Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is characterized by intense and anxious feelings. People with social anxiety have a strong fear of being watched and judged by others. They get embarrassed easily and have trouble facing typical social situations, like public speaking, eating and drinking in front of others, and talking to people. This article will discuss social anxiety and highlight helpful treatments for it.
Social anxiety is manifested by extreme shyness and discomfort in social settings. Causes of social anxiety disorder can range from anything like stress and genetics to previous emotional trauma. However, the leading cause of anxiety in middle aged women is hormone fluctuations experienced during menopause. In fact, women are twice more likely to develop anxiety than men.
This is because estrogen levels fluctuate, drop, and stay consistently low during the menopause transition. Since estrogen significantly affects the brain's regulation of mood and emotions, middle aged women are at higher risk of developing mental health disorders when estrogen levels sharply decline.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include:
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty speaking
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms usually worsen once they start, since people suffering from them feel like everyone is watching them.
How to Control Social Anxiety
Follow these tips to control your social anxiety episodes:
Exercising regularly is the key to reducing stress and releasing “feel-good” neurotransmitters, like serotonin, in the brain. Ideally, one should get around 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days of the week. Walking, yoga, and swimming are all good forms of low-impact workouts that promote calmness and relaxation.
Making simple dietary changes can also be beneficial to reducing anxiety symptoms. Including protein, fiber, fatty acids, and fruits and vegetables into meals is ideal for optimum performance and boosting energy.
Herbs with sedative properties have been shown to help ease anxiety symptoms, calm the nerves, and soothe restlessness. Kava root, lavender, hops, valerian, lemon balm, and passion flower are all calming herbs that are popular for treating anxiety.
Seeking professional help is highly recommended if you think you are suffering from social anxiety. Talk therapy and prescription medication - or sometimes a combination of the two - are effective for treating this type of anxiety.
Knowing you are not alone is a big part of treating social anxiety. Going to support groups can be very beneficial because you meet people that are going through similar things, and they can offer helpful advice.
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by intense anxious and self-conscious feelings in everyday social situations, like talking to people and eating in public. Anxiety disorders affect around 25 million Americans on average, and occur two times more in women than in men. Middle-aged women are at the highest risk of developing an anxiety disorder because of hormone fluctuations experienced during menopause. Seeking professional help, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet can help put social anxiety under control.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Anxiety disorders. Retrieved on September 25, 2014 from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Anxiety disorders fact sheet. Women's Health. Retrieved on September 25, 2014 from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/anxiety-disorders.html