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Social Anxiety Disorder And Its Treatments

May 9, 2008
Most people have heard of anxiety before, but only a few aware that there are in fact different forms of anxiety that you can suffer from. Social anxiety disorder is one of the most frequently diagnosed anxiety disorder conditions. This is a chronic mental health condition that can cause an irrational fear towards activities or situations in which the sufferer believes that people around them are watching them and judging them.

There are specific signs and symptoms that you will recognize if you suffer from a social anxiety disorder. They will differentiate this from other anxiety disorders. Usually you may have an extreme dread of being in situations where you do not know people, fear of situations in which you may be judged, worry that others will notice you looking anxious, and you stay away from doing thinks out of fear that you may say the wrong thing or otherwise humiliate yourself.

Causes of social anxiety disorder

There is no particular known cause of social anxiety disorder, but somewhat a variety of triggers and factors are involved. Biochemistry is considered as being a main factor here, as researchers are now investigating the idea that natural chemicals in the body may play a major role in creating the disorder. For example, an imbalance in the level of serotonin chemical in the brain could become a factor. This situation explains why most of the medications that are prescribed to treat the disorder work by balancing the level of serotonin in the patient's brain.

Genes are also a possibility here, as social anxiety disorder shows a tendency to run in families. And although it is obvious that the genes most probably play a major role here, researchers have yet to agree on whether this hereditary component is associated to genetics or whether it is behavior learned by other family members.

Treatment for social anxiety disorder

Treatment is certainly one of the most main aspects when it comes to a health condition such as a social anxiety disorder, especially for the sufferer who most likely feels powerless and as though their life is revolving out of control.

Psychotherapy is the most frequently prescribed treatment method, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This is in fact the only form of therapy that has shown to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder It is based on the idea that your own thoughts is what really determines how you behave or react and therefore the goal of the therapy is to change the negative thoughts and replace with positive ones. Another alternative is exposure therapy, which involves progressively working up to facing the situations that you dread most and which as a result will help you to recover from your problem with anxiety.

Medications for social anxiety disorder and its side effects

The mildest type of social anxiety disorder medication is called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors boost the levels of serotonin in the brain, making the user feel more contented and calmer. Some famous brands that use SSRIs are Prozac and Zoloft. However, SSRIs have side effects as well, such as headaches, dry mouth, nausea, irritability, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, drowsiness, weight gain, shaking hands, and diarrhea. These are all bothersome side effects, but none of them is life threatening.

Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers or psychoactive drugs that slow down the body's nervous system, giving it an all-over calm. These medications are typically only used as a quick acting, short term solutions to symptoms. One major side effect of these drugs is that they can be addictive. Therefore, they should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor. Other side effects from the medications can include tiredness, fatigue, slurred speech, weakness, memory loss, blurred vision, and dizziness.

Antidepressants are social anxiety disorder medications that influence the neurotransmitters in the brain. The side effects can be various depending on what kind of antidepressants is used. One major side effect of all antidepressants is they can generate suicidal thoughts, especially when the sufferers start to take them or when the dosage is changed. The Food and Drug Administrator (FDA) has put out a warning on all antidepressants.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are others antidepressant social anxiety disorder medications, which is very powerful and can have very dangerous side effects. These drugs can be deadly when combined with certain other drugs and foods. These should be reserved as a last resort unless all other forms of treatment have failed.

Beta-blockers, which are commonly used to control high blood pressure, are occasionally used as social anxiety disorder medications. These can be taken in low doses prior to a time when the patient believes they will experience an attack. The regular side effects are weariness, nightmares, diarrhea, nausea, cold extremities, abnormal vision, heart failure, insomnia, decreased concentration, dizziness, hallucinations, depression, sexual dysfunction, and dyspnea.
About the Author
Cindy Heller is a professional writer. Visit anxiety disorder support to learn more about obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms and treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder .
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