You Don't Have to Struggle With Social Anxiety

Jul 30, 2009
You Don't Have to Struggle With Social Anxiety

(PhysOrg.com) -- To a certain extent, just about everyone has some sort of social anxiety -- from the reluctance to chat with an airplane seat mate to the nervousness that comes with public speaking.

The problem, psychiatry specialists with UC Physicians say, comes when the anxiety interferes with your ability to function in your daily life. In other words, shyness isn’t a drawback if you’re a lighthouse keeper, but it is if you’re selling encyclopedias door-to-door.

“Most people never seek treatment for ,” says Stephen Strakowski, MD, chair of the department at the University of Cincinnati and a UC physician. “They just struggle their way through life and limit some of their activities.”

But there is a point, Strakowski says, at which treatment should be considered:

“The key question is: Is it impacting your life? Is it damaging your work or , your marriage, your interactions with your kids? If it is, it’s considered an impairment or a disorder, and it’s at that point that you should seek treatment.”

Treatment for social anxiety problems, according to Strakowski, generally begins with .

“That’s not ‘couch therapy,’” Strakowski points out. “It’s a very pragmatic interactive therapy where you identify specific behaviors that you want to change—in this case, how to interact with others.”

Treatment starts with relaxation techniques, then proceeds to a series of exposures that help patients manage their anxiety.

If your fear is public speaking, for example, a therapist might have you simply imagine yourself speaking to a room full of people. You would progress through increasingly more difficult exposures, such as practicing a speech in front of family members, then friends, as you work toward your goal.

In some cases, Strakowski says, a medication such as Inderal that reduces nervous system arousal can be used to address the peripheral responses to social anxieties such as sweating and elevated heart rate. “Those responses can make you even more nervous,” Strakowski says, “so if you can stop them, you might prevent some of the anxiety.”

If the social anxiety persists, antidepressants or anxiety medications might be used for a short time to work through exposures, Strakowski says, “but most people can improve with behavioral intervention if they stick with it.”

Provided by University of Cincinnati (news : web)

Explore further: Report advocates improved police training

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facing fears early may reduce childhood anxiety

Oct 29, 2008

Helping children face their fears may be more productive than focusing on other techniques to help them manage their anxieties, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent ...

Childhood anxiety disorders can and should be treated

Dec 24, 2008

Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents should be recognized and treated to prevent educational underachievement and adult substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression, says a nationally recognized child psychiatrist ...

Genetic predisposition may play a role in anxiety disorders

Aug 27, 2008

Finnish scientists have identified genes that may predispose to anxiety disorders. Research conducted under the supervision of Academy Research Fellow Iiris Hovatta have focused on genes that influence human behaviour, and ...

Recommended for you

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

Meaningful relationships can help you thrive

Aug 29, 2014

Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being. Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being ...

Learning to read involves tricking the brain

Aug 29, 2014

While reading, children and adults alike must avoid confusing mirror-image letters (like b/d or p/q). Why is it difficult to differentiate these letters? When learning to read, our brain must be able to inhibit ...

User comments : 0