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Options for How to Treat Social Anxiety

Gloria Goodwin's picture
Options for How to Treat Social Anxiety

Feeling nervous about certain social situations such as public speaking is quite normal. However, when you have social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, everyday social interactions could cause a lot of anxiety, self-consciousness and embarrassment that exceeds what would be considered normal. In fact, a person living with this condition has an intense fear of interacting with strangers and constantly worries about being in a humiliating or embarrassing situation. This is the kind of anxiety that disrupts your daily routine and prevents you from enjoying any activity that involves other people. The good news is that there are several treatment options available today for how to control anxiety


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that involves modifying your thought and behavior patterns in order to influence your emotions positively to address what casues anxiety for you. Three techniques that are commonly used in the treatment of social anxiety disorder are social skill training, exposure and cognitive restructuring.Social skills training involves different exercises such as role-playing or modeling. It is meant to train the patient to learn appropriate social behavior which should ultimately decrease anxiety. However, this treatment is meant for those with deficits in social interaction in addition to SAD.Exposure involves imagining the action or social situation that causes you to be anxious and gradually working your way to being physically present in such situations.Cognitive restructuring is meant to help patients identify and deal with negative thoughts by evaluating them and then constructing alternative positive thoughts to counter them.

Psychodynamic therapy is another treatment option in which the therapist attempts to elicit the patient's underlying emotions in order to help him or her work through them. This form of treatment is especially helpful when a person has a deep unresolved reason for the anxiety.


There are several medications that are available for the treatment of SAD. However, it is important to note that each has its pros and cons depending on your particular situation, which is why self-medicating is ill-advised. In addition, medication for SAD treatment is often combined with psychotherapy or professional counseling for optimal effectiveness. The most commonly used medications include:Benzodiazepines: These are mile tranquilizers that have a sedative effect on the brain. They are meant to prevent or reduce the symptoms of anxiety.Beta-blockers: This medication should be taken orally before a performance in order to reduce the expected anxiety symptoms that you usually experience in such a situation. Beta-blockers are generally preferred to benzodiazepines since they do not adversely affect the mental sharpness of the patient. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: These were once believed to be the most effective medications for treating SAD. However, studies have shown that they could have very serious side effects. It is for this reason that they are generally not considered unless other medications have failed.

Alternative Tre​atments

Some people prefer to keep away from chemical medication in favor of natural forms of treatment. However, it should be noted that most alternative treatments do not have scientific proof of their efficacy. Some of the natural anxiety remedies that are available include dietary supplement, hypnotherapy and aromatherapy.

Dietary supplements and herbal remedies for anxiety such as chamomile, kava kava and passion flower are used in combination with other forms of treatment such as CBT.

Hypnotherapy: The goal of this form of treatment is to separate the memory of the traumatic experience believed to have caused the anxiety disorder. 

Aromatherapy: Lavender is believed to enhance a person's mental health and is used to help you relax and alleviate anxiety.

Self-Help Strategies

Self-help strategies for the treatment of SAD work by complementing other forms of treatment. These strategies are most helpful to those dealing with mild symptoms of the condition that only bother them occasionally. Ideally, these techniques, which include slow breathing, are meant to be a starting point toward receiving further treatment and provide you with the tools for how to be more social.

The most appropriate treatment for social anxiety disorder will be determined by the severity of your physical and emotional symptoms as well as how well you are able to function. It is also important to note that while some people respond well to initial treatment, others require some form of support throughout their lives. At the end of the day, it is important to go for the treatment option that allows you to enjoy a normal life as much as possible.

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