Many people with social anxiety disorder feel that there is “something wrong,” but don’t recognize their feeling as a sign of illness. Physiological effects, similar to those in other anxiety disorders, are present in social phobics. Social anxiety disorder can be so debilitating that it interferes with work, school and other routine activities. Social anxiety disorder may be linked to other mental illnesses, such as panic disorder , obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can fluctuate over time. Physical symptoms include “mind going blank”, fast heartbeat, blushing, stomach ache. Cognitive distortions are a hallmark, and learned about in CBT.
Thoughts are often self-defeating and inaccurate. Some sufferers may use alcohol or other drugs to reduce fears and inhibitions at social events. Social anxiety disorder may co-occur with other anxiety disorders as well as depression. Additionally, people with social anxiety may develop problems with substance abuse or dependence when they use drinking or drugs to “self-medicate” their symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants, are considered by many to be the first choice medication for generalised social phobia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful in the treatment of social anxiety disorder. MAOIs and benzodiazepines may require more monitoring than other medications. Beta blockers are sometimes used with performance anxiety, a specific kind of social anxiety.
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