Patients can overcome social anxiety disorder with therapy - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Patients can overcome social anxiety disorder with therapy

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About 12 percent of the U.S. population find interacting socially can be terrifying. About 12 percent of the U.S. population find interacting socially can be terrifying.

Many of us love socializing, spending time with friends, and meeting new people.  It's also part of every day life for most people, but for millions of Americans the fear of being scrutinized or judged can lead to crippling anxiety, isolation, and depression.  About 12 percent of the U.S. population find interacting socially can be terrifying.

There are ways to cope with social anxiety disorder.

"The main concern is the fear of embarrassing themselves, maybe looking foolish, and a fear that other people will judge them negatively or reject them in some situations so it's really a fear of how they might be perceived by other people," says Dr. Kristy Dalrymple, a psychologist.

This goes beyond being shy.  Social anxiety is a very real mental health condition with physical as well as emotional symptoms.  It's something Dr. Dalrymple specializes in and researches.  She admits we all have some social fears.  That's normal.

"The point where you know that it's a problem is when it's affecting areas of their life, so it's where it gets to the point where it's affecting their job, or affecting their school or affecting their ability to have meaningful relationships," says Dalrymple.

For those with social anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy is often the first line of treatment.

"So with that you help people to practice situations where they feel nervous or anxious in and situations they've been avoiding to help them work through the anxiety and give them skills to cope with the anxiety that comes up," says Dalrymple.  

One of the barriers to treatment is a failure to accurately diagnose it, and patients are often embarrassed to admit they might have social anxiety to their doctor.  This is a real disorder with an effective treatment which, if it's coupled with depression, might also require medication.

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