Social Anxiety Disorder
How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?
For social anxiety disorder, the most effective treatment currently available is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication may also be used to help ease the symptoms of social anxiety disorder so that CBT is more effective. Drugs may also be used alone.
- Cognitive-behavior therapy: The goal of CBT is to guide the person's thoughts in a more rational direction and help the person stop avoiding situations that once caused anxiety. It teaches people to react differently to the situations that trigger their anxiety symptoms. Therapy may include systematic desensitization or real life exposure to the feared situation. With systematic desensitization, the person imagines the frightening situation and works through his or her fears in a safe and relaxed environment, such as the therapist's office. Real life exposure gradually exposes the person to the situation but with the support of the therapist.
- Medication: There are several different types of drugs used to treat social anxiety disorder, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, like Prozac or Zoloft; anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines, such as Klonopin and Ativan; beta-blockers, often used to treat heart conditions, may also be used to minimize certain physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shaking and rapid heartbeat.
Counseling to improve self-esteem and social skills, as well as relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, may also help a person deal with social anxiety disorder. Social skills may be taught in a group-based format.
What Is the Outlook for People With Social Anxiety Disorder?
The outlook for those with social anxiety disorder is generally good with treatment. Many people improve and enjoy more productive lives.
Can Social Anxiety Disorder Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, social anxiety disorder cannot be prevented, but seeking help as soon as symptoms surface can help make treatment more effective.