There are various social anxiety disorder treatments available, but which would be the best for you? How much your social anxiety disorder affects your ability to function on a daily basis will determine the kind of treatment you need. Typically, social anxiety disorder treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, or a mixture of both.
Psychotherapy refers to talk therapy or psychological counseling. This improves the symptoms of most people who have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Therapy can help you recognize and modify any intrusive negative thoughts you may have and develop the skills to help you take part in life activities more confidently.
The most effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can be conducted with equal effectiveness in individual or group settings. During CBT sessions, you face situations that cause you to fear. This helps you improve your ability to cope with stressful situations. You may participate in role-playing where you practice your social skills, honing your levels of comfort and confidence in social situations. Repeated exposure to situations that cause you to stress will help you become comfortable in dealing with them on your own.
Several types of medication are available for social anxiety disorder. The go-to medication is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Health care providers will most likely prescribe Zoloft or Paxil. A serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) known as Effexor XR is also a helpful option.
You will often start with a low dosage to reduce the risks of side effects. Your health care provider will then gradually increase your prescription until you reach the full dose. It can take a few weeks to months of medication for you to notice a significant improvement in your symptoms.
Other medications that you may be provided include beta-blockers, which help reduce heart rate, pounding of the heart, blood pressure, and shaky voice and limbs. These are often prescribed right before a big event that triggers your anxiety so that you can navigate it more calmly. Also commonly prescribed are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines. It is important to take these medications only when they are prescribed and to do so with care. These medications are not usually recommended for long-term use or general treatment of social anxiety disorder, as unrestrained use can lead to dependency.
Keep at It
In therapy, you are equipped with skills that will last you a long time, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you time to see noticeable results. Changes to the way your thought and behavioral patterns are structured take time to manifest, so be patient with yourself. Finding the right medication for your particular situation is also a process of trial and error.
For some people, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder will gradually fade with anxiety treatment, and medication can be discontinued. Others might need years of anxiety treatment to prevent relapses. Anxiety in children is also quite common, so if you think that your child might need help, it is best to seek it earlier rather than later.