Social Phobia Both Common and Treatable

Boy by window

Do you hate the idea of meeting new people? Maybe you’re scared to go grocery shopping because you feel like everyone is watching you and judging. Perhaps you skip a party because the idea of introducing yourself to strangers makes you feel nauseous.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Social phobia or social anxiety is the third most common psychological problem in the United States today. A recent research study, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, examined 80 social phobia subjects for 10 weeks to shed new light on the effects of different kinds of treatment in predicting and moderating social phobia symptoms.

The most common form of social phobia is known as glossophobia, the fear of public speaking and the fear of performance. Social phobia can have various other symptoms or causes, not just a fear of being watched by others. For example, social phobia can be a fear of writing in front of people or eating in front of people. The phobia can manifest into physical symptoms too, such as trembling hands or muscle spasms and ticks.

The study examined the effects of treatment programs built upon a patient’s particular strengths. The study did find that the age of onset and the patient’s expectations were the most powerful predictors of a successful post-treatment outcome. The earlier someone started experiencing social phobias, the less effective the treatment.

Treatment typically consists of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes changing our thoughts, as our thoughts effect how we feel and what we do. Residential cognitive treatment and residential interpersonal treatment involves hands-on group exercises with a dedicated staff in a live-in facility. Residential treatment centers often include group and individual counseling, focused and goal-oriented therapy, and mental illness management and recovery. The services offered depend on the patient and the facility.

While the study results require more investigation, it reveals an important fact that can help you find treatment. Your expectations in getting better and a positive outlook can be the most important factor in improving your quality of life.  Consult a medical professional near you to discuss a treatment program that fits your needs.

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