Medication for Social Anxiety

Medication is not usually offered as a mental health treatment on its own for social anxiety. In terms of NHS NICE guidelines talking therapy (such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is usually recommended in the first instance (ahead of medication) for treatment of social anxiety. Some people find talking therapies may be more appropriate, although it is possible (and not uncommon) that you may be offered medication and talking therapy – or even a different treatment altogether. Many people find medication alone does not work for them effectively as a standalone treatment of social anxiety.

The thought of taking medication can be very scary for some people. It is important to remember that everyone is different and therefore may have individual experiences when it comes to medication. It is not a decision you need to make on your own, you should always consult with your GP in the first instance. NICE guidelines recommend you proceed with medication only once you have discussed it with your health care provider first.

The aim of psychiatric medication is usually to treat mental health difficulties, reduce symptoms or prevent the return of symptoms. Lots of factors are considered before you are offered medication for your difficulties, and this includes what mental health problem you are diagnosed with, what your symptoms are and how severely your difficulties are impacting you. Medication may be prescribed for a short, specific period of time but sometimes it can be longer-term. Whoever prescribes your medication should review it with you regularly, to ensure it remains the most appropriate option for you.

You should always tell your healthcare professional about any side effects (however mild you consider them to be) or if you are thinking of stopping taking medication.

In terms of a specific type of medication, the NICE guidelines suggest if you wish to proceed with taking psychiatric medication as treatment for social anxiety, then you should be prescribed an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. SSRIs are a type of antidepressant medication. This does not mean you necessarily have depression, as they helpful in treating anxiety and other mental health problems too.

If you wish to find out more about medication options, you can arrange an appointment with your health care provider, such as your GP.

If you have difficulties talking to your GP because of social anxiety please see our page on talking to your GP.

There are also helpful websites with trusted information:
The NHS website has an easy-to-read guide There is also a helpful page at the charity MIND, see MIND-about-medication.

You can read the full NICE guidelines recommendations for medication with social anxiety here:

Please note, the content in this resource is provided for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. You must therefore obtain the relevant professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the information in this resource.