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What Are the Most Popular Social Anxiety Medications?

Social anxiety disorder is a more common problem than people believe, and one that may have a greater impact on your life than you may realize. People think of social anxiety as simply a problem with shyness, but it is much more than that - it can be an extreme fear, and one that makes it nearly impossible to get the social support you need or enjoy a quality life.

That's why so many people seek treatment, and one of the more common treatments is medication. In this article, we'll explore the popular social anxiety medications and discuss whether or not they are worth using.

Fight Social Anxiety Without Medication

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How to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety medications are only one treatment option, and they're often avoided because of the side effect and dependency risks. Always follow the advice of your doctor, and consider completing my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more about potential anxiety treatments.

This disorder can be treated by social anxiety disorder mediations, but it should also be something you learn to work on yourself first. It is best not to skip straight to medication unless you are certain it is necessary.

Anxiety Medications

Social anxiety medications are not entirely dissimilar to the medications used for other anxiety disorders, with a few exceptions. The most common include:

  • Beta Blockers Beta blockers are the only medication that tends to be used more often with social anxiety than other anxiety disorders. These are drugs like Propranolol that prevent the body from experiencing any profound anxiety symptoms. How they work is not entirely known, but it is believed that they prevent the heart from getting excited, which keeps the body calm in anxiety situations.
  • Benzodiazepines These are the most common anti-anxiety drugs available. There are specifically known to reduce anxiety symptoms, and are used with nearly every anxiety disorder. They have a sedative effect, however, which is why they are not always popular with social anxiety disorder sufferers who would prefer to be as sharp as possible mentally.
  • SSRIs SSRIs are a type of antidepressant that also seems to be extremely valuable for those dealing with social anxiety. SSRIs have fewer side effects than benzodiazepines and cause less drowsiness, but they can cause dependency and do still have unwanted side effects. Examples include Prozac and Zoloft.
  • Bupirone Buspirone, or "Buspar" is a very mild anxiolytic with very few side effects and is generally well tolerated. There are some side effects, but they are fairly benign. The problem with Buspar is that most people find it very weak. Severe anxiety tends to respond poorly, and many people with social anxiety have fairly severe symptoms.

There are a few other social anxiety medications, but overall the above four are the most common. In the past, other drugs like MAOis were used, but they have since fallen out of favor.

Social Anxiety Responds Well to Non-Medication Treatments

Medications are a useful last resort, but social anxiety is an incredibly treatable condition, and one that often doesn't require any medicine at all. Unless your doctor or therapist prescribes this medicine to you, strongly consider trying other non-prescription methods of relieving social anxiety, as it is the type of condition that can be addressed with simple behavioral strategies and techniques.

Take my free 7 minute anxiety test now to find out more about some of these techniques, and to find out how you can start curing your anxiety today.

Start the test here.


Heimberg, Richard G. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder: current status and future directions . Biological psychiatry 51.1 (2002): 101-108.

Davidson, Jonathan RT. Pharmacotherapy of social anxiety disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (1998).

Turner, Samuel M., Deborah C. Beidel, and Rolf G. Jacob. Social phobia: a comparison of behavior therapy and atenolol. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 62.2 (1994): 350.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.

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