Most people know what it feels like to be nervous about social situations or public speaking. Social anxiety disorder, however, is more than just shyness. The intense fear can be debilitating. People with social anxiety will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid social events.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, they might be willing to lose money, time, relationships, or opportunities to avoid being in front of others.
What’s the treatment for social anxiety disorder?
There are many ways to treat social anxiety disorder. Typically, a mental health professional will help you decide on the best course of treatment.
Like most anxiety disorders, social anxiety is usually treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. However, since social anxiety has a specific set of triggers, the treatment generally includes slowly acclimating to and talking through various social situations.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common and effective interventions for treating social anxiety. Patients work with a clinician to identify unhelpful, distorted, and anxious thoughts. Once they identify these patterns of thinking, they can start challenging and replacing the negative thoughts.
People with social anxiety disorders are often prescribed medication to manage the symptoms of their anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications include SSRIs, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines.
SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work by helping the brain keep serotonin from being reabsorbed as quickly.
Because of the fear of interacting with and being judged by others, support groups for those with social anxiety can be especially healing. People can share their experiences, practice social skills, and talk openly in a way that they may not feel comfortable doing outside of group therapy.