Many people battling shyness or social phobia often wonder whether any kind of social anxiety treatment really works. You might ask “will it cure my problem” or you may fantasize about living a life free from worry, fear, and depression.
There are a couple ways to approach this question, but let’s first start with the basics.
There’s no “cure” for social anxiety. There’s no magic pill you take and no longer fear social encounters. You don’t go to the doctor to get inoculated for being overly concerned about meeting new people.
With that said, there is treatment for social anxiety that can work to varying degrees.
The first thing you can do is visit your doctor or a medical professional to help figure out if you have social anxiety disorder symptoms. These symptoms can be anything from sweaty palms to constant situation avoidance.
Once your physician determines that you do indeed have social anxiety, you can then slowly start to get treated for it. Here are some of the options you can consider:
- Therapist/counselor: In seeing a therapist or a counselor, you’ll be able to finally talk to someone about your problems. And I know, it’s very ironic—if you could easily talk to someone about your personal life, you might not need the therapist in the first place, right?
Just know that the couch or chair you sit on in the therapist’s office is in a safe, confidential space. Your therapist isn’t there to judge you. He or she is there to help you not only stop judging yourself, but understand the root cause of your anxiety.
This can be done through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT. CBT centers around the idea that your thoughts controls your behavior and your actions, as opposed to other situations and factors in life that are beyond your control.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and those that use it, never implicitly tells the patient how to feel. But through many questions and its attempts to dig deeper at the problem the patient hopes to resolve, CBT strives to help provide people with answers by having one ask questions about their own behavior and their own actions.
Medication: Depending on how severe your anxiety is, your doctor or therapist may suggest you take medication to ease your fears. Sometimes this can be helpful because it prevents your brain from automatically jumping to a negative place whenever a social situation is brought up. This should only be done under the care and recommendation of a medical professional.
Self-Help: If you’re not interested or willing to go to therapy or take medication (you might not, for example, want to feel “forced” into putting pills in your body), there are several ways you can try to overcome your social anxiety through other means.
Books, podcasts, and documentaries are great ways to try and attack social anxiety. There are several different books written about overcoming social phobia on Amazon. You can also find inspiring podcasts about facing your fears and doing things outside of your comfort zone in iTunes.
Documentaries, too, are great, because you can see how your personal problem is affecting other people, and how they’ve gone about trying to fix it. For social anxiety, you can go to YouTube and search for the one-hour movie entitled Afraid of People, which is quite good.
Speaking of YouTube, there are lots of helpful and inspiring people who you can stumble upon and follow. Some of them may be trainers and life coaches, but others are simply everyday people like you and me who either have overcome their fear of social situations, or can offer some great advice or tips on how to do so.
At the end of the day, social anxiety can never really be “cured.” But it is something that you can certainly manage and reduce significantly if you’re willing to put in the work to do so.
And you’ll be a much happier person because of it.
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