Social anxiety is a hell of a disorder.
Of course, we all feel nervous during intense social interactions or situations. But people diagnosed with this disorder feel that way, no matter how insignificant the interaction is.
This severe fear can be stressful and shake up your entire existence, disrupting your personal and professional lives, not just socially. Your work or school performance can dwindle, as you hardly enjoy time spent outdoors or with others.
Since ayahuasca is an all-powerful psychedelic helping thousands of people deal with psychological and spiritual problems, it’s only right that people living with social anxiety are curious and willing to try it.
This article reviews such attempts and what ayahuasca may mean for future social anxiety therapy.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Living with social anxiety can be a challenging, distressing, and overwhelming experience. Various situations can trigger it, such as meeting new people, speaking in public, or being watched or evaluated by others.
The disorder can manifest in many ways, but it’s always a constant fear or anxiety about social situations and interactions with other people.
This fear can be so intense that it interferes with a person’s ability to participate in everyday activities, such as making small talk or even eye contact with others.
Patients feel excessively nervous, shy, closed-off, introverted, embarrassed, humiliated, and self-conscious—worrying about being judged, evaluated, rejected, or abandoned by others. They overly fear what others think of them and may have difficulty trusting them.
After a social situation, they often analyze their performance and identify flaws in their actions. This makes it harder to interact again, and they start expecting the worst from social interactions.
People with social anxiety may also experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart, sweating, and difficulty speaking or thinking clearly.
Severe cases of this disorder lead to avoiding social situations altogether or only participating in them with great difficulty.
It may be challenging to form and maintain friendships, participate in group activities, or engage in work or school-related tasks involving interacting with others.
Living with social anxiety can be isolating and may lead to feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. It negatively affects self-esteem, well-being, and overall quality of life.
However, with proper treatment and support, it’s possible to reduce social anxiety significantly and lead a fulfilling, meaningful life.
Treatment often involves therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy) to help individuals learn coping strategies and challenge negative thought patterns. Medication can also help manage anxiety symptoms.
How Does Ayahuasca Affect Social Anxiety?
Ayahuasca is a plant-based psychedelic tea traditionally used in Amazonian shamanic practices.
Some people use ayahuasca as a gateway to altered states of consciousness and for spiritual or personal growth. Others use it to address specific mental health concerns, such as social anxiety.
While there are studies on the positive effect of ayahuasca on generalized anxiety disorder(1)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61169-x and depression and anxiety symptoms(2)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666915321000251, there’s limited scientific research on social anxiety specifically.
However, socially anxious people who have used ayahuasca report it has helped them feel more connected to others and experience a sense of unity and oneness.
They also report becoming less self-judgmental(3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182612/, self-critical, more open, and less fearful in social situations.
So, ayahuasca experiences have been shown to reduce symptoms of social anxiety and improve the overall quality of life.
Note that social anxiety is a complex mental health condition caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
As such, it is typically treated with a combination of approaches, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Ayahuasca can augment these approaches.
For one, people have reported immediate, positive, and long-term transformations in perception and personality(4)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.749788/full.
It improves different aspects of self-image and self-identity(5)https://www.reddit.com/r/Ayahuasca/comments/hutais/after_taking_ayahuasca_did_your_self_image_change/, including self-love, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, and self-compassion.
It also decreases neuroticism(6)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-84746-0, shame, and hopelessness, while boosting openness, courage, and emotional strength. This leads to better moods, helps overcome trauma, and makes it easier to alter lifestyle choices.
All these lead to a healthier frame of mind and better general well-being(7)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2022.2077155.
Ayahuasca drinking also strengthens relationships by making people more true to themselves and open to vulnerability. They become more genuine and unrestrained, leading to calmer interactions, better communication, and deeper connections.
As you can see, ayahuasca can reduce or eliminate symptoms of social anxiety. In fact, if you Google “ayahuasca social anxiety reddit,” you’ll find tons of positive personal stories.
Social anxiety is closely linked with addiction(8)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330967162_Ayahuasca_and_the_Treatment_of_Drug_Addiction, depression(9)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378413/, loneliness(10)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.2022.2077155, and suicidality(11)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.01325/full. Luckily, ayahuasca can also remedy all those conditions and more(12)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2016.00035/full.
The Aftermath of Drinking Ayahuasca to Treat Social Anxiety
The drink helps you dig deep into your core, revealing small and big details in your past to understand your condition: how it started, why it’s holding you back, and what steps to take to break free.
People who have used ayahuasca to treat social anxiety see horrifying and satisfying visuals related to their condition.
When the ceremony is done and the effects of ayahuasca start to fade, they realize something has changed inside them.
The trip increases self-love and self-confidence while dwindling self-judgment and negative thought patterns.
Their social anxiety depreciates, and their personality takes a positive turn. With a weight lifted off their shoulders, their inner chatter became kinder, calmer, and less critical and uneasy.
It gives them the courage to be proud of everything they say and do, without overrating other people’s opinions, judgments, evaluations, criticisms, or hostility.
Ayahuasca makes them more confident, even in their silliest mistakes. It teaches them to eliminate their fears and live for the moment without caring what anyone thinks.
But the revelation of the experience goes to waste if you don’t integrate ayahuasca’s lessons and consciously change your personality and lifestyle.
You must progress mentally, emotionally, physically, and in every other aspect of your being.
The first step is to make peace with your past, embrace the present, and be optimistic about the future. Then, learn to embrace the light within yourself, which ayahuasca will reveal in detail.
Choose to live each day with one purpose: to be mindful and grateful for everything. When you’re distressed or fearful, calm down, stay positive, and do it anyway. It also helps to have some affirmations to bring yourself to reality.
A crucial part of treating social anxiety is constantly putting yourself in those situations you fear most. You’ll be anxious at first and may even get embarrassed. But the more you stay in those moments, the more you learn to salvage and, ultimately, control them.
Soon, you’ll no longer be afraid to talk to people, engage in outdoor activities, form relationships, and enjoy life.
Socially anxious people who have tried ayahuasca report practicing self-care, eating healthier, hitting the gym, approaching potential partners, having a renewed purpose, picking up outdoor hobbies, going back to school, improving work performance, and so much more.
As long as you work on yourself with the help of ayahuasca, its afterglow never fades. Its lessons will keep guiding you toward a brighter future.
The afterglow of ayahuasca lingers for months, if not years, or even a lifetime. And with it comes a newfound sense of confidence and ease in social situations. Your anxiety will melt away, and you’ll finally connect with others naturally and effortlessly.
Ayahuasca is an experience unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. The psychedelic properties will allow you to see the world in a new light and feel a deep connection with nature and others.
Some use ayahuasca to explore altered states of consciousness, but the psychoactive brew can also address specific mental health conditions like social anxiety.
We have reports of people drinking ayahuasca and feeling more connected to others. It makes them experience a sense of unity and oneness, feeling more open and less fearful in social situations.
Ayahuasca has some potential as an adjunctive treatment for social anxiety.
It may even replace therapy, medications, and other cures used in managing the condition. But it’s best to combine it with therapy, as you must face and challenge your fears to overcome them.
If you’re eager to try ayahuasca, make sure you stay off certain meds(13)https://www.ayahuascachurches.org/medical-guidelines/, opt for a trained shaman, and prepare your mind for the likely unpleasant trip.
I wish you luck on your journey to healing!