s) were the physical manifestations that came along and snowballed the anxiety into a mountain. I'd feel kind of anxious and my chest would tighten up and/or my breathing would become a bit shallow and/or I'd get lightheaded. So what does my mind do? "Well, I don't feel well, so lets panic!" Even if I tried self talk, it didn't always help. Breathing techniques did if I could find a quiet spot, but imagine being at the cash register buying some groceries and a guy starts doing rhythmic breathing exercises lol. On the outside I dealt with it and probably seemed calm, but on the inside raged an inferno of anxiety that made me want to leap out of my skin and jump through the front window.
Anyway, I suggest seeing a therapist as well since they can help. Work and socializing is important to us as human beings. We all should feel moderately OK to go out and talk to people. Having a bit of anxiety is normal, in my opinion, but our anxiety is at a much higher level. That's why we seek treatment and help. I hope soon I can be back to myself, socially.
Best of luck to you!