Social anxiety disorder does more than just disrupt a sufferer’s life – it turns his or her world upside down. What’s more, this disorder not only affects the person suffering from it, but his or her family and friends as well. Imagine having a child who is counting on you to show up at her ballet recital… only you can’t, because the thought of being in social situations leaves you feeling frozen.
Unfortunately, many people don’t seek social anxiety disorder treatment. Many times, they think the symptoms of social anxiety disorder are just a normal part of everyday life, so they just learn to live with the disorder. Other times, sufferers may suspect they have social anxiety disorder, but may be afraid to seek treatment – often, because they fear being labeled as crazy or abnormal.
The truth is, though, you don’t have to live with the pain of social anxiety disorder. Suffering from this condition doesn’t make you crazy or weak – it simply means that you have a challenge to overcome. Refusing to seek social anxiety disorder treatment is far worse than accepting that you need help.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatments that can reduce or eliminate the effect that social anxiety disorder has on your life. In many cases, your doctor will take a multi-faceted approach, employing several strategies to help you effectively cope with this condition.
Antidepressants and anti anxiety medications are frequently used in social anxiety disorder treatment, particularly during the first few months after a patient is diagnosed with the condition. Depression often goes hand in hand with social anxiety disorder, and can be difficult to manage without medication – particularly when the patient is also dealing with anxiety, guilt, and self blame at the same time.
Social anxiety disorder, when coupled with depression, also leads to substance abuse for many sufferers. Unfortunately, substance abuse only worsens these conditions. Your doctor may suggest substance abuse counseling as part of your social anxiety disorder treatment – if you have trouble with substance abuse, it will be very difficult to overcome social anxiety disorder until you eliminate alcohol, drugs, and other substances from your life.
Several types of counseling may also be used as part of your social anxiety disorder treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common counseling approach – this type of therapy helps you identity the social situations and anxieties that provoke symptoms. You may feel a bit uncomfortable when you begin to address the causes of your anxiety; however, doing this is a critical part of your recovery.
Exposure therapy is also frequently used as a part of social anxiety disorder therapy. Your counselor will direct you to imagine the events that provoke your disorder, so that you will be able to overcome the fear associated with these situations. Because the confrontation takes place in a safe, controlled environment, you will have a good chance of working past your fears, so you can once again participate in social events.
Social skills training may also be used to help you cope with distressing social situations. Through rehearsing and role playing, you will develop the skills you need to approach these situations with a sense of confidence and calmness. As you become more comfortable with social events, you will be able to handle them without stress or worry.