Social anxiety is a crippling mental health condition that can make it difficult for people to interact with others. This can make it challenging for people with social anxiety disorder—also known as social phobia—to make friends, communicate with strangers, and work.
Social anxiety disorder is common. It’s estimated that 15 million Americans have social phobia, making it one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. People with social phobia who are struggling to cope in a world built for extroverts can use these strategies to manage their condition.
Seek treatment from a licensed mental health professional.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a standard psychotherapy treatment and one of the most effective ways to treat social anxiety. You may opt to receive CBT treatment from a clinical psychologist or a marriage and family therapist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between what you think with how you act and feel. Mental health professionals use CBT to change their patients’ thinking and alter their behavior and feelings.
People with social phobia typically associate some social situations with anxiety, and they learn to manage their condition by avoiding those types of social situations. Psychologists and therapists use CBT to replace harmful internal dialogue that emphasizes the person’s social anxiety and causes them to withdraw from social interaction with a healthy internal dialogue that enables them to face social situations without experiencing a panic attack or any other discomfort. CBT is one of the most effective treatment options for people with social anxiety. Many people with this disorder who receive cognitive-behavioral therapy can learn practical management strategies and engage socially without needing other treatment options.
People with social anxiety use CBT to identify situations that trigger their disorder, such as meeting new people, interacting with a large group of people, going to job interviews, or experiencing situations at work or school that require public speaking. Their psychologist helps them develop strategies that increase their confidence and reduce their anxiety in those social situations. Their psychologist may guide them through dozens of situations as part of their treatment.
Consider using medication.
Some people who have social anxiety may need to use medication. Taking antidepressants can be expensive, but the online drug guide makes it possible to find discounts on the medications you need. USA Rx also has a mobile app, making it easy to find affordable antidepressants from any location. People with social anxiety disorder may take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved SSRIs such as Zoloft and Paxil to treat social anxiety disorder. FDA-approved serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) for social anxiety include Desvenlafaxine and Venlafaxine. People with social phobia may also be prescribed benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam, diazepam, and alprazolam.
Therapists and psychologists don’t prescribe medication. You’ll need to see your primary care physician or a psychiatrist to receive a prescription. You should also be aware of the potential side effects of taking medication. SSRIs can trigger side effects, such as diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, and dry mouth. Common side effects for SNRIs include fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and sexual dysfunction. If you take benzodiazepines, you may be affected by dizziness, memory problems, or muscle weakness.
Use supplemental strategies to manage your anxiety.
Activities that reduce stress include exercise, meditation, guided imagery, controlled breathing, muscle relaxation, and Yoga. You can also benefit from monitoring your diet and ensuring you avoid foods that can trigger anxiety. Some foods are known for helping with mood regulation. You can opt for dark chocolate instead of potato chips, because dark chocolate contains flavonoids that help to regulate your mood. Choose fatty fish, such as salmon, instead of red meat, because fatty fish are loaded with omega-3s that combat depression. You can also manage your moods with foods such as yogurt, bananas, oatmeal, granola, berries, nuts, beans, and coffee. Foods with probiotics, amino acids that promote serotonin production, vitamin B, and antioxidants can all be consumed as part of a diet plan supporting your mental health.
Identify your strengths and use them.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses can help you create positive self-talk to manage your anxiety disorder and help you succeed in social situations. One way to do this is to take the Myers-Briggs type indicator questionnaire. The Myers-Briggs test determines which of the 16 personality types you belong to. There are four main dimensions explored in a Myers-Briggs test, and each dimension has two categories. When you take the test, you’ll learn which category you’re in for each dimension. The first dimension determines if you’re an extrovert or introvert. Extraversion (E) and introversion (I) are about where you put your attention. The second dimension looks at how you receive information. You can be sensing (S) or intuitive (N). Thinking (T) and feeling (F) make up the third dimension, and identify your decision-making method. You may handle the world through judging (J) or perceiving (P), which are the two categories in the fourth dimension.
Once you take the test, you’ll be able to determine which of the personality types you belong to. The introversion personality types are INTJ, INTP, INFJ, INFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ISTP, and ISFP. The extroversion personality types are ENTJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ENFP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ESTP, and ESFP. Each type has a title and belongs to a personality group. For example, ISTJs are logisticians. They’re part of the sentinel personality group. ISTJs are logical and have a strong sense of duty. Their analytical skills make them ideal accountants and financial analysts. Identifying your personality type can help you identify your core strengths and exploit social, career, and academic situations where you’ll thrive.
You can use CBT to develop effective strategies to manage your social anxiety. Other effective social anxiety disorder strategies include medication and activities that reduce stress. You can also benefit from identifying your personality type and focusing on your strengths.