Medications For Social Anxiety Disorder: Here's What Can Help

Social anxiety disorder, sometimes also called social phobia, is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and self-consciousness in normal social situations. People with social anxiety disorder worry so much about being watched and judged by others that they may worry for weeks about an upcoming social situation. Their fear is so severe that it can begin to interfere with work, school, and everyday activities. Although many people with a social anxiety disorder know their fears are excessive, they can't help but worry before, during, and even after social situations.

There are several medication choices for people with a social anxiety disorder. While they will not cure the disorder, medications can help manage anxiety levels. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers are the most common medications prescribed for anxiety disorders.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants take about 4 to 6 weeks to reach full effectiveness and reduce anxiety symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac®), sertraline (Zoloft®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), paroxetine (Paxil®), and citalopram (Celexa®) are often used to treat social anxiety disorder. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), the oldest class of antidepressant medications, are also sometimes used to treat social anxiety disorder. Those most commonly prescribed are phenelzine (Nardil®), tranylcypromine (Parnate®), and isocarboxazid (Marplan®). People who take MAOIs can't eat certain foods and beverages or take certain medications, as a number of substances can interact with MAOIs and cause dangerous increases in blood pressure.

Anti-Anxiety Drugs

The benzodiazepine clonazepam (Klonopin®) is often used for social anxiety disorder. Benzodiazepines work quickly and are very effective, but are usually prescribed only for short periods of time or certain situations, as users can develop a tolerance.

Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers, which are used to treat heart conditions, are used to prevent physical symptoms of anxiety. They can be very effective for treating social anxiety disorder infrequently in particular situations, such as giving a speech.

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