What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Social Anxiety
There are many types of effective treatment for social anxiety. One treatment plan isnt better than the other, mainly because theyre all suited for different types of people and their specific needs and situations.
That said, experts believe that cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective. Psychotherapy, teletherapy, support groups, and medication are all great options, too.
Its best to talk with a mental health professional to explore the best treatment for you.
What Is Selective Mutism
Some kids and teens are so extremely shy and so fearful about talking to others, that they donât speak at all to some people or in certain places . This form of social phobia is sometimes called selective mutism.
People with selective mutism can talk. They have completely normal conversations with the people theyâre comfortable with or in certain places. But other situations cause them such extreme anxiety that they may not be able to bring themselves to talk at all.
Some people might mistake their silence for a stuck-up attitude or rudeness. But with selective mutism and social phobia, silence stems from feeling uncomfortable and afraid, not from being uncooperative, disrespectful, or rude.
Which Medications Work Best For Social Anxiety Disorder
Although many medications may be prescribed for social anxiety disorder, SSRIs and extended-release venlafaxine are considered first-choice medications. Research shows that more than half of those taking these medications experienced an improvement in their symptoms.
SSRIs and venlafaxine also have a lower risk of side effects than other antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants . These medications can help treat other symptoms that people with social anxiety disorder may experience, such as depression. Among sertraline, paroxetine, and venlafaxine, there is no particular medication that has been found to be more effective than the others for social anxiety disorder.
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Social Phobia Feared Social Situations
Some people with social phobia fear and avoid specific situations , while others may feel generalised anxiety about several social situations . A person with social phobia can fear a range of situations, including:
- crowds and parties
- talking with someone who is in a position of seniority or authority
- being watched while doing something, such as eating, signing papers or talking on the telephone
- situations that put them in the spotlight, such as parties to celebrate their own birthday.
Medications Used For Social Anxiety
We will have a look at the best drug for social anxiety disorder symptoms or at least the one that is most commonly prescribed.
The most used anti-anxiety meds for social anxiety symptoms are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors serotonin and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors .
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
These can have side effects like short-term nausea, insomnia, and tiredness. But the side effects gradually lessen or disappear over time.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors Venlafaxine is one of the most prescribed in this category. It works more quickly than SSRIs. When you start taking it, you may experience side effects like dizziness, headaches, nausea, insomnia. These side effects usually reduce or disappear over time as you get used to the drug.
BenzodiazepineAnother type of anti-anxiety medication to reduce your levels of anxiety quickly. It can be habit-forming with long-term side effects. You should only use these for short-term use.
Beta-blockersBeta blockers help you when you need to do something that causes you anxiety. They reduce your heartbeat and help with a nervous voice or tremors in your limbs. They will not cure social phobia but will reduce anxiety symptoms, which will enable you to perform in a social or business setting.
As always, consult with your medical practitioner if you need help with your social anxiety problems.
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Tip : Focus On Others Not Yourself
When were in a social situation that makes us nervous, many of us tend to get caught up in our anxious thoughts and feelings. You may be convinced that everyone is looking at you and judging you. Your focus is on your bodily sensations, hoping that by paying extra close attention you can better control them. But this excessive self-focus just makes you more aware of how nervous youre feeling, triggering even more anxiety! It also prevents you from fully concentrating on the conversations around you or the performance youre giving.
Switching from an internal to an external focus can go a long way toward reducing social anxiety. This is easier said than done, but you cant pay attention to two things at once. The more you concentrate on whats happening around you, the less youll be affected by anxiety.
Focus your attention on other people, but not on what theyre thinking of you! Instead, do your best to engage them and make a genuine connection.
Remember that anxiety isnt as visible as you think. And even if someone notices that youre nervous, that doesnt mean theyll think badly of you. Chances are other people are feeling just as nervous as youor have done in the past.
Really listen to what is being said not to your own negative thoughts.
Focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about what youre going to say or beating yourself up for a flub thats already passed.
Strike Up A Conversation
Do you shy away from talking to strangers? Do you avoid eye contact at the grocery store? Do you look at your feet in the elevator? Today, instead of doing what you normally do in those situations, try doing the opposite. Engage the other person in a bit of small talk, just for the sake of getting the practice and learning not to be afraid.
