Social anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in the world. Though many people confuse it with shyness or social awkwardness. It’s more than that, and it has a lot to do with brain chemicals.
There are quite a lot of nootropics that are good for preventing and treating anxiety. Some make your mind more active, others help your body better cope with the effects of stress, and there are also nootropics that can provide anxiolytic effects.
Do you think you might be suffering from social anxiety? This article aims to help you make the best choice to help you manage your anxiety with the help of nootropics.
Social anxiety can be described as having negative feelings and irrational fears that occur during social situations. It is split into two categories:
Non-generalized social anxiety: this is when anxiety occurs only in certain types of social situations.
Generalized social anxiety: this is when the sufferer experiences anxiety in any social situation.
People who suffer from social anxiety may not express it that clearly. They may look normal from the outside and be a nervous wreck on the inside.
Regardless of whether it’s generalized or non-generalized, social anxiety may manifest itself in many forms:
Fear of speaking in social situations
Excessive fear of being judged and criticized by others
Avoidance of social settings
Rapid heart rate
Social anxiety can be difficult to cope with, and it can lead to self-esteem issues. People suffering from social anxiety may feel that somehow this is their fault and they lack the necessary social skills to function effectively.
That mostly isn’t really the case, as social anxiety is primarily a chemical imbalance in the brain. If the balance is made normal again, social anxiety symptoms often disappear.
GABA is sometimes touted as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter and it certainly plays a vital role in keeping anxiety in check, though it’s not everything when it comes to social anxiety. GABA, glutamate, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine also play a role in anxiety regulation.
That’s why some people who are undergoing treatment with GABA-increasing medication have reported that the treatment doesn’t yield the desired effects. In this case, the problem lies elsewhere, with another neurotransmitter, and it is your job to seek medical advice for the best approach to balancing out your neurochemicals.
Nootropics work on brain chemicals by either increasing or decreasing their activity. GABA is mainly responsible for anxiety reduction. Increased GABA levels lead to a decrease in excitatory neurotransmitter levels.
Increased norepinephrine levels accentuate the “fight-or-flight” response, and high levels of this neurotransmitter will lead beyond productive and desired wakefulness to anxiety and inexplicable worrying.
Serotonin also regulates anxiety and other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. Too much or too little will lead to an overall chemical imbalance in the brain. Dopamine promotes confidence and self-esteem and a lack of this neurochemical may trigger intense feelings of insecurity and agitation. Imbalances may also be caused by an abnormality in glutamate levels, the main excitatory neurotransmitter that is involved in every neural pathway.
Phenibut is part of the gabapentinoid class of substances. It’s structurally similar to GABA, with an added phenyl ring to it. This allows Phenibut to cross the blood-brain barrier and produce psychoactive effects which are similar to GHB, alcohol or benzodiazepines.
The main difference between these substances is that Phenibut calms the mind without impeding cognitive abilities. Phenibut is ideal for both preventing anxiety-related productivity decrease and making one more relaxed and clear-headed during social situations.
Tianeptine is very effective in helping one relax and focus at the same time. Users report that it’s also stimulating in low doses in a similar way to a small dose of caffeine. Tianeptine increases focus, thought speed and motivation while suppressing anxiety and providing muscle relaxation.
Ashwagandha is a herb that’s been in use for centuries for its health benefits and relaxing properties. Nowadays, it’s many biohackers’ key component in stacks because of its efficacy in “taking the edge off” stimulating nootropics. Ashwagandha boosts focus, decreases fatigue, restores energy and relieves anxiety, even when taken alone. It creates a certain groovy feeling of mental comfort and eases the pressures of social interaction for people who are suffering from social anxiety. If taken alone, it may slow down mental abilities, which is why it’s usually combined with caffeine.
Kratom, or mitragyna speciosa, is a herb that grows in the Southeastern part of Asia, particularly in Bali, Malaysia and Thailand. Kratom is quite a versatile species of pplant because its effects vary greatly from strain to strain. Some strains, such as Malay and Maeng da, can be quite energetic and are ideal for productivity. Bali strains, particularly Red Bali, provide calming effects and are very effective in preventing anxiety. Even energetic strains are sedating and provide anxiolytic effects when taken in high doses.
Aniracetam is an analog of Piracetam that increases focus, reduces anxiety, improves mood and quality of sleep. It was designed as a more potent version of Piracetam, yet the resulting nootropic has been shown to provide a wider range of effects. Aniracetam’s anxiolytic properties are explained by its increase in dopamine and serotonin.
L-Theanine is an amino-acid that is commonly found in green tea leaves. It’s the reason why green tea feels less agitating than coffee. Still, you would need around half a dozen cups of green tea to get enough L-theanine for a regular dose, and its effects would be blurred out by the high amount of caffeine that you would ingest. To feel its full effects, L-theanine supplements are available.
L-theanine increases alpha brain waves, which creates a sense of clarity and wakefulness, similar to the feelings created when meditating. L-theanine decreases anxiety and relaxes the mind without slowing it down, making it adequate for learning, productivity and social situations as well.
Bacopa Monnieri, or Brahmi as it is also known, is one of the oldest nootropics in use and an essential part of Ayurvedic medicine. It provides memory-enhancing effects and can greatly improve focus by quieting the mind and making one feel more at ease.
Like Ashwagandha, Bacopa Monnieri is an adaptogen herb, meaning that it helps the body better deal with the negative effects of stress and exhibits anxiolytic effects in people suffering from mild-to-moderate levels of anxiety. The two herbs are often paired together for a more potent anxiolytic effects, although it may cause drowsiness. The combination is better suited when wanting to relax after a hard day’s work.
Picamilon is essentially a combination of two essential nutrients: vitamin B3 and GABA. The niacin that is attached to the GABA allows Picamilon to pass the blood-brain barrier, after which it splits back into the two compounds. Picamilon helps with learning by increasing memory and focus. Also, it stabilizes mood by significantly lowering anxiety and the effects of stress. It relaxes the body and the mind without exhibiting sedating effects.
Which is the best nootropic for social anxiety?
Some nootropics are quite effective in treating social anxiety. Doctors nowadays are over-prescribing antidepressants which can be quite addictive and ineffective in treating the root cause.
Nootropics can be very beneficial for mental health. Social anxiety isn’t the same for everyone, and some nootropics may benefit the sufferer more than others. It’s a subjective matter, which is why experimentation is a wise choice to identify what works best for you.