Is CBT better than Medication?

Posted on 15th March 2015 | Category: Uncategorized

Is CBT better than medication when it comes to dealing with social anxiety? A recent study, discussed in this article from the John Hopkins School of Public Health states that CBT is much more effective at dealing with social anxiety.

Medication can be useful in the initial stages of reducing the arousal and associated effects of social anxiety. This can give a patient a release from the stress, trauma and paranoia that they may be suffering from and allow them time and space to relax and regain a perspective on their situation. Such relief can often allow the patient to make a vital decision that they need to change something in their life and take therapy.

However medication cannot make the decision to change for a patient. When used over a longer period of time it can even become a crutch, alleviating the symptoms of stress without investigation of any of the roots causes of the situation. Neither will it allow re-engagement with meaningful social activity. In this way it prevents a patient from learning how to initiate conversations and go through a process of graduated exposure through which they can learn new skills.

If a person lives alone and is suffering from isolation. Medication can even help perpetuate this situation, giving the person a warm bubble of seclusion where they are numbed from the effects of their behaviour. In such situations medication can even degrade a patient’s ability and skill to deal with the so-called outside world and may also for a dangerous dependency.

Bill O’Hanlon, the famous situation focussed therapist made the famous observation that when we do the same thing time and time again, for the same reasons, we should not be surprised when we get the same result. This is a saying that has found its way out of the therapy rooms and discussions of therapy practices into common culture. With medication there can often be no incentive for the patient to try different strategies and tactics in the real world that can teach them how to deal with their social anxiety through the tough yet rewarding process of trial and error.

Part of the reason for the trend in using prescription medicine to combat social anxiety alongside depression and other psychological ailments is down to the way doctors use the medical model. Most GPs will try to provide an immediate solution to their patients’ problems and this can often be in the form of a course of pills. A doctor may tell someone to get to the gym, but they can’t advise on how to make time for such an activity or how to pay for it.

If you are using medication to treat your social anxiety and would like to look at the alternatives such as mindfulness and CBT, then the best place to start would be with a free consultation session. This will give us the time to talk over your current problems and discuss the options available to you for moving forward.