Social anxiety disorder could be the most commonly diagnosed panic attacks and the third most frequent mental health condition on earth. The main feature of social panic is a persistent anxiety about a social or performance situations by which negative evaluation might occur. Along these lines, one of the most significant good reasons for this high prevalence rate for social panic attacks is demonstrated in just a simple truth about social situations generally: technically, any social situation gets the potential to trigger an adverse evaluation from others. For instance, though unlikely, ‘technically’ being in a drive through at an easy food restaurant you could end up one getting a negative evaluation from others.
We also know from decades of research that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be the gold standard treatment for social anxiety specifically and anxiety disorders generally speaking, with experience of anxiety provoking situations becoming an essential ingredient to successful treatment. However, research indicates a large percentage of an individual experience a return of the social anxiety upon successful treatment. Nevertheless, the million dollar question in this regard can be as follows: how does anxiety and concern with social situations return following successful treatment and, moreover, just how can we prevent this from happening following treatment? Indeed, what’s the endgame for the treatment outcome?
The period of time that passes following successful treatment of social anxiety is applicable here. Quite simply, clinical quantities of social anxiety might return following treatment if the person fails to consistently take part in social interactions. One good way to eliminate this return of fear as a result of passing of time, what we make reference to as spontaneous recovery, would be to not only participate in frequent exposures to social-anxiety provoking situations but in addition by confronting multiple fear cue simultaneously. For example, if a person is hypersensitive to heart palpitations within a social interactions as well as hypersensitive to ordering food at a restaurant, you might address these two fears separately after which intentionally increase heart palpitations (as an example, by running set up in the restroom before ordering) then immediately order food at a restaurant. Basically, this method would “violate my expectation” that “basically order food whilst having an easy beating heart, i’ll produce a fool of myself surely.” This would boost the odds of successful management of social anxiety in the endgame.
Switch it up
Another problem that often arises following successful treatment of social anxiety is when therapy occurs in a small number of situations. Put simply, anxiety about social situations could reemerge if anxiety provoking situations are merely confronted in the same context, with certain people, of day once, or other consistent variables. We reference this effect as context renewal. A somewhat simple method to prevent this renewal of social fear is “switching up” the contexts where exposures occur. As an example, someone will have to order food at both Qdoba and Chipotle, to interact in small consult with individuals from various cultural backgrounds, alter messages during social interactions, of day by which social anxiety exposures occur and change enough time. Additional considerations could be doing exposures within unfamiliar situations and in the clear presence of others alone.
Mix and Match
Another ingredient of managing social anxiety longterm is what we make reference to as variability of exposures or “mixing up” numerous variables throughout exposure treatment. Research indicates that varying their education to which anxiety practical knowledge throughout exposure tasks enhances the storage capacity of information that’s learned (Bjork & Bjork, 2006). Traditionally, exposures proceed in a hierarchal fashion, from least distressing to the majority of distressing. However, research indicates that varying fear levels throughout exposure treatment is really a positive predictor of treatment outcome for speaking in public anxiety (Kiranski et al., 2012). Moreover, varying how long between treatment sessions, randomizing exposures than proceeding to be able rather, and changing the duration of treatment sessions are approaches to enhance exposure treatment in the endgame.
There was a current article identifying the silken trap of safety behaviors and the detriment that safety behaviors may have on longterm management of social anxiety. Simply speaking, removal of safety behaviors can be an important strategy at maximizing treatment outcome for social anxiety. Ironically, one more strategy which can be helpful toward the conclusion of social anxiety treatment is “fetching” from your own memory everything you learned throughout treatment using a retrieval cue. A retrieval cue is just a tangible object that serves as a reminder of that which you learned during exposure therapy for social anxiety and might include numerous objects, provided that the objects serve as reminders of what new learning occurred within the context of therapy. The caution, however, is that retrieval cues may become safety behaviors themselves. Therefore, retrieval cues are used upon completion of treatment and may be utilized sparingly best.
In sum, CBT could be the most effective therapy approach for the management of social anxiety symptoms. Though social anxiety is really a normal element of life, social anxiety may be debilitating when it makes significant impairment and distress in functioning. Once social anxiety is managed, relapse prevention is very important so that you can maintain treatment gains longterm. Important considerations in managing social anxiety include continuing to confront situations which can be anxiety provoking following treatment, confronting several types of social situations, increasing the intensity of arousal when confronting social situations, and using cues as reminders of the thing that was learned during treatment periodically. For further strategies on enhancing exposure therapy for anxiety disorders, reference Craske et al., (2014).