Around 15 million people in America have social anxiety disorder – a type of anxiety that is characterized by extreme fear or anxiety in some or all social settings.
Having to interact with someone at a party or at a work event can result in a plethora of symptoms – including a racing heart rate, sweating, and worries and fears about being rejected.
Social anxiety is different from being an introvert (although it can affect introverts); when present, it can make it hard for a person to interact with others in a work or social setting on a day-to-day basis.
If you have social anxiety, what treatments or approaches have been found to be effective?
Medication For Social Anxiety
Medication is not always the chosen treatment, especially in cases of mild-to-moderate social anxiety. Sometimes, doctors prescribe antidepressants, beta-blockers and benzodiazepines, which are also typically prescribed to treat serious generalized anxiety.
The Mayo Clinic reports that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first choice drug for persistent symptoms of social anxiety.
These include Paxil and Zoloft. Doctors usually prescribe low doses at first, gradually increasing to a full dose. If you are prescribed medication, it is important to stick to your prescribed dosage and consult your doctor before making any changes.
Nootropics For Mild Social Anxiety
If you have mild social anxiety, ask your doctor about nootropics. These have a positive effect on cognitive functions such as memory retention and creativity. Just a few nootropics used to reduce social anxiety include Aniracetam, Phenibut, L-Theanine, the B-Vitamins, Omega 3&6, and Zinc.
The list makes it clear that nootropics don’t always have to be taken in supplement form. Omega-3s, for instance, can be sourced from healthy fats such as walnuts, wild fatty fish, and cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for patients with social anxiety not only reduces anxiety levels, but also protects against accelerated cellular aging – as found in a study by researchers at the Karolinksa Institutet.
The researchers stated that “psychological treatment for anxiety can protect the cells against oxidative stress and cellular ageing.” Another study by scientists at Linköping Universitet found that after nine weeks of online CBT, patients with social anxiety had less anxiety and experienced changes in their brain volume and activity.
The more patients improved, the greater the reduction of activity in the amygdala (the ‘feeling’ part of the brain that plays an important role in behavior).
There are many natural approaches that people with social anxiety can opt for. These include exercise and relaxation activities like yoga, found by Queen’s University researchers to have a powerful impact on social anxiety.
In their study, the researchers found that participants who walked or jogged on a treadmill for just 10 minutes perceived less threat in their environment than those who did no exercise at all.
If you wish to take up an exercise, consider a blend of aerobic, strength and mindful exercises to boost endorphin levels and learn to control negative thought patterns.
If you have social anxiety, seek professional help so you can formulate a successful strategy. Treatment can range from medication to natural approaches such as yoga, Tai Chi, and other mindful practices.
Nootropics such as Omega-3 can also play an important role in symptom reduction, so a multifaceted approach may work well for you.