One of the challenges faced by individuals seeking treatment for mental health problems is that often times disorders like depression, social anxiety, and panic disorder don’t travel alone – it is not uncommon for a person to experience not just depression or social anxiety but a combination of the two. In fact, people with social anxiety disorder have a 50% chance of having another anxiety problem or depression. This is what we call comorbidity, or an overlap.
The good news is that psychological treatment for social anxiety – namely Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – has the benefit of addressing not only the primary diagnoses, but the comorbid conditions as well. The tools and fundamentals of CBT, including Thought Inspection, identifying Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS), Fear-Facing and others, teach sufferers to identify and change the problem thoughts and behavior patterns that perpetuate the anxiety. These techniques, which focus on behavior, have the potential to address underlying behavior and root causes of other, physical and mental health problems as well.
Some of the most common comorbidities experienced by social anxiety sufferers include depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, conduct disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and the use of alcohol and illicit drugs to relieve symptoms.
This is something to keep in mind if you’re feeling overwhelmed by overlapping issues. The tools and fundamentals of CBT can be used to address a broad array of disorders by targeting those thoughts and behaviors at the root of them all.
Read the transcript of this video below:
Social anxiety involves making predictions for the future, predictions about the future, dreading things and then developing patterns of avoidance. And really that’s true for other anxiety problems as well – I dread something, I fear something about the future and then I develop behavioral patterns that keep me stuck.
Usually they’re about avoidance or escape, and so for that reason there is a great deal of comorbidity – that means overlap. If I have social anxiety disorder, I have a 50% chance of having another anxiety problem or depression. And depression is especially likely because when I have social anxiety disorder I’m tempted to avoid meeting new people and going out. And I avoid doing some other things that might give me meaningful significant relationships with other people and important experiences that I could have and enjoy. I start missing out on those experiences because of that avoidance. Then I’m at greater risk above becoming really depressed when I have some kind of setback happen in my life.
So, I’m not out there in the kind of environments that would give me positives, or that would help me bounce back from the setbacks and negative things that might happen to me. So I’m at greater risk of getting really quite depressed.