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Medication for Social Anxiety Disorder 

By Eileen Bailey

Social anxiety disorder cannot be cured. Medications are available and have been found to be helpful for some people. Medications sometimes will allow a person to receive more benefit from behavioral therapy. Some of the considerations to consider before beginning medication are:

•    The severity of symptoms

•    Other medications you may take

•    Your current physical health

A medical doctor or a psychiatrist must prescribe medications. Many times the prescribing doctor will work as a member of a team, which can include psychologists, therapists, counselors or social workers. There are a few different types of medication currently prescribed for social anxiety:

Antidepressants have been found to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. These medications do require at least four to six weeks of treatment in order to determine their effectiveness. Patients must be willing to try medications for this period of time in order to allow them to work.


Types of Antidepressants


SSRIs are a type of antidepressant medication. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors change the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps brain cells communicate with one another. These medications are started at a low dose and increased slowly to determine the correct dosage.

Common SSRIs prescribed for social anxiety disorder include:

•    Fluoxetine (Prozac)

•    Sertraline (Zoloft)

•    Escitalopram Oxalate (Lexapro)

•    Paroxetine (Paxil)

•    Citalopram Hydrobromide (Celexa)

Side effects from these medications can include nausea or jumpiness; however, these side effects normally disappear within a few weeks. SSRIs have fewer side effects than older, more traditional antidepressants. Sexual dysfunction is also sometimes a side effect of SSRIs. Adjusting dosage can normally help this.



Tricyclics have been found to be effective in treating many different types of anxiety (except OCD). They are started at a low dose and increased slowly to determine the most effective dose.

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