Health

Talk therapy 'best for social phobia', study finds

Stressed man Image copyright SPL

Talking therapy is more effective than pills in treating social anxiety disorder, a study has found.

Social phobia - one of the most common anxiety disorders - is a persistent fear of social situations.

A review of 101 clinical trials found talking therapies were more effective and more long lasting than medication.

Medication should be used only when psychological treatments are turned down, said the UK/US team behind the study in The Lancet Psychiatry.

"Social anxiety is more than just shyness," said Dr Evan Mayo-Wilson, of the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a co-researcher on the study.

"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 study, involving more than 13,000 participants, compared different types of psychological therapy with medications such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

It found cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) on a one-to-one basis was the most effective.

CBT is a talking therapy that can help people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave.

The research was carried out in collaboration with Oxford University and University College London.

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