Medical Q&As

Social anxiety - drug treatment?

I have suffered from social anxiety for as long as I can remember. I would now like to have some medication for it to ease my symptoms. What are the best drugs available to lessen the anxiety?

Drugs are not the only treatment for social anxiety. Behavioural therapy is also very effective in the treatment of the condition however since you have asked me to write about drug treatment I will confine myself to that area alone. There are several drug choices available for the treatment of social anxiety. Beta-blockers are widely used in the treatment of high blood pressure but in lower doses they can be very effective in slowing the heart rate, which can be a very prominent symptom of anxiety. They also relieve the physical shaking associated with anxiety. Benzodiazepine drugs such as diazepam have been widely used in the past for anxiety but they are probably best avoided in the treatment of social anxiety because of their well-documented potential for addiction. Various classes of antidepressant drugs are very effective in treating this condition. MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), a particular class of antidepressant, are very effective in the treatment of panic disorder and anxiety however they interact with a wide range of common foodstuffs and other drugs which renders them unpopular today. Some doctors would argue that the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are emerging as the drugs of choice for treating social anxiety. You ask which drugs are best to which I reply that the best drug for you is the one that works. Some people benefit greatly beta-blockers whereas others have been greatly helped by SSRIs. All of the classes of drugs I have mentioned are prescription only products so you would need to discuss this matter further with your GP.