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Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication are the two primary methods of treating social anxiety disorder (SAD). When used alone or in combination, these forms of treatment have been shown to greatly improve symptoms of social anxiety. In addition, a number of alternative therapies are currently being investigated and may prove helpful in the future.
  1. Therapy
  2. Changing Negative Thinking
  3. Medication
  4. Alternative Treatments
  5. Self-Help Strategies

Therapy

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), both in individual and group settings, is an effective form of therapy for SAD and is usually the first choice in terms of therapeutic treatment. Other forms of therapy (such as psychodynamic and interpersonal) have been used with SAD. However, the effectiveness of these treatments is still being investigated.

Changing Negative Thinking

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Negative thought patterns play a role in the development and maintenance of social anxiety. Most types of therapy work to address the negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety symptoms. In addition, many self-help strategies include a component that helps you to reduce the frequency of negative thinking.

Medication

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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the primary form of medication used for treating SAD, although other medications such as benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) have been used. Paxil (paroxetine) was the first medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating SAD.

Alternative Treatments

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Herbal supplements are one example of alternative treatment strategies employed by people diagnosed with SAD. Although these are not well-validated methods for treating SAD, they may be worth considering as coping strategies or as alternatives if traditional treatment methods prove ineffective.

Self-Help Strategies

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Self-help strategies for coping with SAD are generally best used as a complement to traditional treatments. Self-help strategies can include anything from relaxation strategies to self-administered exposure training. If you have already received formal treatment or have only mild social anxiety, you may find these types of strategies helpful.

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