Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, in some situations can be beneficial. It is our bodies’ natural reaction to danger and helps keep us alert. Natural anxiety helps us prepare and pay attention to potential dangers. However, chronic anxiety, or anxiety disorder is a harmful mental illness. Anxiety disorders are much different from normal feelings of anxiousness, and involves excessive fear. Out of all mental disorders, anxiety disorders are the most common. In fact, nearly 30% of all adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorders are treatable and can be improved with a number of effective treatments. With anxiety treatment, most people can lead normal and productive lives.
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by the significant anxiety and discomfort related to being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected or looked down on in social interactions. Those with social anxiety disorder try to avoid social situations, or endure it with severe anxiety. Some common examples of social anxiety are extreme fear of public speaking, meeting new people, or doing things alone in public. For it to be characterized as social anxiety, the constant fear or anxiety lasts at least six months. Social anxiety doesn’t only affect the individual, but everyone involved with their daily functioning.
Social Anxiety Diagnosis
A correct diagnosis is important before treating social anxiety. The social anxiety may be a symptom of a larger problem, or may be in conjunction with other mental health disorders.
Indicators of social anxiety disorder include:
Chronic, intense anxiety about specific social situations because you believe you will be judged, embarrassed or humiliated.
Avoiding social situations that cause anxiety, or enduring them with intense fear and anxiety.
Excessive anxiety disproportionate to the situation.
Anxiety or distress that interferes with your daily living.
Social anxiety is debilitating mental illness to live with. Thankfully, there are several treatment options available to combat it.
Social Anxiety Treatments
Treatment for social anxiety disorder depends on its severity. Different approaches are taken for varying degrees of social anxiety, measured by much it impairs your daily functioning in life. The two most common treatments for social anxiety disorder are psychotherapy, or counseling, and medications. These treatments are often combined for optimal treatment of social anxiety.
Psychotherapy for Social Anxiety
For most people, psychotherapy—or psychiatric treatment—improves symptoms of social anxiety disorder. During therapy, you gradually learn how to recognize negative thoughts about yourself and change them. Therapy for social anxiety disorder helps you develop skills to gain confidence in social interactions and situations.
Behavioral therapy helps to improve coping skills and develop the confidence to handle anxiety-causing situations. As an added tip, you may also practice skills training, or role-playing to practice your social skills and gain confidence and comfort. Additionally, practicing exposure to social situations can be helpful in improving your social anxiety.
Medication for Social Anxiety
The correct diagnosis must be made before treating social anxiety with medication. Because each case and individual are different, a thorough examination must first be conducted before arriving at a diagnosis. Once treatment for social anxiety begins, your symptoms will noticeably improve over the next several weeks or months.
Some examples of effective medication for social anxiety disorder symptoms include:
Anti-anxiety medications. These may reduce levels of anxiety and improve your symptoms. While they work quickly and efficiently, they can become a habit and are best used short-term in combination with behavioral therapy.
Beta blockers. These medications work by blocking epinephrine (adrenaline). Beta blockers reduce heart rate and blood pressure, decreasing that heart-pounding, shaky voice and hands feeling. Because of this, they work best when used occasionally for controlling social anxiety symptoms for a particular situation, like giving a speech.
Molina Psychiatry specializes in social anxiety disorder and has over 25 years of experience. We can help you make strides towards recovery, and it all starts with the right diagnosis. After finding the right combination of treatments for your unique case, your social anxiety symptoms may start to improve over time. Call our office today to get started on the road to recovery.
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Molina Psychiatric Associates, P.A.
2485 E. Southlake Blvd.,
Southlake, Texas 76092
Monday-Thursday from 7am - 4pm and closed on Fridays.