Medications for Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression
The medications which treat both social anxiety disorder and depression are used primarily as treatments for depression3. Many of them were created specifically for this purpose and were later found to relieve the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Although, the first group of drugs discussed is used as a first line of defense against social anxiety disorder today.
A group of common prescription medications for social anxiety disorder and depression are known as Serotonin Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), and a common medication in this class of drugs is Effexor. SNRIs specifically affect the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. They work by increasing the amount of these neurotransmitters available in the synapse or gap between neurons. SNRIs do this by stopping or inhibiting the process of re-uptake. Re-uptake is when a neurotransmitter re-attaches to the neuron from which it originated. This is actually useful because it can then be recycled, but this process also makes less neurotransmitters available to attach to nearby neurons, decreasing neuron activity. Inhibiting this process increases the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine available in the synapse. These extra neurotransmitters bind with other neurons which increases the rate of neuronal firing. Through this increased activity, the symptoms of both disorders are reduced or relieved and mood is elevated.
Another group of medications for social anxiety disorder and depression is Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These were first created as a treatment for depression because the previous group of antidepressants had a multitude of side effects. SSRIs had relatively few side effects in comparison to their older counterparts. They work in a similar way to SNRIs in that they inhibit re-uptake and allow more neurotransmitters to remain available in the synapse. However, this class of drugs only affects levels of serotonin and not norepinephrine. These drugs are prescribed often and include Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, Prozac, Sarafem, and Fluoxetine.
These are two majors classes of prescription medications which treat social anxiety disorder and depression, but there are a handful of others. As usual with mental illness, a combination of therapy and medication is the optimal treatment and has been shown to have the best outcomes for relieving symptoms and overcoming the mental illness permanently.