Overview

Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia) is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. Usually, this kind of anxiety is triggered by an external event like before social gatherings, presentations. People with social anxiety disorder worry that their actions or behaviors will be negatively evaluated by others, leading to feelings of embarrassment. They often avoid social situations, avoid engaging in group activities, often end up in solitary lifestyle and this fear interferes with their social life.

Risk Factors

 

  • Genetic factors- family history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological family
  • Environmental factors – Exposure to stressful and negative life

Treatments and Therapies

Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.

Medication

Medication does not cure anxiety disorders but can help relieve symptoms. The most common classes of medications used to combat anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety drugs (such as benzodiazepines), antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Antidepressants are medicines that treat Social Anxiety. antidepressants usually take higher dose and longer duration (8-12 weeks) to work compared to the treatment of depression. Once you start feeling better, usually after a course of 6 to 12 months, you may be able to gradually taper off the antidepressants. Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Please Note: In some cases, children, teenagers, and young adults under 25 may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. This warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.

If you are considering taking an antidepressant and you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding please let us know prior to starting the medicines.

Benzodiazepines are highly effective in relieving anxiety however you can develop a tolerance to them if these medicines are taken regularly for long period of time. Risk of developing tolerance is more in people who have substance use problems (current or past) or who are combining benzodiazepines with other addictive medicines like opioids. These medicines are associated with intense withdrawal symptoms also, so they have to be tapered off gradually. This is the reason these medicines are used as needed only.

Beta blockers

Beta-blockers are medicines that can help block some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, or tremors. Beta-blockers are commonly the medications of choice for the “performance anxiety” type of social anxiety.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help people with anxiety disorders. To be effective, psychotherapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties and tailored to his or her needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an example of one type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders. It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder.

Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy are two CBT methods that are often used, together or by themselves, to treat social anxiety disorder.

Holistic approach

  • Getting regular exercise such as brisk walk, swimming, jogging etc. helps with anxiety and depression and promote sleep in addition to the physical benefits of work out
  • Yoga and anaerobic exercise have also shown beneficial effects on mental health
  • Keep a mood log
  • Be mindful of your triggers and warning signs
  • Eat healthy and nutritious diet
  • Maintain regular follow ups with your care providers
  • Take all medicines as prescribed, consult your doctor before making any medicine changes
  • Avoid misuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Adopt good sleep habits
  • Mindful breathing