Fear and worry in social anxiety disorder lead to avoidance, which can affect your life. Severe stress can have a negative impact on your relationships, everyday routines, work, school, and other activities.
Social anxiety disorder can be a persistent mental health problem, but gaining confidence and improving your capacity to communicate with others can be helped by learning coping techniques in psychotherapy and taking drugs.
Your healthcare professional will want to identify if other conditions are responsible for your anxiety or if you have social anxiety disorder in addition to another physical or mental health disorder.
Your doctor may decide a diagnosis based on the following:
Physical examination to determine whether a medical issue or medication may produce anxiety symptoms
Discussion of your symptoms, their frequency and context of occurrence.
Examine a list of situations to determine if they induce anxiety.
Self-report questionnaires on social anxiety symptoms
American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria
DSM-5 social anxiety disorder criteria include:
Persistent, strong worry or anxiety around particular social settings because to the belief that you may be negatively judged, embarrassed, or humiliated.
Anxiety that is disproportionate to the situation’s severity.
Anxiety or fear that cannot be accounted for by a medical condition, medication, or substance addiction.
Psychotherapy ameliorates symptoms in the majority of individuals with social anxiety disorder. In therapy, you learn how to notice and alter unfavourable self-perceptions, as well as acquire social confidence-boosting abilities.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most effective kind of psychotherapy for anxiety, and it is as effective whether administered alone or in a group setting.
In exposure-based CBT, you gradually confront your most feared scenarios. This can increase your coping abilities and help you build the confidence to face situations that cause anxiety. You may also engage in skills training or role-playing to hone your social skills and acquire comfort and confidence in your interactions with others. Practicing exposure to social situations is very beneficial for overcoming social anxiety.
Initial options for drugs
Despite the availability of a variety of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are frequently taken initially for social anxiety with persistent symptoms. Your physician may recommend paroxetine (Paxil) or sertraline (Zoloft).
Venlafaxine (Effexor XR), a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), may also be an option for social anxiety disorder.
Your health care provider may start you on a low dose of medication and gradually increase it to the full amount to lessen the risk of adverse effects. Several weeks to several months of treatment may be required for your symptoms to improve noticeably.
Your doctor may potentially prescribe additional drugs for social anxiety symptoms, including:
Additional antidepressants To discover the best effective antidepressant with the fewest adverse effects, you may need to test multiple medications.
Anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals. Benzodiazepines (ben-zoe-die-AZ-uh-peens) may lessen your level of anxiety. Despite the fact that they are frequently fast-acting, they can be habit-forming and sedating, hence they are normally prescribed for short-term usage only.
Beta blockers. These drugs function by inhibiting the stimulating action of epinephrine (adrenaline). They may reduce pulse rate, blood pressure, heart pounding, and voice and limb trembling. As a result, they may be most effective when used sparingly to suppress symptoms for a specific occasion, such as giving a speech. They are not often suggested for treating social anxiety disorder.
Continue with it
Don’t give up if treatment isn’t effective immediately. In psychotherapy, you can continue to make progress over the course of several weeks or months. Learning new skills to assist with anxiety management takes time. And finding the appropriate drug for your condition may require trial and error.
For some individuals, social anxiety disorder symptoms may diminish over time, allowing medication to be removed. Others may require long-term drug use to prevent recurrence.
To get the most out of treatment, you should follow your medical or therapy appointments, challenge yourself by establishing objectives to approach social settings that cause you anxiety, take your meds as prescribed, and discuss any changes in your condition with your health care provider.
Several herbal medicines have been investigated as anxiety treatments, with varied success. Before taking any herbal medicines or supplements, consult your health care provider to ensure their safety and absence of drug interactions.
Lifestyle and natural treatments
Although social anxiety disorder typically necessitates the assistance of a medical professional or licenced psychotherapist, you can attempt some of the following approaches to manage situations likely to provoke symptoms:
Learn techniques for reducing stress.
On a regular basis, engage in physical exercise or physical activity.
Get adequate sleep.
Consume a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
Limit or avoid caffeine.
Participate in social situations by reaching out to individuals with whom you have a rapport.
Practice in increments
Consider your worries to determine the scenarios that bring you the greatest worry. Then, gradually engage in these activities until you feel less anxious. Begin with tiny steps by establishing daily or weekly objectives in manageable conditions. The greater your level of practise, the less anxious you will feel.
Consider practising the following scenarios:
Eat in public with a close family, friend, or acquaintance.
Make deliberate eye contact and exchange welcomes, or be the first to greet others.
Give someone a compliment.
Obtain directions from a complete stranger.
Call a friend to make arrangements.
Being social whilst feeling worried is first difficult. Don’t avoid situations that trigger your symptoms, no matter how tough or unpleasant it may initially seem. By repeatedly encountering these types of events, you will continue to develop and hone your coping abilities.
These techniques can help you confront situations that cause anxiety:
For example, you can prepare for conversation by reading about current events to pick fascinating things to discuss.
Focus on personal aspects you enjoy about yourself.
Practice calming exercises.
Learn stress management skills.
Set reasonable social goals.
Observe the frequency with which the humiliating circumstances you fear really occur. You may observe that the scenarios you fear rarely materialise.
When humiliating situations do occur, remind yourself that your feelings will pass and that you will be able to handle them till they do. The majority of people around you either do not notice or do not care as much as you believe, or they are more tolerant than you believe.
Do not rely on drink to quiet your nerves. It may appear to assist temporarily, but in the long run, it can increase your anxiety.
These coping strategies may reduce your anxiety:
Maintain regular contact with friends and family.
Join a respected local or online support group.
Join a group, such as Toastmasters International, that gives opportunity to enhance communication and public speaking skills.
When worried, engage in delightful or soothing activities, such as hobbies.
These coping strategies can help you manage your symptoms and prevent a relapse over time. Remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming anxious periods, that your anxiety is temporary, and that the negative outcomes you fear so much rarely occur.