How to Overcome Social Anxiety
Guest Author: David Hamilton
Everyone that has social anxiety wishes they didn’t have it. It’s a crippling, freezing fear that comes over you not only in social situations, but also in just thinking about them. So how do you overcome social anxiety as a sufferer of this condition?
Seek out help for your social anxiety
The first step, which can be the most difficult, is to seek out help. Don’t be resigned to believing that you’ll always have to feel this way and never learn how to be relaxed in social situations. Many people have done it, including me. So I urge you to start seeking help immediately.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety: Therapy
Therapy is the best option for treatment. What therapy does is help you to see and feel your life experience and your social anxiety in new ways. It aims to proactively help to change you and your patterns of thinking and feeling. There are many different therapy modalities out there, with the most commonly used therapy for social anxiety being cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), currently.
Traditional CBT is a directive based therapy where you learn to challenge beliefs about yourself, other people and social situations, and reprogram your thinking to more healthy and balanced beliefs.
I believe that the most recent therapy modalities that have evolved from traditional CBT like Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are even more powerful. These therapies don’t attempt to change anxious thoughts and feelings directly, but your relationship with them instead. Then it’s as if you can choose the thoughts you want, because you aren’t forcing your brain convince itself of “positive” thinking or even “rational” thinking, though they do help. Learning to be mindful allows acceptance of whatever you’re feeling, so you can engage in your life no matter what kind of fear or anxiety shows up. It is very powerful stuff, and is tricky at first, but well-worth learning to do.
Alternative Option: Therapy with Medication
I usually don’t recommend this option, but after a deep conversation with a friend who is a therapist, she widened my viewpoint. She mentioned how some people have so much anxiety that they need to experience a baseline and it can help them to get to ground, if they have tried therapy and made little progress. So be warned ahead of time when considering medication, as the side effects could be great, and There are two classes of medication prescribed for social anxiety disorder.
Since I’ve mentioned medication, I think you should be informed about the commonly prescribed tyes of meds. First there are benzodiapenes like Xanax and Klonopin might be prescribed to you, and these are in the first class of medication. They do have an anxiety suppressing effect, however they are highly addictive and not recommended for long term resolution. The second class of medication is known as SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These are designed for more long term use and attempt to change the brain chemistry. Common SSRIs are Zoloft, Paxil and Lexapro. It seems these are a better option than benzodiapenes as far as medication is concerned, though I am still very wary of medication, and have heard many stories of it not helping people in the long-run.
I am a pretty firm believer that the therapeutic approach is the one most people should opt for overcoming their social anxiety. Medication should only be used in the most dire of circumstances, and then one should ween themselves off of it. Of course, I am not a medical professional, so that’s just my opinion as someone who used a therapeutic approach to overcome social anxiety. The decision is yours ultimately, and best of luck with overcoming social anxiety. I sincerely hope you will be able to resolve your suffering once and for all.
David Hamilton is owner, author and coach at SocialExpression.NET. A former sufferer of social anxiety himself, David has become a social anxiety coach, offering social anxiety support in the form of one-on-one coaching and the online course Dissolve Social Anxiety. It is his mission to help people who suffer from social phobia to dissolve it once and for all and discover their lives again.
Thanks for viewing our David Hamilton’s guest blog post on How to Overcome Social Anxiety.