Dr. Richard Heimberg: Hi! I am Dr. Richard Heimberg, Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University and a member of the Anxiety & Depression Association of America which is partnering with the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.
Today I am talking about treatment for social anxiety disorder. Like other anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder can be treated. Most people find significant improvement with professional care, other see improvement with a self help regime.
Having extreme and frequent social anxiety often interferes with a persons quality of life and ability to function while at work, school or in relationships. This is not shyness; people with this disorder have a fear social situation that is really extreme, because of this they are at increased risk for depression, alcohol abuse and suicide attempts. Even more so than people who have other types of problems with anxiety.
A health profession can provide a diagnosis and individualized treatment plan, both medication and psychotherapy are scientifically proven to be affective treatment for social anxiety disorder.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT is a specific type of psychotherapy based firmly on research findings. A major focus of this treatment is to help people change the way they preserve situations and events in their lives and develop skills to better cope with anxiety.
It focuses on identifying, understanding and change in thinking and behavior patterns. Benefits are usually seen in 12-16 weeks depending on the person. Individual and group therapy are effective. In this type of therapy the patient is actively involve in his or her own recovery. As a sense of control and learn skills that are useful throughout life. CBT typically involves rating about the problem, keeping records between appointments and completing assignments in which the treatment procedures are practiced.
Patients learn skills during therapy sessions, but they must practice repeatedly to see improvement. Negative thinking is at the heart of social anxiety, learning to handle your negative thinking patterns takes consistence practice, but this work can pay off with a dramatic decrease in anxiety. Treatment is most effective when youre willing to understand what triggers your anxiety and then change your thinking in these situations and your anxious behaviors. Your therapist should be able to discuss how long it will take for you to begin to experience relief.
Medication treatments have also been proven effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder and are often used along with psychological therapies; several medications have shown to be effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorders. Some medicines have rapid lasting anti-anxiety effects and others may take several weeks of daily use to work.
All medications have the potential to cause side effects, so talk to your doctor if you experience any. The most commonly prescribed medications for social anxiety disorder are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. These include drugs known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) and Benzodiazepines.
You and your doctor can discuss which is right for you. Be sure to ask how long you might need to take the medication, do not stop taking medication without consulting your doctor. Also speak to your doctor if your medication doesnt seem to help or if you start medication for another illness.
Social anxiety disorder is treatable, you do not have to feel alone or powerless. Organization like the Anxiety & Depression Association of America and the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety can help you learn more about this disorder and how to find help.