Social Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment

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Social Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment

Most people have some sort of anxiety when it comes to certain situations. For example, it is fairly common for people to be embarrassed if they are asked to sing karaoke in front of a large group of their peers or if they are asked to perform a speech in front of a large crowd. However, for some people, these dreaded tasks, along with more common tasks like speaking to a cashier at a store, can prove so troublesome and anxiety-provoking that the person avoids certain social situations.

Some people have a form of anxiety labelled social anxiety disorder. For a person to be considered socially anxious, Mayo Clinic lists a number of criteria that must be met. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Anxiety that is so severe that a person cannot continue with their tasks of daily living
  • Anxiety that is disproportionate to the situation
  • Persistent and intense fear of certain social situations because the individual thinks they will be judged or embarrassed

If you think you may have social anxiety disorder, you will want to talk with a physician who may then refer you to a behavioral specialist. When helping you determine whether you have social anxiety disorder, you will be asked to identify which situations make you feel uncomfortable. The doctor will also ask you about the symptoms you experience and when they occur.

Once you are diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. While there is no “cure” for the condition, there are many steps you can take to help minimize the impact the disorder has on your everyday life and your overall quality of life.

According to the National Institute of Health, appropriate treatment for social anxiety includes psychotherapy (also known as “talk” therapy). In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help patients learn to think differently and react differently to stressful situations.

Sometimes doctors prescribe medications to help deal with symptoms of the disorder. Some of the medications that are commonly prescribed are anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta-blockers. The specific dosage and frequency of the medication depends on your symptoms and your doctor’s professional judgment regarding treating your case.

If you are prescribed an anti-depressant, most likely the doctor will recommend that you start with a very low dosage and gradually build up the dosage to prevent side effects. The most common side effects include headaches and nausea.

Support groups are another common treatment method for social anxiety disorder. Very Well Mind has great resources for finding support groups in your area for social anxiety. Meeting other people who are dealing with similar barriers can help you feel less alone with your diagnosis. You can also learn coping strategies from others while not being required to speak in the group. Having a regular meeting time where you know you can talk about your feelings can help you feel less isolated.

It is important to talk with your doctor about any concerns you have with your mental health, as only a medical professional can definitely confirm a diagnosis.

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