It can be difficult to distinguish between feelings of shyness and a full-blown social anxiety disorder, especially when looking at yourself. For this reason, many social anxiety conditions go undiagnosed for years. As years pass, it’s not uncommon for what was thought to be simple shyness develop into actual physical symptoms.
Social anxiety disorder treatment can vary depending on the person. Some people may only require therapy while others may need medication treatment in addition to ongoing therapy. Fortunately, when a person receives needed treatment for a social anxiety condition, the likelihood of a full recovery is good.
Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment
According to the Mayo Clinic health site, psychological counseling and medications are the two most common social anxiety disorder treatments. Whether a person needs both types of treatment or just counseling depends on the extent of his or her emotional and physical symptoms. People who’ve developed physical symptoms, such as stomach problems or headaches will most likely require both types of treatment.
Over time, a person tends to develop unhealthy coping skills or behaviors to accommodate feelings of anxiousness in social settings. Symptoms of depression also tend to develop when the condition goes untreated for a long time. Many people also develop substance abuse habits to compensate for anxious feelings. Unlearning unhealthy coping behaviors is a necessary step towards recovery. As a social anxiety disorder treatment, counseling sessions can help a person replace unhealthy coping behaviors with healthy ones.
Counseling Treatment Approaches
Social anxiety disorder can take two forms: generalized anxiety and non-generalized or specific anxiety. People who suffer from generalized anxiety experience fear in most all social situations. With non-generalized anxiety, a person may only feel this way in one or a few social situations, such as eating in front of others or public speaking. For both types of conditions, a person may or may not experience physical symptoms depending on how severe anxiety feelings become.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy works well as a social anxiety disorder treatment for both types of conditions. This counseling approach may use exposure therapy, where a person is gradually exposed to anxiety-producing situations. This approach also uses cognitive restructuring techniques, which enable a person to replace destructive thought patterns and belief systems with a healthier, productive mindset. For people who experience physical symptoms from anxiety, symptom management skills provide another technique for managing stress responses in anxiety-producing situations.
Someone who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder or someone who’s undergone counseling with little to no symptom improvement may benefit from medication as a social anxiety disorder treatment. Different types of medication treatments are used to treat one or more symptoms of the disorder.
Some of the most commonly used medications for social anxiety disorder treatment include:
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) – used to help alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – used to treat generalized social anxiety disorders
- Beta-Blockers – used to help alleviate physical symptoms caused by anxiety, such as rapid heart rate and tremors
- Venlafaxine – used to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression
Whether a person needs therapy or medication, the sooner he or she receives social anxiety disorder treatment the sooner one’s quality of life can get better.