Since embarking on my voyage into understanding what causes social anxiety disorder and its effects rarely a week passes without hearing news on how it can be treated. From everything I’ve heard I believe that popping ‘happy pills’, such as Prozac, on their own are not the answer. Drugs can help cushion some of social anxiety and depression’s harsher symptoms, but you have to change the way you think and behave for long term recovery.
In the UK’s national news today the findings of research by Professor Jane Plant and Janet Stephenson (National Health Service psychologist) were announced, which are described in their new book: ‘Beating Stress, Anxiety and Depression’.
With 2.4 million Brits estimated to suffer from anxiety and one in six expected to experience depression at some stage, the two experts’ constructive suggestions, based on scientific evidence, have been well received.
Their advice is to change your diet, behaviour and appearance to improve your self esteem and sense of well being. Relying on a prescription from the doctor alone to solve your problem is not the answer (although a visit is always recommended on your road to recovery).
Their suggestions include:
- Smile – even if you feel the weight of anxiety pushing down on you, at least appearing happier and more approachable will improve how people respond to you. This in turn can help lift your mood and improve how you interact with others.
- Eat fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids for breakfast and porridge at night to help you sleep.
- Make lifestyle changes to be more active such as going out dancing (any form of regular exercise is highly recommended if not essential)
- Treat yourself to a new hairstyle or clothes to improve your self confidence (I’d suggest this is more of a temporary measure and relying on ‘retail therapy’ to improve your mood poses its own risks)
- Avoid living a materialistic lifestyle or getting sucked into celebrity culture – everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and you shouldn’t regard touched up images and glamorised lifestyles as a yardstick for valuing yourself as a human being.
I think any book that uses scientific evidence to show that you need to change the way you think and behave in order to overcome depression and social anxiety disorder is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.
You might have to find your own path to a happier, more fulfilling life, but there’s are plenty of helpful information on the web and on bookstore shelves to help you find the way.