Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, is a common anxiety condition. It refers to an overwhelming and persistent fear of social situations. Social anxiety disorder can be anxiety and intense fear over simple daily activities, such as speaking on the phone or shopping.
Social Anxiety Disorder Signs and Symptoms
A child with SAD may freeze, cry more than usual, or have a bad temper. They might fear to go to school, take part in school performances and other activities. Adults with this disorder may dread certain everyday activities, as:
- Starting conversations
- Meeting strangers
- Speaking on the phone
- Drinking or eating with company
- Talking to authority figures
- Talking in groups
People with SAD may also:
- Have low self-confidence and self-esteem
- Feel insecure about them and their relationships
- Misuse alcohol or drugs to try to decrease their anxiety
- Avoid eye-to-eye contacts
- Fear being criticized
- Have panic attack or other similar symptoms, as feeling sick, trembling, and sweating.
- Experience other mental health problems, as depression, panic, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Though social anxiety disorder usually requires help from a qualified psychotherapist or another medical expert, you can try certain self-help techniques in order to handle some situations that are likely to trigger SAD symptoms:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Avoid alcohol
- Get enough sleep
- Join a local or online support group
- Reach out to family members or friends with whom you feel comfortable
- Limit the intake of caffeine
- Get physical exercise and try to be physically active
- Gradually practice activities that cause you less anxiety
The most important thing is to consider your fears to identify what cause you anxiety. After that, gradually practice these actions till they cause you less anxiety. Start with small steps in situations that are not overwhelming. You should practice these situations:
- Have a lunch with a close friend or relative in a public setting;
- Give someone a compliment;
- Make eye contact;
- Be the first to say ‘Hello’
- Call an old friend to make plans;
- Show an interest in others, for example: ask about their children, homes, hobbies, travels, or grandchildren;
- Spend time in nature;
2. Prepare yourself for social situations
Being social when you are feeling anxious is really challenging. Initially, it may seem difficult and even painful, but you should face with situations that trigger SAD symptoms. By repeatedly facing these situations, you will continue to build and strengthen your coping skills.
Here are some strategies that can help you start to face situations that make you anxious:
- Focus on your personal qualities;
- Prepare for conversation, for instance, by reading something to identify a funny story you can talk about;
- Set realistic goals;
- Practice some relaxation exercises, you can try yoga or meditation;
- Implement stress management methods;
- Recover from embarrassing situations by showing more self-confidence, and
- Do not use alcohol to carl yourself because in a long run it can make you feel even more nervous.
Certain herbal remedies have been studied as treatments for social anxiety disorder, but more research is required to fully understand the benefits and of course, the risks. Here’s what experts know:
Kava has great calming effects and can help relieve numerous problems, most notably anxiety, stress, and disrupted sleep forms. Moreover, kava’s anxiolytic (anti-anxiety or anti-panic agent) and calming properties can offset social anxiety disorder and some other related ailments. But, some reports claim that long term usage of Kava can cause serious liver damage. However, The Food and Drug Administration has issued certain warnings but not banned Kava sales in the U.S. You can use Kava occasionally, but you need to avoid using kava if you have liver problems or take drugs that affect your liver.
Theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea and certain supplements. Some studies found that theanine might make some individuals feel calmer. But, further research is required.
Passionflower has been used to treat insomnia and traditionally in homeopathic medicine to treat sleep problems and pain, related to hysteria or neurasthenia, and anxious exhaustion.
However, a few studies suggest that passionflower may help with anxiety. Passionflower is considered safe, so you can consume it in a form of tea or supplement. But, be careful with the dosage because some research claims that it may cause dizziness and confusion.
Valerian is an appreciated treatment for insomnia. In many studies, people who used this herb reported less stress and anxiety. Discuss valerian with your GP before using it. Drink Valerian tea or use it in a supplement form to reduce stress and anxiety. You should not use valerian if you have liver issues.
Note: Before taking some of these herbal remedies or supplements, you should consult your GP to make sure they’re safe for your health condition and won’t interact with any medicines you take.
Certain lifestyle changes can help you get better and get rid of social anxiety disorder. Natural remedies may support your treatment, but you need to consult your care professional to make sure they’re safe for you. Yoga and meditation can help you improve your condition. Over time, self-care techniques will help control the symptoms and prevent a relapse.