For years, many people, to include medical professionals, did not believe in social disorders. In fact, most thought symptoms were “all in a person’s head” but thanks to in-depth research and studies, it has been confirmed these are very real. While there are many types of social phobias, we wanted to focus on just one as an example. In this article, we felt it important to offer insight into options for Social Anxiety Disorder treatment, but also causes, symptoms, and testing.
For someone with this particular disorder, there are ongoing irrational fears of different circumstances and situations. The thoughts that a person has involve scrutiny and judgment. While symptoms can be triggered when dealing with someone one-on-one, most often the trigger is while in a social setting.
It is hard enough dealing with symptoms of a social phobia when just one person is involved but when surrounded by a large number of people, the individual quickly becomes overwhelmed. Even when symptoms are mild, this particular disorder can be devastating but for the more severe cases, a person’s life could be nearly impossible to manage.
According to experts, this and other social phobias are categorized as varying levels of shyness. For someone who is only slightly shy, being in a social setting would be uncomfortable but when the level of shyness is extensive, this individual would have a difficult time maintaining friendships, working a normal job, attending school, and in some cases, being in public at all. The following are examples of the difficulties someone with this disorder would experience:
- Attending school or working
- Going to social events of any kind
- Eating or drinking while in public
- Speaking in public
- Using public restrooms
- Meeting new people on any level
Keep in mind that once a person has been given a firm diagnosis, it would be imperative for certain environments to be avoided. In addition, this condition is usually exaggerated by the use of alcohol or illicit drug use, as well as isolation and often results in a kind of depression. However, knowing the things to avoid coupled with the right Social Anxiety Disorder treatment makes it possible for an individual would have a much better chance of living a happy and productive life.
Getting a Diagnosis
Gathering information about any family history of social phobia would be critical before the right Social Anxiety Disorder treatment could be discussed. This would include information not only for the individual suffering from symptoms but also family members. As part of this, friends and family might be asked to provide insight into the individual’s behavior.
From a physical standpoint, there are two specific things that a doctor would look for to include increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Although these symptoms are not always associated with someone having a problem, they could be. More common would be symptoms of shyness in conjunction with the degree of trouble being experienced.
Regardless of the treatment or treatment being considered, the ultimate goal would involve making the person feel more comfortable and improving daily function. In milder cases, a person would begin to show signs of improvement within weeks or months whereas for more serious cases, it could take several months to years to achieve the outcome wanted. Because of this, the individual with the phobia would need to be dedicated to the process and determined to success.
One particular treatment used is known as “Systematic Desensitization”. With this, the person would be encouraged to relaxed during which time the dynamics of the problem would be visualized. For this to work, focus would start on the things that are less fearful, slowly moving to more dramatic scenarios. As the person begins to face fears, it becomes easier to unravel reason and complexity.
It is also common for a person to undergo sessions to learn social skills. Often, someone with this disorder has become very socially awkward. Empowering the individual with tools and knowledge helps to eventually make that person less fearful and much more confident.
While more and more people prefer alternative treatment options, there are cases where antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication would be prescribed. Typically, medication would be taken at the start of other treatments to ease symptoms, making it easier to learn social skills and distress. There are many different drugs available but those prescribed most often include:
- Beta Blockers
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
For alternative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and group therapy tend to be the most effective. Remember, part of Social Anxiety Disorder treatment is avoiding certain situations. As a whole, this increases the chance of success for overcoming fear and the person living an amazing life that includes social settings.