Social Anxiety Disorder: General INFORMATION and Treatment options 

Social anxiety disorder is a common mental and behavioral disorder affecting up to 8% of the population worldwide. It is an adverse fear of social settings and interacting with people. As opposed to simple shyness, social anxiety disorder results into an intense, overcoming fear of activities that are considered normal and routine like public speaking and talking over the phone.

Individuals suffering from this disorder are extremely afraid of getting scrutinized and judged by other people during social occasions.

This condition has the potential of wreaking havoc on the social lives of people who suffer from it. Symptoms can be quite severe that they disrupt the everyday lives of sufferers. This disorder is also known as social phobia and may result into its users avoiding social and romantic relationships, this makes them feel lonely and even worse, ashamed.

I’m sure you’ve met people who are quite afraid to go out into public places or perhaps you feel this way yourself.

In as much as they accept that their fear is too much and lacks basis, these individuals normally feel unable to do anything about their anxiety. Their greatest fear is that they may humiliate or embarrass themselves. This condition can significantly impede normal routine, friendships, occupational performance, schooling and social life.

This makes it difficult to complete school, attend interviews, get a job and get married. This disorder normally begins in childhood and sometimes in adolescence. Children who suffer from it are prone to throwing tantrums, clinging behavior and in some cases, autism.

Treatment for social anxiety disorder consists of physiological counseling and medication to help with anxiety and depression. Combining professional counseling and medication like antidepressants can be very effective for the long term treatment of individuals suffering from general anxiety and fear of most social settings.

Individuals suffering from mild anxiety disorder such as those who only exhibit the fear of one or a select number of social situations like eating with others may only need professional counseling to overcome their condition.

Initial treatment options of social anxiety disorder may depend on the severity of your symptoms and how you carry on with your daily life. After your doctor has determined whether your condition is general or situational, a cocktail of medication combined with counseling may be prescribed. Treatment options include:

1.Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  

This is considered to be one of the most effective forms of treatment for this disorder. Individual cognitive behavioral therapy specifically tailored for social anxiety disorder is normally offered over 14 sessions and lasts for approximately four months.

This therapy works by helping you identify unrealistic and unhelpful beliefs. Your therapist should help you change your behavioral patterns to get rid of unhealthy beliefs with realistic ones. It also teaches new skills and trains you to react positively to circumstances  which would normally make you anxious.

2. Self-help

This is normally in the form of videos, audio recording and written literature such as books and pamphlets. These contain information on how to deal with anxiety. Seeking self-help can also help in mastering new techniques such as breathing techniques among other styles of relieving stress.

3. Antidepressants

These belong to a class of medicines known as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRIs). This medication can be taken individually or in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy. SSRIs enhance the amount of serotonin in the brain which generally uplift your overall mood.

Their effects can take several weeks to be visualized. Dosage is normally began in low concentrations and then gradually raised. The common side effects associated with these medication include; dizziness, nausea, sweating, loss of appetite and insomnia.

4. Psychotherapy

Long or short term interpersonal psychotherapy may be offered to specifically deal with this disorder. This intervention involves live interaction with a professional therapist, either one on one or in a group.

This method allows individuals to deal with their troublesome habits and scrutinize their problems and worries. Short term therapy consist of 16 to 20 sessions, spread over five months while long term therapy consists of 25 to 30 sessions spread over eight months.

 There is help for those who suffer from social anxiety disorder. If you feel that your symptoms match this disorder, feel free to reach out for help.

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