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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Seattle, WA
Supplements, Food and Mood
Social Anxiety Background
Social anxiety has affected me since I was in elementary school. While it was triggered initially by a traumatic experience, it is something that runs in the family and I certainly had a predisposition for. Some examples of how it manifested itself over the years: avoiding certain types of social situations and friends, avoiding public speaking, avoiding the opposite sex completely, hiding in the library during lunch, the thought of just walking down certain hallways at my highschool terrified me, fear of being around large groups of people, fear and avoidance of going to parties or social gatherings, etc. My social anxiety started to get severe when I dropped out of college after one quarter because of my social anxiety. That's when I started to get uncomfortable just leaving my apartment and hit "the bottom" so to speak. Through treatment with group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (EMDR) for mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and medication I've been able to live the balanced life that I value and form healthy friendships and relationships.
There are a few other books out there that cover the same topic (just do a search on Amazon), but I think this is the most comprehensive and would recommend this if it would be your first or only book on the topic. I've tried various medications by themselves and tried medications combined with supplements. Ultimately the medication route has been the more beneficial one for me.
I had a negative experience with Prozac, which lead me to pursue the "natural" route via supplementation. This is one of the books I bought and definitely the most comprehensive.
I dove into it and bought all the supplements recommended for someone with anxiety and depression issues and followed the recommended diet.
How did it go?
Well, they worked and they didn't work. I adopted a very complicated supplementation plan where I was taking supplements seven times a day. That, in it of itself, was somewhat of an annoyance with my schedule throughout the week.
The issue I ran into was knowing how much of each supplement to take. I'd be in a great mood with no anxiety for part of the day and then dive in the afternoon, but I was taking so many different supplements I didn't know which one to increase and which one to decrease and how much. Being a perfectionist, I found the process a little frustrating and I got a little obsessive about it, along with taking the diet restriction to the extreme (ie no sugar). It led to more anxiety about social situations where food was involved because I'd have to be careful about what I was eating and be taking a handful of supplements.
At best, my overall anxiety was decreased and I stopped having panic attacks for the most part, but my depression increased in the afternoons and evenings. I imagine I could have gotten it all tuned in right eventually if I'd kept at it, but I just found the process frustrating: taking so many supplements, keeping a strict diet and not having clear guidelines for how to adjust the supplement dosing.
I've since stopped taking all the supplements except for a multi-vitamin and melatonin for sleep and have re-tried the medication route with a more qualified psychiatrist and much better results.
Despite stopping the supplements, I've loosely kept the diet, which seems pretty common sense, but I wasn't eating anywhere close before. Basically, it includes getting protein at each meal (from fish a couple times a week), and every day eating a lot of green leafy vegetables, high carb vegetables (like potatoes and carrots), beans and legumes, and whole grain carbs.
I've noticed that my feelings of anxiety increase if I don't eat properly. I can even notice it when I miss one meal. I'd already learned from Dr. Richard's Overcoming Social Anxiety audio program how and why exercise makes you feel less anxious, but from the Mood Cure I learned how much diet can play a role.
I still think this is a great read for anyone with social anxiety. I learned a lot about just how much supplements and diet can play a role in the mood I experience throughout the day.