Social Anxiety is the fear of being seen negatively, judged, or humiliated by others. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 15 million adults experience social anxiety. Many deal with their social anxiety for over ten years before ever seeking treatment. This is due to many sufferers and their peers blame it on the person just being overly shy.
However, social anxiety is an actual disorder that negatively affects the quality of life of the sufferer and severely holds them back much more than a person who would be who is just shy. People with social anxiety tend not to do well in academic or occupational settings with large amounts of people. They typically suffer from a low self-worth even when they know their fear is invalid and feel powerless over their disorder.
Although many sufferers of SAD would like to find a way to cure themselves of their disorder, many do not believe pharmaceuticals are the best direction for them personally. However, the answer is not always pharmaceuticals. The solution is sometimes found in the one place the problem stems from; The brain. Therefore, there are many techniques and ways to reduce or rid yourself of social anxiety without the use of doctors or drugs.
Treatment with others
Oxytocin stimulation is a way to help reduce the feelings of social anxiety by releasing oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is called the “love molecule.” Human contact stimulates oxytocin. In one study done, sufferers inhaled neuropeptide oxytocin through the nose. Those treated reported reduced feelings of SAD and comfortability in situations they usually would not. You do not need to inhale this through the nose to notice the effects though because Oxytocin is already in the brain. All one needs to do to stimulate a response similar to this is have skin-to-skin contact with another human for longer than 20 seconds. It does not need to be of a sexual nature and could be as simple as a hug. Therefore, spending time with loved ones is very beneficial to those struggling with SAD.
Treatment within self
Self-regulation therapies are also very beneficial and an easy way to treat SAD. The most common form of this therapy is called cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. This form of therapy is where the therapist and the patient agree the patient has negative thoughts or behaviors they need to work on. The therapist is focused on the problem and asks and gives advice along with techniques to help the patient better treat the problem themselves. The resolution of ambivalence is the central purpose. This form of therapy often helps establish a trust among the patient and therapist resulting in a positive and trusting relationship that SAD sufferers often have a hard time establishing.
Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, is another form of therapy that some SAD sufferers may find works better for them. In this form of therapy, the patient uses therapy to help better understand their SAD and rather than fight it, accept it as something they deal with without feeling negative towards their disorder. Although often SAD comes from an irrational place, it is a very real feeling. Patients learn to feel their feelings rather than fight them. Therefore, in social situations, the sufferer may notice their SAD heighten, but this identification of their disorder can help the sufferer realize it is just their SAD, and there is no true threat to them personally, presenting a calming and accepting effect.
Treatment using regulation
Determining social speed is another great technique to help reduce SAD. This is where you identify yourself as an introvert or an extrovert. If you have SAD, you are likely an introvert who prefers being alone. You are also likely to be overstimulated quickly in large groups or one-on-one conversations. Introverts have a much larger frontal cortex of the brain which typically results in extreme running and reflective thought as well as an easily excited nervous system. Knowing this about yourself can help plan your day accordingly. Knowing that certain events or situations can bring about your SAD can help you better deal with preparing for them or maybe even result in a change of plans. This technique is more about living comfortably with your disorder rather than treating it, but is still extremely helpful for those who are not yet ready to face the problem head on.
If you notice you are having a hard time managing your SAD, trying these techniques and methods may be very beneficial. There are also many non-pharmaceutical and natural ways to treat anxiety. It is always important to find as many resources as possible and see what works best for you.