How Do Professionals Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

by on March 12, 2014

Treating Social PhobiaIf you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from a mental health condition, it is important to get a professional’s opinion. A licensed mental health worker can help by providing an official diagnosis based on psychology research and findings. He or she can also provide helpful treatment options that can alleviate some (or all) symptoms associated with the condition.

But what specific treatment options are out there? We will discuss specific kinds of treatment for social anxiety in this article. The following information is based on an article by S. Seedat.

Social Anxiety Disorder

For people with social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder), interacting with other people can be highly stressful and negative. This is because having social anxiety issues makes you overly conscious — and critical — of your own social performance.

A minor social gaffe, such as telling a joke that no one laughs at, is embarrassing for most people. However, a person with social phobia feels extremely mortified when something like this happens. He or she will likely feel unable to recover from the incident in a conversation and will spend the rest of the gathering feeling highly ashamed and upset. The socially anxious person will also re-visit the incident in his or her mind afterwards, often to an unhealthy degree. The bad memory usually serves to hurt future social performance. This is because the anxious person will often assume the awkward incident will happen again, therefore behaving in an uncomfortable manner that affects the present interaction.

Social Anxiety Treatment

According to the article mentioned above, treatment for social anxiety disorder is meant to “treat core symptoms […], reduce functional impairment and avoidance, and improve […] quality of life” for the affected person. Essentially, the mental health worker will be helping the socially anxious person to feel less uncomfortable and nervous in social situations and better able to interact in a healthy way with others at work, at school, and in other settings.

For some people who need faster relief from social anxiety symptoms, a psychiatrist may prescribe some kind of anti-anxiety medication. The article names SSRIs, used to treat anxiety and depression, as one class of drug that can be prescribed for someone with an anxiety disorder. Drugs usually take a number of weeks to start working, so patients are warned not to expect immediate results.

Usually a drug is used in conjunction with some kind of “talk therapy” (also known as psychotherapy). Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is usually the type of therapy used for people with social anxiety. CBT teaches people to change their negative thought habits. For instance, a socially anxious person about to attend a party might think: “I am definitely going to embarrass myself at this party! No one liked me at the last party I went to, and no one will like me at this one.”

CBT can help a person who thinks this way to stop, question the truth of his or her worries, and think in a more positive, constructive manner. CBT could help someone to think, instead: “I was embarrassed at the last party, but it was not the end of the world. I will try to talk to two or three new people and to have a good time. If I feel overwhelmed, I can go outside for a few minutes and practice some deep breathing exercises.” Effective methods of anxiety relief like yoga and deep breathing can also be taught in therapy.

Photo Credit: drewleavy via Compfight cc

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment