Social anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety. About 12% of American adults experience symptoms of social anxiety at some point in their lives — and it can have a significant impact on happiness and quality of life.
Social anxiety is characterized by feelings of intense nervousness or fear in social situations. While it’s often associated with things like public speaking, it can develop with any social interaction, including meeting new people or even going out in public.
If you have social anxiety, you know how debilitating it can feel. Fortunately, there are ways to manage it. Our psychiatry and psychotherapy team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates specializes in telehealth for social anxiety, and we’re here to help you.
Methods for managing social anxiety
Social anxiety can interfere with work, school, and your relationships with those you love. It’s a very real mental health condition, but there are several ways to manage social anxiety and improve your ability to function in social situations. Here’s what we recommend:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the most effective methods of psychotherapy for social anxiety. CBT focuses on identifying and changing the negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to your anxiety.
During therapy, you learn how to recognize and challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic ones. Your therapist also teaches you coping strategies to help you manage anxiety in social situations.
Exposure therapy is another method that can help you gradually face and overcome your fears around social interactions. In this type of therapy, you and your therapist work together to gradually expose you to anxiety-inducing situations.
You start with the least anxiety-provoking situation and work up to more challenging ones. This type of therapy helps you gain a more realistic sense of the situations you fear to reduce the anxiety associated with them.
Along with therapy, your provider may recommend medication to manage social anxiety. Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been shown to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder.
These medications work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in your brain to relieve symptoms of anxiety. If you choose medication, it's important to work closely with our team to find the right medication and dosage that works for you.
Practicing relaxation techniques can also help you manage your social anxiety. A few examples include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga.
These techniques can calm your body and mind, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. Getting in the habit of practicing relaxation techniques regularly can help you build a sense of control over your mind, which can make social situations feel less intimidating.
Last but not least, support groups for social anxiety can provide a sense of community and validation. It may sound counterintuitive, but being around others who are going through similar experiences can help to reduce feelings of isolation and shame. It's also a great way to share tips and advice for managing social anxiety.
Social anxiety can be debilitating, but you don’t have to let it control your life. It's okay to ask for help, and our team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates is here for you. Call or request an appointment online to get started.