Treating Social Anxiety Disorder Naturally
Edited by Donna, Eng, Maria Quinney
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder, also sometimes simply referred to as social phobia, describes an individual who suffers from extreme physical, mental and emotional distress when confronted with the prospect of socializing with other people. The condition is often experienced every day in social situations that others would consider to be normal and greatly amplified if the person has to go to an interview or meeting or speak in front of a group of people. You know you have a problem when the disorder is stressing you out to the extent that you become paralyzed with terror, suffer from symptoms like sweating, rapid heart beat and an inability to breathe and begin missing school or work because you cannot face being in a room with others.
The condition of social anxiety disorder is usually diagnosed after an allopathic doctor conducts a mental health assessment.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:
- Excessive isolation to avoid interaction with others
- Self-medicating with alcohol, cannabis or prescription drugs so that you can tolerate being with others
- Feeling nauseous
- Feeling cold and clammy
- Feeling paralyzed and like you can speak
- Unable to smile or make eye contact with others
- Being filled with a sense of dread or terror that you can't control
- A compulsion to flee the situation immediately
If you are diagnosed with social anxiety disorder you might be prescribed prescription medications to handle the condition including:
- SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Paxil or Zoloft to help you with the anxiety and depression that is part of the disorder
- SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) that help relieve the obsessive thinking and depression associated with the disorder
- Anti-anxiety medication called benzodiazepines that may reduce your anxiety if taken before you go to a social situation (as long as you don't have an alcoholic beverage too.)
- Beta-blockers that block the production of epinephrine and help suppress the heart rate, sweating and shaking and terror associated with the disorder by blocking the function of your adrenalin glands
However, the problem with all of these prescription medicines is that they can take months to be effective and also have many upsetting side effects such as weight gain, dry mouth, behavioral problems, dental issues, and lethargy. Many of them are also addictive and cause psychological and physical dependency. This is why you may want to opt for a more natural approach to treating your diagnosed social anxiety disorder.
Ways to Treat Social Anxiety Naturally
It is preferable to avoid the psychological and physical side effects of any medication and instead practice the following to try and get control of the disorder on your own.
- 1Chances are that the very thing you fear has never happened to you before.Quell your fears by reviewing the number of times any of them have actually played out in a social situation.
- 2This is best done by asking yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?" followed up by the question, "What would happen next?" Often, answering these questions can take your mind out of the worst-case scenario and replace it with a less threatening one that you can emotionally handle. This is one of the best ways to convince yourself that you have nothing to fear while you are socializing.Tell yourself that you can handle any embarrassing situation that could possibly come up while you are socializing.
- 3It is a well-known fact that caffeine stimulates the nervous system and can escalate the shaking, sweating and pounding heart associated with social anxiety.Stop drinking coffee and colas that contain caffeine.
- 4This means staying away from donuts, cakes and colas and avoiding junk food such as French fries, potato chips, and ice cream. These are foods that trigger your adrenaline glands to produce hormones that make you feel wired and anxious. The less sugar and fried fat that you eat, the more control you are going to have over this biochemical reaction that can make you feel foggy, lost for words, frightened, shaky, sweaty and nervous.Cut back on your intake of refined sugars and fatty carbohydrates.
- 5Irritability and fear have many different causes, and one of them is a lack of sleep. If you are feeling run-down, you are more likely to suffer from social anxietySleep at least eight hours a night to help cares for your nervous system.
- 6A walk allows your metabolism and nervous system to reset itself so that you do not have anxious reactions to those around you. For best results, walk in a park where there are a lot of people, so you can condition yourself to be less anxious around them.Go for an hour-long walk every day.
- 7These foods contain Theanine, which helps some people feel calmer before attending a social engagement.Have a cup of green tea or a 70% cocoa chocolate bar before you go out.
- 8Go out together to a crowded restaurant and enjoy a meal. Another appropriate trip would be to the movies. The idea is to get into a safe space with someone who knows you well and is not going to be angry if you suddenly have to leave because you can't deal with the situation.Practice socializing in public with a small group of close friends so that you can deal with your social fears in a safe situation.
- 9Whether it be a passerby on the street or the cashier at the corner store, try making eye contact with him or her and smiling. This will help you get used to doing this when you have to use this skill in a real social situation.Practice making eye contact with yourself in the mirror and then practice making eye contact with those you encounter on a daily basis.
- 10This helps to take you out of the role of being the shy person, who is waiting for others to talk to them. When you take the initiative, it empowers you and makes you feel and seem more confident than you really might be.Initiate engagement with others by being the one to say hello to a stranger first.
- 11When you compliment someone, they tend to meet your eyes and say something back to you. This also can help prepare you for a social engagement that you fear attending, especially if you feel you might be intimidated by some e of the guests.Practice engaging with others by giving them a compliment.
- 12This is a skill that comes in handy if you find yourself lost for words in social situations. Making the conversation all about someone else spares you the potentially anxiety-ridden moments that you associate with talking about yourself and it also flatters the person that you are speaking with because it makes him or her the center of attention. Good things to ask people about are their homes children, hobbies or travels.Practice asking other people questions about their lives.
- 13Just the very act of meeting with a group once a week can help you become more accustomed to performing less awkwardly in social situations.Join a support group that can help you find the coping skills for dealing with your social anxiety.
- 14This can help you get used to having conversations with others as well as prepare you for interviews, giving dissertations or making speeches.Take a course in public speaking.
- 15These practices train the brain to be less reactive to stimuli from upsetting circumstances and help control the release of anxiety-creating hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin.Practicing yoga, tai-chi or meditation every day may help you with your anxiety.
Tips and Tricks
- If the worst case scenario does happen, remind yourself that any embarrassment that could possibly occur is likely to only last a couple of minutes before it is completely forgotten about and tell yourself that "this too shall pass."
- Make sure you are dressed appropriately and well groomed for any social situation so that you are not worried about fitting in with the rest of the people there
- Wear plenty of deodorant before you go into a social situation, just in case you start to sweat profusely when among others
- Do some research with regards to event you are about to attend so you do not feel blindsided by any questions and are better able to make casual conversation
- Wear a necklace or ring that you can fiddle with to help quell any shaking or trembling that sometimes occurs when a socially phobic person is among others
- Currently there is no known cause of a social anxiety disorder, but it might be caused by a crossing of signals in the brain, misinterpreting ordinary social situations as threats to your safety
- The rapid heartbeat associated with social anxiety might be the result of a cardiac or thyroid problem so be sure to get your heart and thyroid checked out before you assume that anxiety is the problem