Category Archives: Treatments

Social Anxiety Therapy – How to Find the Right Therapist

how to find the right therapist, master social anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is treatable yet so few are treated. Although medication is available, social anxiety therapy options such as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is the treatment recommended for social anxiety.

This form of social anxiety therapy is designed to teach you behavioral techniques that you can do without a therapist, eventually making you your own therapist. Essentially, this method of therapy gives you back control of your life.

Success depends greatly on having the right therapist. Not all therapists are created equal. One may be trained extensively, while another might be stronger in other areas of anxiety disorders.   Below you will find information to help you find and choose the right therapist for you.

With Insurance Coverage

If you have insurance coverage the best place to acquire a list of therapists in your area usually requires a phone call from the number on the back of your insurance card. You could also search by state to Find a Therapist on the Psychology Today website. However, it may be best to ask for a referral from your primary doctor, as some insurance carriers require this.

Without Insurance Coverage

If you don’t have health insurance, there is still hope. In fact, many therapist offer a sliding scale based on income. On their website, ADAA.org (the Anxiety Disorder Association of American) offers options for people with little or no insurance. While there, you can also search for a therapist by state.

Local health centers may offer mental health services at low or no cost as these organizations are funded by the state. Check HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) to find a health center near you.

If you are a college student, check with the psychology department for low cost social anxiety therapy options that may be available. Although sometimes limited to students only, some universities offer open sessions with graduate students for people who don’t attend the college or university.

Medicaid or Medicare

Medicaid offers mental health for United States citizens with low income who qualify. Likewise, for those over 65, Medicare is another option for those with low income.

Making the Call

Once, you’ve formed a list of at least three to five therapist in your area, making the initial call to schedule an appointment can be nerve-wracking so take your time.

Take a deep breath and remember that the office on the other end of the line are filled with professionals that can help and have helped many people overcome their fears through social anxiety therapy.

Interview the receptionist to make sure that this therapist is experienced in social anxiety therapy. Also address cost and if a sliding scale is available. Explain that you would like to meet with the therapist first before making a decision.

Once all is confirmed, set up an appointment for an initial meeting.  It’s best to make each appointment per therapist on different days.

Choosing the Right Therapist

Most experts agree that it best to meet with several, at least three to five, therapist before make your choice. Although, checking a therapist’s credentials are important, being comfortable with your therapist is equally if not more important.

Your first appointment is just a screening for you to get a better feel for the therapist and to ask questions before making your decision.

Take notice of how the therapist makes you feel. If you don’t get a good feeling than honor that feeling and move on to the next appointment.

Best of luck with with your social anxiety therapy!

Arnov

Social Anxiety Treatment Options

master social anxiety

There are dozens of social anxiety treatment options but the most effect options usually fall into three main strategies. Social anxiety treatment is done through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, social skills training, or social anxiety medications.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral therapy has been found to be the most effective form of social anxiety treatment. The principle behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that it is our interpretations of events that affect how we feel, not the actual events themselves. CBT aims to cure debilitating anxieties through the use of goal-oriented, structured therapy sessions.

Although your past experiences are responsible for your present fears and anxieties you cannot go back in time and change them. CBT therapists realize this so they only focus on the present moment and what action steps can be taken now to overcome social anxiety. Two main aspects of CBT that are helpful for treating social anxiety disorder and social phobia are:

Cognitive restructuring
The main goal of Cognitive restructuring is to identify, challenge, and replace negative thoughts. It works in three steps:

  1. Patients identify the negative thoughts they have about themselves and other people.
  2. Patients learn to challenge these negative and often irrational thoughts
  3. Patients learn to develop rational arguments against these irrational thoughts

Systematic desensitization:
This is a social anxiety treatment procedure which gradually exposes patients to their fears. You can sit in a psychiatrist’s office for years while they analyze every aspect of your life, but you will not see dramatically results unless you put yourself out there.

Although this may sound scary it is absolutely necessarily. Patients first learn how to stay calm using relaxation techniques. They are exposed to fears in a very controlled and progressive way with the therapist helping them every step of the way.

Social skills Training

People with social anxiety often feel they lack the social skills required to interact with other people. Social skills trainings aims to help people improve their conversation skills, teach them how to be more assertive, and develop better social intuition. Other skills that are taught include improving their vocal projection, body language, and listening skills.

