Therapy Could Change the Brains of Social Anxiety Sufferers

Research shows that beneficial brain changes can happen after just 10 weeks.

If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, you’ve probably already heard that therapy can be beneficial. But recent research in Molecular Psychiatry shows that a specific type of therapy may help by altering your brain for the better.

Swiss researchers took brain MRI’s of 33 social anxiety sufferers before and after a 10-week Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) course, looking to see if therapy altered their brain structure. (Patients with social anxiety disorder have difficulty regulating anxiety in their frontal and lateral brain areas, and CBT is geared towards fixing that very issue by helping patients regulate their emotions.)

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After the 10-weeks were up, the researchers found evidence of structural changes in brain areas linked to self control and emotion regulation, study author Anette Brühl, head physician at the Center for Depression, Anxiety Disorders and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich, said in the study’s press release. Which is to say, if you’re one of the one in ten people who experience life-interrupting social anxiety — whether you’re terrified of public speaking, or so nervous about saying the right thing at a party that you stay home instead — CBT may be a helpful option.