A Short Guide to Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health problems in the world and is characterised by a fear of social situations and interacting with other people. There are various methods of treatment, each of which is suitable for different people. This short guide explains social anxiety disorder in detail, from the initial symptoms to the available treatments, which include medication and hypnotherapy.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder has several distinct symptoms, which help to differentiate it from simple shyness. The NHS describes these symptoms in detail, but the most common symptom is frequent worry or dread about social situations, such as meeting new people, working outside the home and answering the phone. You may also feel worried about doing embarrassing things, or worry that people are watching or judging you. This can come with physical symptoms, such as shaking, nausea, trembling or a fast, pounding heartbeat. If you feel that these symptoms apply to you, and that they are adversely affecting your life, your first step should be to speak to your GP.

Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder

For most people, a consultation with a GP is the first step towards being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. They will then be referred to a mental health specialist, who will be able to give you a more concrete diagnosis. This diagnosis is usually based on a discussion of your life and symptoms, and sometimes on questionnaires about what you have experienced. After a diagnosis has been made, your treatment can be discussed. 

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

There are many treatments available for social anxiety disorder, and your GP or psychiatrist will be able to advise you on which is most suitable. The Social Anxiety Association explains that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common and effective, as it works to change your thoughts, beliefs and feelings about yourself and your social situation. Another popular treatment is hypnotherapy, which is explained in more detail by Anxiety UK. Hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for anxiety, which relies on using relaxation techniques to reduce your levels of stress and anxiety. 

The Royal College of Psychiatrists also explains that there are medications that are suitable for treating social anxiety, such as antidepressants and beta-blockers. However, many practitioners believe in trying self-help, therapy, and anxiety hypnotherapy before trying medication, as these less invasive treatments often have excellent success rates.

Dealing with social anxiety disorder can feel overwhelming, as it impacts on your personal relationships and professional life. If you are worried about anxiety, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible, so they can advise you about the range of treatments available, from CBT to hypnotherapy to medication.