A team of UK/US researchers have uncovered evidence to show talking therapies are the most effective and long-lasting treatment approach for people with social phobia.
Following a review of 101 clinical trials, the study – published in The Lancet Psychiatry – states that medication does not provide the same benefits and therefore should only be used if psychological treatment is turned down.
“Social anxiety is more than just shyness,” said Dr Evan Mayo-Wilson, a co-researcher on the study.
“The good news from our study is that social anxiety is treatable. Now that we know what works best, we need to improve access to psychotherapy for those who are suffering.”
Social phobia refers to a persistent fear of social situations and is thought to affect up to 10% of the UK population.
People suffering from social phobia live in constant fear of being around others – particularly strangers in public places – as they are afraid they will act in an embarrassing manner and humiliate themselves.
As it is a psychological condition, counselling approaches such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) are strongly recommended to help sufferers explore and ultimately change their thoughts and behaviours to reduce debilitating symptoms.
In fact the study – which involved more than 13,000 participants – identified this one-to-one counselling approach as the most effective.
Medication has always been provided in addition to talking therapies, and in light of the study will surely continue to be a secondary option for patients.