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Vitamin B Complex & Social Phobia

By Kathryn Gilhuly

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is the third most common mental health care problem and may affect more than 1 in 10 people during their lifetimes, according to the non-profit organization Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association. Medication and cognitive therapy may relieve social phobia. Although the B vitamins help regulate your body’s stress hormones, taking vitamin B complex will not necessarily help and may prove harmful. Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin B complex for any reason.

Social Phobia Basics

If you have a strong fear of social situations such as meeting people in authority, speaking formally in public, being teased or making conversation with strangers, you may suffer from social phobia. Symptoms of social phobia include trembling, excessive sweating, blushing, heart palpitations and dry mouth. Many people might experience some of these symptoms in some situations. Social phobia means you suffer intense, nearly constant fear in a variety of public situations. You may fear signing a check in front of a bank teller or call in sick rather than attend a meeting at work.

B Vitamin Complex

The B vitamins help support a healthy nervous system and help your body produce sex and stress hormones. Some people take B vitamin complex to alleviate stress, but no evidence suggests that this will work. Taking B vitamins could potentially increase your level of anxiety, depending on the type and amount you take. B complex supplements are not all the same. One might contain 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance for one vitamin, 6,000 percent of the RDA for another and omit some B vitamins altogether. If you take excessive amounts of vitamin B or take them in disproportionate amounts, you might end up feeling more or less anxious.

Treating Social Phobia

Traditional treatment for social phobia includes cognitive-behavior therapy, a type of psychotherapy that aims to change the way you think about and react to situations. It might, for instance, provide tools to help you overcome negative thought patterns that make you fear social situations. Your doctor may also prescribe medications such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. Beta-blockers, a medication that can help slow your heart rate and control shaking, may also prove beneficial. All medications pose risks, however, and one type of drug used to treat social phobia -- monoamine oxidase inhibitors – pose serious dangers when combined with some foods and medications.

Vitamin B Risks

If you think taking vitamin B complex might help you cope with social phobia, ask your doctor before self-medicating with the supplement. Although you can purchase B complex without a prescription, the practice may prove unsafe. Fairly minor side effects of taking vitamin B complex include changes in urine color, headaches, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Taking B vitamins also could lower or elevate your blood sugar and blood pressure levels and worsen symptoms of kidney disease. Two B vitamins in particular, B-3 and B-6, pose serious dangers if taken in high amounts. Side effects include nerve, brain and liver damage as well as vision loss and irregular heartbeat.

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