Around 13 per cent of people suffer from 'social anxiety disorder' - they don't like meeting people and they feel uncomfortable in new situations. It's a condition that is invariably treated with antidepressants, but there's a better solution out there, a new study has discovered.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - known as the 'talking therapy' - is more effective than drugs, and carries on working for a long time afterwards. The drugs work only for as long as you're taking them.
SSRI antidepressants should be demoted to a second-line treatment and more people with the disorder should instead be given access to CBT, say researchers from University College London.
The researchers assessed the various therapies open to people with the disorder in an analysis of 101 studies that involved 13,164 people. Around 9.000 of them were given a drug, and 4,000 had a 'psychological intervention', including CBT.
The SSRIs worked for some of the people, but they often came with serious adverse reactions. CBT was the most effective therapy assessed, they said.
CBT looks at relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and helps people challenge their irrational fears.
(Source: Lancet Psychiatry, 2014; doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70329-3)