Social Anxiety: There is Hope
Social anxiety disorder is only difficult to treat for one reason; the nature of the disease makes it hard for the sufferer to reach out and ask for help. Often they are afraid of being judged for their disorder, and their social fears keep them from wanting to look foolish or defective in therapy. Once someone with SAD can get beyond their fears, there is a wealth of treatment options available. There are answers. Here are a few options.
In exposure therapy, patients are taught skills to use in anxiety provoking situations that help them quell that sense of overwhelming panic. Then they are encouraged to expose themselves to situations which they would normally avoid due to their anxiety and use these skills. After they’ve accomplished this a few times, they will realize that their fears are unfounded, and the anxiety will be gradually extinguished.
Cognitive restructuring is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy in which patients are taught to identify the thoughts that cause their anxiety. It is based on the idea that our thoughts and perceptions of situations are what cause our emotions in those situations. By learning to control their thoughts and direct them in a more positive, non-biased direction, the sufferer can change their feeling from one of debilitating anxiety to a more open and functioning emotion.
Relaxation training can be used in conjunction with the two above to strengthen the sufferer’s control over the physical symptoms of their anxiety. In relaxation training, the patient learns different methods of controlling the amount of physical tension they experience in a stressful situation. They might learn stretching, yoga, or exercise techniques that they can use when anxiety arises.
Social skills training teaches people how to improve the way they behave in social situations. Leaning better social skills can help a person with SAD feel more confident when called on to interact with others. Not all people who suffer with SAD have issues with their social skills, so this therapy might not benefit everyone.
As you realize through therapeutic techniques that social anxiety is an attitudinal and behavioral response as well as a physical one, they will begin to understand the amount of control they have over the disorder. The power is in your hands.