Social Anxiety: Treatment

Social anxiety disorder responds well to therapy. The goal of treatment is behavior modification, and children beginning a concurrent program of behavioral therapy and medication usually don’t take medicine for long.

Behavioral: A clinician will likely start cognitive behavioral therapy to work on improving the child’s social and coping skills during anxiety-provoking situations. CBT teaches kids that they are in control of their anxiety and unwanted behaviors. Through therapy they will learn to take overcome their fear and change anxious thought patterns. Exposure therapy, which requires gradual, carefully controlled exposure to a feared situation, is also very successful in reducing anxiety.

Pharmacological: Medications can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, which may make behavioral therapy more effective for some children. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have proven effective at managing some symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Medications called beta blockers may also be prescribed to curb the fear response and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, such as palpitations and sweating.