For more resources to help you develop social skills visit the social skills section of our website.

Medications

Medication can also be a very affective social anxiety treatment option. The three most popular medications for social anxiety treatment are:

Antidepressants
Antidepressants are the most popular medical treatment for the treatment of social anxiety disorder and social phobia. Paxil, Zoloftand, and Effexor  are antidepressants that have been proven to be the most affective.

Benzodiazepines
They are fast acting drugs that can lower anxiety. Clonazapam and Alprazolam have been studied the most for their effects on lowering anxiety. However, due to their powerful sedative and addictive potential, antidepressants are preferred over benzodiazepines for the long term management of social anxiety disorder and social phobia.

Beta blockers
Beta blockers are used to treat the physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder/ social phobia such as rapid heartbeat and shaking. However, they do not treat the emotional and psychological symptoms such as nervousness and anxious thinking. A common used beta blocker is propranolol.

For a more detailed explanation of medications used for the treatment of social anxiety disorder and social phobia click here

 

Social Anxiety Medication


master social anxiety

The use of social anxiety medication may temporarily relieve feelings of anxiety but they are not a long term solution. If you do choose to use medication the best thing to do is use it in combination with other treatments much as cognitive behavioral therapy. Stopping the use of social anxiety medication may cause the symptoms to come back even stronger.

We live in a society that chooses to medicate everything. Can’t focus? Take Ritalin. Can’t lose weight? There are a plethora of diet pills on the market and most of them are rubbish. Can’t control your cholesterol? Forget about healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle, there’s a pill for that.

Don’t take my cynicism to mean that medication doesn’t have a place. My problem is with the fundamental believe that you don’t need to take action to improve your life, and that a simple pill will cure all your ailments.

I always recommend people try to cure their social anxiety naturally without the use of social anxiety medication. That being said the use of medication can be very beneficial for those with severe anxiety problems. The three most common drugs used to treat social anxiety are:

Antidepressants

There are three groups of antidepressants that have been proven to help with social anxiety

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): the most popular social anxiety medication treatments are SSRIs. SSRI stand for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin is believed to play a role in depression (which is often correlated with social anxiety).

SSRIs work by preventing the reuptake of serotonin, which allows more of it to remain in your system. This helps increase mood and lower levels of anxiety. Think of serotonin as the happy chemical in your body.

Paxil and Zoloft are antidepressants that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of social anxiety. Others include:

  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Luvox

Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs are like SSRIs except that they work on both the serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters in the brain. Effexor  is an SNRI that has been shown to be effective social anxiety medication.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs are not often used to treat social anxiety anymore due to numerous side effects and dangerous food interactions. Therefore it is often used as a last resort. However, MAOIs have been proven to work in some cases.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are fast acting drugs that lower anxiety. They should only be used as a short term solution, because they have a powerful sedating effect and are addictive. That is the reason SSRIs are preferred for long term management of social anxiety.

Clonazapam and Alprazolam  are have been studied the most for their effects on lowering social anxiety. Other benzodiazepines that have been proven to lower anxiety are:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan

Beta blockers

Beta blockers are medications used to lower the physical symptoms of social anxiety (such as sweating palms and rapid heartbeat). However, they do not fix the emotional symptoms of social anxiety such as anxious thoughts.

Beta blockers are not a very effective treatment for general social anxiety, but they can be effective for certain performance related anxieties such as having to give a speech or play an instrument in front of a large crowd. An example of a commonly used beta blocker is propranolol.

Social anxiety medication should never be thought of as a quick fix. Drugs temporarily relieve symptoms and they often have negative side effects. The medication should always be used in conjunction with therapy and self-help techniques that get to the root of your social anxiety.

It’s also possible to beat social anxiety without the help of any drugs at all. However, if you truly believe you could benefit from certain medications talk to a qualified psychiatrist who has lots of positive references from other clients. Here’s a link to help you find one. A shady psychiatrist who doesn’t care about their patients and just medicates them can do more harm than good.

Social anxiety medication is just a part of the overall process in your transformation into a healthier, confident, and vibrant individual.

If any of you have had success with any medications please leave a comment below. I hope you enjoyed this article.

Best of luck!

Arnov Rahman