Social Anxiety Disorder is a complex disorder with a wide range of symptoms, triggers, and fears. To make this disorder even more complex, the symptoms and degree of intensity of these symptoms will vary from one individual to the next. This can make for a complex method of treatment for Social Anxiety, and as such, many different methods may be used in conjunction with one another as a means of treating Social Anxiety Disorder. To further the complexity of treating Social Anxiety, this disorder is often undetected in an individual for years before they seek treatment. During those years of developing the disorder, one will develop fears that lead to disconnected behaviours that intensify with time. Because of this, a multi-faceted approach will be taken to any treatment approach. Here you will find the top three treatment approaches used to treat those suffering with Social Anxiety Disorder.
The first approach to treating Social Anxiety Disorder is in the reduction of anxiety symptoms. Anybody that has ever experienced anxiety, either mild, acute, or chronic, understands that anxiety can cause physical symptoms that are uncomfortable. These include breathing problems, heart or chest related problems, increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension, and a wide range of additional physical symptoms. These symptoms are increased when the individual is experiencing the fears that cause this disorder. Reducing these symptoms will be the first course of action in any treatment plan.
Eliminating or reducing negative thought patterns will be the next step in treatment. Because this disorder relies on distorted thinking in order to fuel fears and irrational behaviour, it is necessary to change these thought patterns in order for healthy functioning to occur. In treatment for social anxiety, these thoughts will be challenged by a therapist in order to reduce these negative cognitions or eliminate them all together. When an individual is no longer thinking “I’ll look stupid if I speak up” then they will no longer exhibit the behaviour of “not speaking up” because they do not have the underlying cognitions that are preventing them from doing so.
Facing one’s fears is the third and final step of treating Social Anxiety Disorder. Facing social situations is the greatest fear from those suffering because they truly believe something bad will happen to them when they do so. Confronting these fears is a means of confronting the demons of the Social Anxious individual. This form of treatment shows the sufferer that when they face these social situations head on, they will see that no, nothing bad will happen to them, and they will be more adequately equipped to deal with these situations in the future. Because this is the scariest and most intense form of treatment, this method occurs in the last stages of treatment for social anxiety, and will occur in a series of baby steps with gradual intensity increasing with time until the individual feels equipped to handle these situations on their own.