Treatment of Social Anxiety

When you have social anxiety, you have a choice:

  • Medications work; and
  • a short-term, simple therapy is also effective.

I’d like to emphasize two things:

1. There is a psychotherapy approach which may work as well or better than medications (see “behavior therapy” in the link below).

2. Social anxiety is very common in people who also have severe mood swings. Many people with such swings have bipolar variations.  However, some people have “confidence swings” too. They can go through periods of time where they are very socially confident; and other periods where they feel intense anxiety symptoms even thinking about meeting someone new. These people have something more than “social phobia”; they may have a version of bipolar II that includes confidence swings. They need to know that the medications used to treat social phobia can make bipolar disorder worse. By contrast, behavior therapy does not make bipolar disorder worse. And there’s the point: it’s nice to know that there’s another way to treat these symptoms, if they are still a problem after mood symptoms have been treated, without having to use an antidepressant medication.

When you go looking for treatment, make sure that you are offered the option of a time-limited “cognitive behavioral therapy” for social phobia. Have a look around the Internet for details. Here’s one reasonably balanced presentation, with a appropriate emphasis on CBT.