Medication and Therapy for SM
A question I’m often asked is what I think about medication for SM.
Some people are very dogmatic in their belief that medication should never be used in children, like messing with the batter before the cookies are even baked. If you are like that, then more power to you because the natural ways are of course ideal. I do believe medication can help when used correctly. It can definitely be a great tool to physiologically lower your levels of anxiety. However, we have to realize it’s only a tool, not the solution itself.
If your child is young enough that he or she hasn’t spent enough time to really identify with SM, then the medication can actually be a huge help. Since SM hasn’t been ingrained so much into them like someone who’s had it for years, essentially they become a very normal kid on the medication, and they can develop their social skills naturally alongside all the other kids. There should be a clear line of communication between parent and child that it’s not a magic pill, and eventually they’ll have to be weaned off of it.
Of course, I’ve also heard many stories where families say that medication had absolutely no effect on their child. Every child is different, and what works for one family may not work for another. You just have to take stock of what options are practical for your particular situation and what’s not.
A lot of older kids who’ve already passed the early stages of their life and have somewhat identified with the SM label take medication in hopes that it will “fix” them. They want to just take the medication, which will allow them to be normal and go on living their life. This is absolutely not the case. It’s the equivalent of seeing an ad on tv or online for a pill that will make you lose weight. All you have to do is take it once a day and watch the fat melt away. It is b.s. I’m not a big fan of things that try to hide the truth or provide a temporary band-aid on a much bigger problem.
On that note, I’ve seen a lot of adults and older teens who are stuck in that really hard place in their lives, which believe me I’ve been there too. And they go to therapy to try to fix their problems. Don’t get me wrong, I think therapy is very important. Some of my most profound realizations came from the help of my therapist at the time. And my girlfriend is currently starting grad school to become a therapist actually, and I support her all the way.
A lot of people with social anxiety go to therapy to try to get help. They go meet someone who talks to them, asks them questions, one on one, for maybe an hour a week (maybe more depending on the severity of the situation), inside a closed room… with no one else around. I’m not saying I’m a professional or anything, but it seems to me that there’s something very important missing, which is other people. The most effective and tried and true method of getting over anxiety is through positive associations and repeated exposure to many different situations. What that means is going and talking to people over and over again. I realize that for a lot of you who have SM, this can seem almost impossible, but I promise you it is possible. I’ll be sharing how I overcame my selective mutism and details of how my journey started in future articles.