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Talk Therapy Is The Best For Social Anxiety Disorder

Update Date: Sep 26, 2014 03:29 PM EDT

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more effective in treating social anxiety disorder and unlike medication, it can have long lasting effects long after treatment has stopped, according to a new study. 

Social anxiety disorder is a psychiatric condition in which the patients suffers from intense fear and avoidance of social situations. The disorder affects nearly 13 percent of Americans and Europeans. 

"Social anxiety is more than just shyness," says study leader Evan Mayo-Wilson, DPhil, a research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in the press release. "People with this disorder can experience severe impairment, from shunning friendships to turning down promotions at work that would require increased social interaction. 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."

The research was conducted by analyzing data from 101 clinical trials, which included more than 13,000 participants and comparing multiple types of medication and talk therapy. 

"Greater investment in psychological therapies would improve quality of life, increase workplace productivity, and reduce healthcare costs," Mayo-Wilson says. "The healthcare system does not treat mental health equitably, but meeting demand isn't simply a matter of getting insurers to pay for psychological services. We need to improve infrastructure to treat mental health problems as the evidence shows they should be treated. We need more programs to train clinicians, more experienced supervisors who can work with new practitioners, more offices, and more support staff."

The study is published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.

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