In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the experience of the Social Anxiety sufferer.  In part two, we examine how to treat this condition with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and how Social Anxiety relates to other Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders.

Treatment of Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety can be successfully treated with
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

The most effective form of treatment for Social Anxiety is the same as in other Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  This is because, like the other disorders in the spectrum, Social Anxiety involves an obsession and a series of compulsions which form a cycle.

The fundamental obsession in Social Anxiety is the fear of being evaluated negatively.  This generally includes fears of being rejected, as well as the fear of being singled out for humiliation and traumatized by emotional abuse from others.  The primary compulsion in Social Anxiety is the phobic avoidance of social situations in which one fears rejection and/or humiliation (thus its synonym, Social Phobia).

It is tempting to look at avoidance as the absence of engaging in social behavior.  However, avoidance is an overt physical and mental behavior, the primary goal of which is to reduce or eliminate anxiety.  For the individual with Social Anxiety, the act of choosing not to go to the party thus serves the same function as the act of choosing to wash one’s hands serves for the individual with OCD.  Further, those with Social Anxiety who are able to commit to a social interaction may find themselves escaping mentally in the process by spending their energy focusing on things other than the present situation. Read More »

    

“If I knew then what I know now.”

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve found yourself saying the same thing at some point in your adult life.  Nowhere is this more relevant than from the perspective of someone looking back on a childhood with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or an Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorder.  When I meet a new client under 18, there is a powerful sense of traveling through time.  I think, “If only I had someone like me to go back and talk to me when I was someone like this.” How much time might I have saved being able to resist repetitive, unnecessary rituals?  How many more events, relationships, and simple moments of peace might I have been able to enjoy if only I had known what was really happening to me? Read More »

    

My wife and I recently became vegetarians.  Well, she started using the word “vegetarian” to describe already never eating meat.  For me it required more of a lifestyle change.  I grew up on a small beef cattle farm, so I was used to the idea that you could grow meat the same way you grow vegetables.  Throughout my life it always felt as if meat was how one defined the difference between a “snack” and a “meal”.  So as part health experiment and part social consciousness attempt, I have given up meat for the time being.

At first I felt like I was denying myself something purely enjoyable.  I’m used to it, I like it, so why don’t I just do it?  Saying, “I want to change” or “I’m not happy with the consequences” doesn’t seem to be much comfort.  However, nearly 4 months into this experiment, I now get what can only be described as a “resistor’s high” – an addictive satisfaction derived from choosing not to eat meat. Read More »

    

There have long been rumblings that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was undertaking a thorough review of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).  The ostensible goal of such a review would be to create a more accurate and in-depth edition of the DSM, which was last updated in 1994.

After ten years of ongoing debate, the numerous APA work groups investigating potential revisions to various diagnoses and categories to be included in a planned fifth edition have presented their suggestions to the APA.  Some of these changes are likely to be as controversial as current classifications in the DSM-IV, while others will pass barely noticed into the new DSM-5 (for example, the switch away from Roman numerals in the title).  A number of these proposed changes directly impact conditions treated here at the OCD Center of Los Angeles.  To wit: Read More »

    

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety were in the news throughout 2009.  Some news was good, some bad, and some flat-out ugly.  Here are our votes for the top stories of the year related to OCD, Social Anxiety, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Trichotillomania, Phobias, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Read More »

    

Recent months have seen an enormous amount of discussion on the issue of developing a national health care plan.  This issue has become a lightning rod for activists on the left and right, and promises to provide ongoing debate for months to come.  One part of this story that has not received much discussion in the media is how a national health plan might address mental health care. Read More »

    

For individuals who suffer with Trichotillomania, the urge to pull their own hair can be overwhelming.  While this might seem to many like a bizarre, self-destructive behavior, to those with Trichotillomania, this powerful urge can leave them with large bald spots on their scalp, no eyebrows, or no eyelashes.

Fortunately, researchers are starting to learn more about the origin of the disorder and possible treatments.  One recent study conducted at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in Minneapolis has uncovered a promising potential avenue for future treatment of this condition. Read More »

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