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What Are The Levels Of Social Anxiety
You can have the following levels of social anxiety mild anxiety, moderate anxiety, severe anxiety, and panic level anxiety. When it comes to social anxiety, the severity of the condition can range from mild to severe. Mild anxiety generally impacts oneâs ability to function in social situations and may cause excessive blushing, sweating, and trembling.Moderate anxiety is typically more intense and may lead to fear of public places, avoidance of social situations, and a fear of embarrassment. For those with severe anxiety, it can be debilitating and may require long-term treatment or hospitalization. Panic level anxiety is when mental health issues are so bad that people experience panic attacks.
Home Remedies Of Social Anxiety
There are several home remedy techniques that can be employed in the management of social anxiety. The techniques help in coping with the symptoms or in the prevention of the appearance of anxiety attacks or panic attacks.
Some of the techniques include:
- Exercise including aerobic exercise
- Having enough quality sleep every day
- Meditation mindfulness
- Reducing the uptake of caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine
- Practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, massage, music among others
- Talking about the anxiety
- Practicing stress management techniques
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What Keeps It Going
Thoughts: Certain thoughts tend to kick in when you enter a social situation and will make you anxious. These include:
- rules for yourself – I always have to look clever and in control
- beliefs about yourself – I’m boring
- predictions about the future – If someone gets to know me, they will see how inadequate I am.
They make you think about and criticise – your behaviour from moment to moment. Such thoughts are so automatic that they feel true to you although there is often no evidence for them at all. They can make you imagine that you appear to other people in a certain – usually rather unattractive way. Ths is almost certainly very different from the way that people actually do see you.
What Is Social Anxiety
Feeling shy or uncomfortable arent necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder.
Our abilities to interact in social situations vary depending on personality traits and life experiences. Some people are naturally shyer and more reserved than others.
According to Mayo Clinic: In social anxiety disorder, everyday interactions cause significant anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment because you fear being scrutinized or judged by others. fear and anxiety can lead to avoidance that can disrupt your life. Severe stress can affect your daily routine, work, school, or other activities.
So, social anxiety disorder is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations that can be difficult to handle and affect all areas of your life.
If you have a social anxiety disorder, you might avoid all social contact because even the simplest things like saying hello or making eye contact can make you very uncomfortable.
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Social Anxiety Disorder In Children
Theres nothing abnormal about a child being shy, but children with social anxiety disorder experience extreme distress over everyday situations such as playing with other kids, reading in class, speaking to adults, or taking tests. Often, children with social phobia dont even want to go to school.
Unhelpful Thinking Styles That Fuel Social Anxiety
Ask yourself if youre engaging in any of the following unhelpful thinking styles:
- Mind reading Assuming you know what other people are thinking, and that they see you in the same negative way that you see yourself.
- Fortune telling Predicting the future, usually while assuming the worst will happen. You just know that things will go horribly, so youre already anxious before youre even in the situation.
- Catastrophizing Blowing things out of proportion. For example, if people notice that youre nervous, it will be awful, terrible, or disastrous.
- Personalizing Assuming that people are focusing on you in a negative way or that whats going on with other people has to do with you.
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Are Social Anxiety Disorder And Avoidant Personality Disorder The Same Disorder
Another area of controversy involves whether to classify SP and avoidant personality disorder as two separate entities or whether they are essentially the same disorder. Although some reviews have shown no consistent clinical differences in symptom presentation , more recent studies have demonstrated qualitative differences between the two disorders specifically, they have shown that the symptoms of avoidant personality disorder are more severe and broader in nature . Other studies examining differences in genetics and treatment response showed no compelling evidence that they should be viewed as two separate disorders.
Effective Therapy For Social Anxiety Disorder1
The good news is that cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety has been markedly successful. Research and clinical evidence alike indicate that cognitive-behavioral therapy, which should be comprehensive in nature, produces permanent changes in the lives of people.
Social anxiety disorder can be overcome, although it takes both consistency and persistence. But, barring cognitive problems everyone can make progress against social anxiety using the appropriate type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
At The Social Anxiety Institute, we call cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder âcomprehensiveâ cognitive-behavioral therapy, to differentiate it from the general idea that cognitive concepts are simplistic and can be addressed by using only a few strategies.
A successful therapy program for social anxiety disorder must address the dozens of cognitive methods, strategies, and concepts that will allow peopleâs brains to literally change. The brain is continually learning, and irrational thoughts and beliefs can change as a result of this cognitive process.
