Social anxiety is a common mental health condition. Yet, you might not hear a lot of people talking about it if they suffer from it, simply because part of the problem associated with this condition is having an inability to open up to others.
What Is Social Anxiety?
According to WebMD, social anxiety is also referred to as social phobia, and it is characterized by an overwhelming amount of fear when it comes to being in a social situation.
Whether it means going on a date, speaking in public, having dinner at a restaurant, or going to a party with friends, social anxiety can stop people from enjoying their lives because they are incapable of handling these types of situations with ease.
On top of that, people who have social anxiety might even experience a low amount of self-esteem, along with depression, and they typically end up isolating themselves from others in order to avoid as much stress as possible.
Also, individuals who have social anxiety disorder frequently misread opinions and social situations, to the point that they feel, incorrectly, that others are criticizing or judging them. Symptoms typically start to appear around the age of 13 and will often go unreported for around ten years after they first developed.
An Alternative to Medications for Social Anxiety
One of the most common remedies for social anxiety is medication. But, now there is something else that people can turn to, especially if they want to avoid or limit their use of prescription medications for their mental health.
The results of a study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University with the support of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America have been published within the JAMA Psychiatry journal and have suggested that social anxiety sufferers may not need to rely on medication to ease their symptoms.
In fact, the research stated that there could be an alternative to medication in the form of behavioral social anxiety therapy. This can help to very effectively reduce the symptoms of social anxiety. This condition impacts the daily lives of approximately 15 million people throughout the United States.
Diving Deeper into This Research on Social Anxiety Therapy
The researchers at Stanford University applied functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to study the activity in the brain among sufferers of social anxiety disorder. They continued to use fMRIs to observe the impact on sufferers who were receiving cognitive behavioral therapy. There were 16 total scans throughout a period of four months.
What they discovered was that the patients who underwent the therapy experienced a considerable increase in the brain activity within the areas that were connected with controlling emotions. Those who underwent the social anxiety therapy were taught how to alter the way that they cope with their emotional responses to various situations.
For example, an individual whose initial thought was “no one likes me” received instruction for re-framing their negative thoughts. This allowed them to remind themselves that some people do actually them, or that this was merely a belief and was not a fact. It was nothing more than a thought.
The Promise of Social Anxiety Therapy
The findings of this study are very promising, as many of the people who have this condition rely on medications – often antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications – in order to help to keep the symptoms of social anxiety under control. It is important for these individuals to receive assistance because if it is left untreated, it can develop into agoraphobia , which is a crippling fear of crowds and open spaces. It can lead people to become home-bound and cut off communication with other people.
The medications used for these treatments are not always fully effective and are associated with certain side effects and can be addictive. Alternative treatments are often greatly desired by sufferers and social anxiety therapy is a bright new option to explore.
More Advice on Social Anxiety Therapy and Other Treatments
Perhaps social anxiety therapy will be all that you need to get your mental health back into a state of balance. But, if that is not enough, a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medications might be the best thing for you. A doctor is the only one who can really decide the best path for you to take, so don’t be afraid to seek help.
Here are some things to consider as you work towards finding the right treatment:
- You might need to complete up to 16 social anxiety therapy sessions, during which you’ll acquire new skills, while building up your self-confidence, to experience social situations with a sense of ease. So, stick it out and be consistent and patient in your efforts.
- Antidepressants might help you cope with your social anxiety more effectively.
- You can even take steps in your everyday life to take better care of your mind and body. Doing things like exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and getting plenty of sleep might all help you face your social phobias more effectively.
Are You Interested in Social Anxiety Therapy?
Although it might be difficult for you to open up about your social anxiety, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor or a therapist who can help you find the right remedy for your social phobia. The sooner that you seek treatment, the sooner you can start to feel better by overcoming your fear.