Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Social Anxiety Disorder
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Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Social Anxiety Disorder

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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with social anxiety disorder. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, 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 healthcare provider:

  • 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 Healthcare Provider

About Social Anxiety Disorder

Talk to your healthcare provider about your fears and worries. Tell him or her 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 healthcare provider 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?

References:

National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/ .

Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/ .

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.



Last reviewed February 2007 by David Juan, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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