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Talking to Your Doctor About Social Anxiety Disorder

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with social anxiety disorder. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Social Anxiety Disorder

Talk to your doctor about your fears and worries. Tell him if these worries are keeping you from doing everyday things and living your life.

In addition, you may want to ask questions such as:

  • Have you helped other people with social anxiety disorder?
  • Can you refer me to a doctor or counselor who does?
  • What medical conditions are associated with increased risk of this disorder?
  • Is there a genetic influence?
About Treatment Options
  • What treatments are available for me?
  • If I have the performance type of social anxiety disorder, what types of medications might be best?
  • If I have the generalized type of social anxiety disorder, what types of medications might be best?
  • How long will it take for me to feel better once I start taking medication?
  • What benefits should I expect from the medication?
  • What side effects should I watch for?
  • Should I also see a counselor who treats people with social anxiety disorder?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that I should consider?
About Counseling

If you decide to try counseling, interview counselors to find one with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems. Some questions to ask are:

  • What is your training and experience in treating anxiety disorders?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long does treatment go on?
  • What is the length and frequency of treatment sessions?
  • What health insurance is accepted?
  • Do you have fee schedules and sliding scale fees to accompany various financial circumstances?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • What lifestyle changes can help me reduce my symptoms of stress and anxiety? Including:
    • Diet
    • Relaxation and stress management techniques
    • Exercise
    • Limiting alcohol or drug intake
  • How do I go about making these lifestyle changes?
About Outlook
  • What are my chances of recovery from social anxiety disorder both with and without treatment?
  • How often do social anxiety disorder and other related conditions recur?
  • Am I at risk of having or developing other psychological problems?

Revision Information

  • Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Mosby; 2004.

  • Schneier FR. Clinical practice. Social anxiety disorder. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:1029-1036.

  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Anxiety Disorders of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/GettingHelp/AnxietyDisorders/SocialPhobia.asp. Updated October 2008. Accessed October 30, 2008.

  • Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/social-phobia-social-anxiety-disorder.shtml. Updated October 2008. Accessed October 30, 2008.