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Social Phobia Treatment

Social Phobia Treatment
By Laura M. Turner, M.Sc., CFT, CNHP

Social Phobia Treatment

Social phobia treatment, like social phobia itself, can take several forms. It may be related to specific social situations, such as a fear of public speaking (glossophobia), a fear of public restrooms or a fear of eating in public. Or it may be more general, involving anxiety related to most social situations. In the latter case it is often called generalized social anxiety disorder.

Specific Social Phobias

Specific social phobias fall into two main types. One is a fear of acting in certain ways in a public situation. This type includes fear of public speaking, which is the most common social phobia, as well as stage fright, using public restrooms, and eating or writing in public. The other type of social phobia is a fear of certain social interactions, such as parties, interviews, speaking to somebody you do not know or dealing with authority figures.

Before considering treatment, it is important to understand what a phobia is. A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of a thing or situation which is not normally dangerous. So if a person is a little nervous around poisonous spiders, that is not a phobia. That is normal cautious behavior in a dangerous situation. But a person who is terrified to be near a small, harmless spider probably has a phobia.

In the same way, it is normal to be a little nervous before giving an important speech to a large and unfamiliar audience, especially if you are not used to doing that. But if you know that you would be sick with fear at the thought of giving a best man speech, or you would turn down an interesting, well-paid job because it involved giving occasional presentations to small groups of people, then you may have glossophobia.

Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder

Generalized social anxiety disorder is an unreasonable, persistent fear of being judged or humiliated in social situations. It can apply to any situation. It is usually strongest in situations where we have to interact with strangers, authority figures, people who have expectations of us or people whom we consider superior to ourselves in some way. Most of us have at least some friends or family members whom we can meet without anxiety. However, for some people the anxiety is so broad that it leads to complete social withdrawal.

People with social phobias often start to use self-destructive behavior patterns to try to reduce their anxiety. This can involve using alcohol or recreational drugs, over-eating or avoiding eating, or self-harming. These only add to the problem, often leading to alcoholism, eating disorders, etc. If you recognize that you need to use or do some specific thing in order to face social situations, you probably need social phobia treatment.

Social Phobia Treatment

Treatment for generalized social anxiety may include psychotherapy and/or antidepressant or sedative medications. In addition, behavioral therapies may be used to treat both specific social phobias and generalized social anxiety disorder.

Most social phobia treatment will involve learning techniques to handle the anxiety that you feel in feared situations. These may include breathing exercises and techniques to improve mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of keeping your mind in the present moment instead of worrying about things that have not happened yet, and it can be very helpful in dealing with anxiety, depression and other types of negative thought patterns.

Once you have begun to handle fear and anxiety a little better, you will begin to take steps toward overcoming the specific or general fears that are restricting your activities. Don't worry, these will be very small steps at first. In some cases, it may just be a question of making sure that your boundaries do not become more restrictive than they already are.

So for example if you have a fear of public speaking but you are comfortable speaking at meetings of a small number of familiar work colleagues, then you would use social phobia treatment techniques to ensure that the number of people increased a little when you were feeling good, and never got smaller, even in times of stress.

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Laura M. Turner, M.Sc., CNHP is an author, journalist and wellness mentor specializing in natural anti-aging practices and nutritional medicine. Visit her online at and subscribe to the BodyTalk eZine - While you're there grab her new eBook Retro-Aging and enroll in her "Take Charge Of Your Health" eCourse FREE, as well as improve your health with Nature's Healing Treasures:




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About The Editor: Laura M. Turner:

Laura M. Turner, M.Sc., CFT, CNHP, was born in upstate, New York. She began her professional writing career as a freelance journalist publishing her work in many national and local magazines including: American Fitness, Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness and Adirondack Life.

Laura is a Certified Fitness Professional and holds a degree with distinction in English Literature with minors in biology and chemistry from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. She was awarded certification by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) after completing her graduate studies in research with a concentration in integrative medicine and natural health care...
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