You may start by seeing your family doctor. After your initial appointment, your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider who can help make a firm diagnosis and create the right treatment plan for you.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long. Social anxiety disorder often first appears in your teens. Your doctor will be interested to hear how your symptoms may have waxed or waned since they began.
- Write down your key personal information, especially any significant events or changes in your life shortly before your symptoms appeared. For example, your doctor will want to know if your social anxiety seemed to be triggered by a promotion, meeting new people, or another new work or social demand.
- Write down all of your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also write down the names of any medications you're taking.
- Ask a trusted family member or friend to be present for your appointment, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor at your initial appointment may include:
- What do you believe is causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- How will you determine my diagnosis?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
Questions to ask if you are referred to a mental health provider include:
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- Are effective treatments available for this condition?
- With treatment, could I eventually be comfortable in the situations that make me so anxious now?
- Am I at increased risk of other mental health problems?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared in advance, don't hesitate to ask questions at any time during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor or mental health provider who sees you for possible social anxiety disorder may ask:
Aug. 23, 2011
- Does fear of embarrassment cause you to avoid doing things or speaking to people?
- Do you avoid activities in which you are the center of attention?
- Would you say that being embarrassed or looking stupid is among your worst fears?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- When are your symptoms most likely to occur?
- Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
- How are your symptoms affecting your life, including your work and personal relationships?
- Do you ever have symptoms when you're not being observed by others?
- Have any of your close relatives had similar symptoms?
- Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions?
- Have you been treated for other psychiatric symptoms or mental illness in the past? If yes, what type of therapy was most beneficial?
- Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
- Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? If so, how often?
- Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed June 11, 2011.
- Schneier FR. Social anxiety disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Hollander E, et al. Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed June 11, 2011.
- Phobic disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec15/ch196/ch196e.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Hofmann SG. Psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Bruce TJ, et al. Pharmacotherapy for social anxiety disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Lee RA. Anxiety disorders. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/154207005-3/0/1494/57.html?tocnode=54111716&fromURL=57.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2954-0..50014-4_229. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Lakhan SE, et al. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: Systematic review. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:42. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/42. Accessed June 17, 2011.