Dealing with anxiety is never fun, but it is an expected part of life. When it comes on once in a while, it’s manageable. But anxiety can also be crippling. From panic attacks to PTSD to social anxiety, there are many kinds and just as many types of things that help reduce the intense feelings that anxiety can create. But when you struggle with social anxiety, it can be so debilitating that you may turn to unhealthy coping strategies.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is one of the five main categories of anxiety and is sometimes called social phobia. This disorder is driven by overwhelming anxiety or self-consciousness that occurs in everyday situations. Some people experience single phobias that occur only in one situation, such as public speaking. But social anxiety can be severe enough that a person experiences symptoms whenever they are around other people.
Typically, the anxiety doesn’t get better or go away and can interfere with daily life. The anxiety stems from the worry that they aren’t good enough, that they will embarrass themselves, or be seen in a negative light. Instead of facing it, they avoid social situations.
It is unknown where anxiety comes from, but it is believed that exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events that occur in early childhood can contribute. If your family has a history of mental illness, it can also play a factor. In addition, some health conditions, caffeine, and medications can all produce or intensify symptoms.
How Social Anxiety and Alcohol Relate
Anxiety and alcohol go hand-in-hand for a few reasons. First, alcohol is something that people sometimes turn to when they are stressed, depressed, anxious, or dealing with tough situations. It is a coping mechanism that often turns into an addiction.
According to statistics, 20% of people dealing with social anxiety also have an alcohol use disorder. This shows the dangers of relying on an addictive substance such as alcohol to cope with social anxiety.
People dealing with anxiety, especially social anxiety, might feel that alcohol makes them more comfortable and able to handle social situations, so they drink before heading out. This is an illusion.
Healthline explains that those feelings are temporary and that alcohol changes the serotonin levels and affects the brain’s neurotransmitters. This can worsen anxiety and can make you feel more anxious for a whole day after drinking. The more you drink to cope, the less it works as a coping mechanism. Anxiety can also occur when people are withdrawing from alcohol.
Why CBD Is the Better Option
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a type of cannabinoid, a chemical naturally found in cannabis (also known as marijuana) plants. Even though it comes from cannabis, CBD does not contain the specific cannabinoid that gets you high, THC. This is part of what makes it safer.
There are benefits to CBD. It is easy to take and carry discretely and it’s fast-acting. Research is promising about its role in improving mental and physical health. That’s because CBD has properties that act like reversal agents for anxious behavior.
Researchers have studied CBD for its effects on many different conditions, from anxiety to epilepsy to cancer. In 2011, a study found that participants with social anxiety who received a dose of CBD instead of a placebo had reduced levels of anxiety.
Dosage matters, as shown by an additional study of people before a public-speaking event. While the placebo, 150mg, and 600mg doses made little difference, 300mg worked well for the study’s subjects. While researchers continue to conduct studies, it appears that using CBD produces less severe side effects. It does not appear to be addictive, either.
Side effects include possible diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in appetite or weight. It can also interact with medications in the way grapefruit does, affecting the metabolism of a user. But overall, CBD is considered relatively safe and can be a better coping mechanism than alcohol. However, it is just that – a coping mechanism – and finding help to get to the root of your anxiety is still a wise choice.
Getting Help for Social Anxiety
If you are dealing with social anxiety or another mental health struggle, it is crucial to find help before your problems become more significant issues. Counselors, alcohol rehab programs, and other forms of treatment are available to meet your needs. Or, talk to someone about how CBD can improve your life. Many types of assistance are available.
– This article was written and contibuted by Patrick Bailey
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