Social anxiety disorder (SAD) affects an estimated 7.1% of adult Americans in a given year. SAD is a disorder that involves a persistent fear of one or more social performance situations in which a person is exposed to unfamiliar people or potential rejection from others. In other words, a person with SAD often have anxiety that they will do something to humiliate themselves. Symptoms of SAD typically emerge in 3 categories:
- Physical: Blushing, sweating, shortness of breath, chills, chest tightness, blurred vision, headaches, diarrhea, and more.
- Cognitive: Negative thoughts, negative bias (discounting positive social experiences
- Behavioral: Avoiding certain people or situations, using safety behaviors, leaving or escaping social situations
If you’ve been struggling with SAD, you may feel that your disorder will never get better. This belief is quite false, however; there are a variety of effective treatments that have shown you can recover from this. There are a number of tools and resources that you can use to help correct distorted thinking and perceptions, leading you to reduced stress and anxiety.
A 2014 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry sought to explore what interventions have been most effective for adults with SAD. Researchers analyzed many previous studies done on the subject to gather themes of effective interventions, totaling 13,164 participants. A number of successful interventions emerged:
- Medication – benzodiazepines, SSRIs, anticonvulsants, and more
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – a therapy approach that involves changes old, negative patterns of thought into newer, more productive ones
- Exposure and social skills – education and practice with social skills in a safe, therapeutic setting
- Psychotherapy – working with a therapist to talk about past, present and future concerns
Many reputable treatment centers offer a variety of these interventions, and you may even combine a few of them into your treatment regime. Since each person is different, it’s important that you move forward with a treatment center that places priority on customizable programs to ensure you receive the best care.
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