A good therapy program will supply the necessary and specific strategies as well as indicate to people how and why they need to practice, work on, and begin to accept rational thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and perceptions.
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How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated
If youre concerned you may have symptoms of social anxiety disorder, talk to a health care provider. After discussing your history, a health care provider may conduct a physical exam to ensure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. A health care provider may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. The first step to effective treatment is to get a diagnosis, usually from a mental health professional.
Social anxiety disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy , medication, or both. Speak with a health care provider about the best treatment for you.
So A Really Easy Breathing Technique That I Like To Teach My Clients Is What We Affectionately Call Xanax Breath
And the idea behind calling it that is that the effect that you get from doing this breathing technique is like the effect of a Xanax.
So, its a very simple technique:
- Inhale for a count of 5
- Hold the breath for 5
- And exhale for 5.
You should feel in your body, if you breathed deeply enough into your belly that you have a really nice feeling of calm that comes over you.
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How Can I Help Someone With Social Anxiety
There are multiple things you can do to help and support someone with social anxiety, including:
- Learn about social anxiety disorder: Educate yourself about social anxiety disorder to better understand what theyre going through. Dont assume you know what theyre experiencing.
- Be empathetic: Dont downplay or dismiss their feelings and experiences. Let them know that youre there to listen and support them. Try putting yourself in their shoes.
- Encourage them to seek help and/or treatment: While having an understanding and supportive friend or family member is helpful to a person with social anxiety, social anxiety disorder is a medical condition. Because of this, people with social anxiety disorder need cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication to treat and manage their social anxiety. Encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider if theyre experiencing signs and symptoms of social anxiety.
- Be patient: It can take a while for someone with social anxiety disorder to get better once theyve started treatment. Know that its a long and complex process and that their symptoms and behaviors will eventually improve.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
How Anxiety Medication Works
Controlled medications for anxiety, such as benzodiazepines, work by binding to the brains GABA receptors. This action makes you feel calm and helps reduce nervousness and muscle spasms.
Benzodiazepines are considered controlled substances because the brain and body quickly build up a tolerance, requiring larger doses to get the same effect. When you use these medications regularly, it teaches your body to depend on outside means to relax. So when you dont take the drug, you may become restless, tense, and irritable.
Non-controlled medications affect the brain in a different way. For instance, SSRIs act slowly on the serotonin system while SRNIs act on both serotonin and norepinephrine. These medications are safer for long-term use, whereas benzodiazepines become less effective over time.
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How Long Does Social Anxiety Medication Take To Work
Antidepressants can take weeks to start working. Although it might be difficult to have to wait until you start feeling better, its important to begin treatment if you have social anxiety disorder, and to stick with it. Ask your healthcare provider or psychiatrist when you can expect to feel better after starting an antidepressant.
Anti-anxiety medications usually take effect quickly. Theyre usually not taken for long periods of time because people can build up a tolerance to them. Over time, higher and higher doses are needed to get the same effect. Anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed for short periods while the antidepressant starts to work.
Beta-blockers also work quickly to help with specific symptoms of anxiety, such as tremors or feeling like your heart is racing. However, like the anti-anxiety medications, they cant treat depressive symptoms that may coexist with social anxiety disorder.
Causes & Risk Factors
There are no clear-cut answers as to why some people develop social anxiety disorder, although research suggests that various factors may be involved. Like most mental health problems, social anxiety disorder appears to be caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors and challenging life experiences. These include:
- stressful or traumatic life events
- a family history of anxiety disorders
- other mental health or substance use problems.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder usually begin prior to age 18, and symptoms tend to appear more in women than in men. Approximately seven per cent of people experience social anxiety disorder.
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Pharmacotherapy Of Anxiety Disorders: Current And Emerging Treatment Options
- 1Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, United States
- 2Silver Hill Hospital, New Canaan, CT, United States
- 3Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States
- 4Department of Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, United States
- 5Department of Psychiatry and Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
- 6Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States
- 7Clinical Research Division, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY, United States
- 8Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, United States
Symptoms Of Social Phobia
When exposed to a feared social situation, a person with social phobia may experience symptoms of extreme anxiety, including:
- feeling as if you have nothing to say
- accelerated heart rate
- feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty
- negative thoughts such as Im making a fool of myself
- difficulty concentrating on anything other than physical sensations of anxiety, negative feedback from others and negative thoughts
- an overwhelming urge to flee the situation
- the realisation that these feelings are irrational and out of proportion.
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