Social Anxiety Disorder — Beyond Being Shy

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is defined as a persistent fear of social or performance situations and can be extreme and disabling. It is a disorder that can alter the course of a life, causing a person to avoid situations that are common and trivial for those without the disorder.

Social Anxiety Disorder will affect career choices, learning opportunities, social opportunities, and cause a person to live in a constant state of paranoia, believing that everyone is watching and criticizing them. A person with SAD is afraid to venture out for fear of embarrassment and judgment. Nevertheless, he may venture out and suffer from a variety of symptoms for doing so, both in the experience and in anticipation of the experience.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • Blushing
  • Fear of appearing foolish
  • Fear of judgment
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of saying the wrong thing
  • Fear of social performance
  • Palpitations
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Preoccupation with how you appear to others
  • Respiratory distress
  • Sense of impending doom for the future
  • Shaking
  • Sweating

This condition is likely to keep you from doing the kinds of things required to perform the daily tasks of personal and professional business. You might have a fear of eating in public places, so avoid the business lunch. You may be unable to confront people in authority and thus, be unable to stand up for your rights or get a raise. You may so dislike talking to strangers that you do not get refunds on defective goods, report a missing shipment or solve a host of other daily life issues. It might be hard to network for your business because you have trouble talking to strangers. Maybe your love life suffers because you are too afraid of rejection to ask someone on a date (so the only people you might date are those who will ask you).

A constant state of stress and anxiety seriously undermines your health. We are not designed for a continual fight-or-flight response to the world around us. To compound the problem, there frequently is an “overlap between different anxiety disorders, depression, and alcohol and drug abuse. “( Kaufman JD, Charney D. Comorbidity of mood and anxiety disorders. Depress Anxiety. 2000;12(Suppl 1):69–76. [PubMed])

PREVALENCE

SAD is estimated to affect up to 13% of the population.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Generally, the mainstream approach is through psychotherapy and medications, or both. Medications my include antidepressants and beta-blockers.

SELF TREATMENT

The substances and suggestions here are offered to you for further research.

DIET

A healthy immune system and balanced hormones is always the first line of defense against physical and mental disorders. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Fermented foods
  • Foods high in B vitamins (lamb, beef liver, sardines, salmon, eggs)
  • Foods high in folic acid: Citrus, beans, leafy greens, avocados

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE

  • A little is probably ok if it isn’t contra-indicated for other conditions, but using alcohol to get through the day is a dangerous habit to cultivate. It also makes you more likely to behave in ways that are embarrassing—one of the things you dread the most.
  • Caffeine may increase anxiety in some people.
  • Research suggests that smoking is linked to an increased risk of anxiety disorders. Also, if your goal is to balance your body’s hormones and overall health, smoking is just about the worst thing you can do.
  • Sugar, or excessive sugar, plays havoc with your blood sugar causing highs and lows, so eliminate all processed foods. Sugar may also contribute to inflammation, having an effect on our nervous system, which can lead to anxiety.

CALMING TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Green tea
  • Hops (with other teas) at bedtime
  • Kava
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Oregano
  • Passionflower
  • Peppermint
  • Rose tea
  • Valerian root

HERBS AND SPICES

Remember that ingesting some herbs as supplements can cause side effects and that long-term use can do permanent damage.

  • Kava is used for calming but can cause liver damage if used too much for too long
  • Valerian can also cause liver damage with long-term use
  • Passionflower
  • Ashwagandha

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own. The following are anxiety-calming oils:

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Clary sage
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Marjoram
  • Neroli
  • Palmarosa
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang ylang

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Creatine monohydrate
  • L-lysine
  • Omega 3’s
  • RediCalm
  • John’s Wort for depression
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D

HYDRATION

Dehydration affects brain chemistry, which can lead to, or worsen your anxiety. Dehydration also increases cortisol levels. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Regular exercise may ease your anxiety, increase the production of hormones that lift your mood, and give a boost to your immune system. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

SLEEP

Insomnia increases a person’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder. If you wake in the morning after 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep feeling unrested, you aren’t getting enough sleep or you have an underlying health condition.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Anxiety takes a serious toll on our health. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you, although you will need more than a little stress management to overcome SAD.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Quality sleep
  • Regular exercise
  • Stress management
  • Treatment!

READING

  • Change your brain, change your life: The breakthrough program for conquering anxiety, depression, obsessiveness, lack of focus, anger and memory problems. Daniel G. Amen
  • Healing anxiety and depression Daniel G. Amen
  • Status Anxiety Alain de Botton
  • You can find a pretty thorough discussion about anxiety disorders, research, mainline treatments, and complementary treatments here.
SHARE