How Can Seniors Cope With Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
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How Can Seniors Cope With Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

March 4, 2019 | Health | By Lisa Smith

The life of seniors with social anxiety disorder (SAD) can get adversely affected with development of other illnesses, including mental issues if left untreated. We will talk in details how can seniors cope with social anxiety disorder.

What Does SAD In Seniors Feel Like

A person is affected by social anxiety disorder when a person feels extremely nervous and self-conscious of himself even in situations that are routine and every day in nature. In seniors it manifests a feeling of being judged and so leads to embarrassment. The feeling of not looking good anymore or being unable to speak as fluently or being embarrassed on not recalling people and their names. Usually seniors who have witnessed some trauma like the sudden passing away of their spouse, having other chronic conditions, or being unmarried are found to develop SAD.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

SAD is seen in seniors in the form of:

  • A lot of sweating
  • Nausea
  • Garbled talk
  • Extreme blushing
  • Trembling of the limbs
  • Inability to speak at public gatherings
  • Nervousness to eat amidst others
  • Unwillingness to use public restrooms even if there is an urgency for it
  • Constant feeling of being judged negatively by others
  • Unwillingness to reach out to the doctor for help

Effects Of Social Anxiety Disorder In Seniors

SAD in adults can really impair their lives. If left untreated it can lead to:

  • Other mental issues like depression
  • Development of physical disabilities
  • Lower levels of mobility
  • Memory loss

How To Cope With Social Anxiety Disorder

Need More Empathy

If you know of an older person with SAD then reach out to him with more empathy and support. Often when such people find that they are being encouraged, they tend to open up a little and baby steps are good enough to start with.

Approach The Doctor With A Note

If you think you have SAD and hence feel embarrassed to go to your doctor and speak to him about it, thus shying away from treatment, then here is a way out for you. Write all about your troubles and feelings and the issues that you are facing in the form of a note and hand it to your doctor. A doctor would always be willing to read the note instead of grilling you with excessive questions.

Be Proud Of Small Accomplishments

Feeling shy in a public gathering can happen to many and you are not alone facing it. So, slowly get over the shyness. You could start by wishing a ‘good morning’ to those walking with you at the park, going to events where leaders talk about positivity, and joining interactive hobby classes like book reading. Be proud of every small accomplishment of yours.

Medical Treatment

Treatment of SAD in seniors is often a little complicated because it comes together with other factors like depression, ongoing medication etc. Added to this is the fact that seniors are already having medicines and hence care should be taken so the current one being prescribed for SAD should not react with the rest. The main medications used for SAD are these:

  • Antidepressants: These help to bring changes in the brain’s chemistry. Usually its effect is felt after 4-6 weeks and so you must make sure that you are taking them exactly as prescribed
  • Anti-anxiety drugs: These are more for a short term use and are fast acting. But these should be carefully prescribed as there are some which have the risk of memory loss and unsteadiness. Also, these fast acting drugs, should not suddenly be stopped but gradually tapered off
  • Beta blockers: Beta blockers help SAD patients because they prevent the adverse physical symptoms that occur in such people

Write Down Your Medicines

Taking the right medicines is as important as taking them in time. So, if you find that you are forgetting them or getting confused with which one to take when then here are a few things that you could do:

  • Write down the schedule and pin it up in a place which you can see and consult everyday
  • Ask a family member to help you out
  • Hire a caregiver who can take care of your needs including the timely intake of the medicines

Try Alternative Therapies

Other than medication, some of the other things that can help you in overcoming SAD are these:

  • Yoga that helps you to relax your muscles together with deep breathing
  • Massage
  • Therapy using music and dance and art
  • Mediation
  • Listening to talks by a leaders
  • Acupuncture

While you do these, there are certain things that you should avoid:

  • Caffeine which means giving up on coffee, tea, chocolate
  • Smoking
  • Taking OTC medicines for cold
  • Having herbal supplements
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

Stop Reading/Watching Current News

It is good to be abreast of what is happening in the world around you, but when you have SAD then excessive amounts of sad or negative news can affect your brain’s psyche. Hence, do not stay glued to the TV or the newspaper reading about current news all the time.

Find Support Groups

Join support groups so that you can share your conditions, get more information, participate in social group activities etc. This will help you to slowly open up and form new friendships.

Don’t feel shy to diagnose yourself to know if you have SAD or not and if you do then its time to take action by self or with family support.


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