8 Best Nootropics For Social Anxiety In 2022

Written on October 24, 2022 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

In this article, I'll look closely at the 8 best nootropics for social anxiety. I'll also cover the potential risks and side effects you may run into, as well as the benefits you can expect.

According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS), an estimated 7.1% of U.S. adults had a social anxiety disorder in the past year [1]“Social Anxiety Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder..

This means that, out of every 100 U.S. adults, 7.1 of them would have experienced a social anxiety disorder in the past year. The prevalence of social anxiety disorder was higher for females (8.0%) than for males (6.1%). An estimated 12.1% of U.S. adults experience a social anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.

So what can nootropics do for social anxiety? Nootropics have been known to improve cognitive function, enhance mood and boost energy levels. These effects can help alleviate symptoms of social anxiety disorder, such as negative thoughts, avoidance behaviors, and physical symptoms (e.g., sweating and trembling).

Let's examine the 8 best nootropics for social anxiety in 2022.

The best nootropics for social anxiety, according to scientific evidence, are:

  • Mind Lab Pro
  • Phenibut
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • L-Theanine
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • F-Phenibut
  • 5-HTP
  • Ashwagandha

1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic blend. This means that it includes 11 nootropic ingredients, all of which have been shown to improve cognitive function and mood. Mind Lab Pro's key ingredients include Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine (PS) and Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) is considered an adaptogen, a class of herbs that help the body cope with stress. A recent study has found that it may help treat symptoms of menopause, depression, and poor sleep quality [2]Nagano, Mayumi et al. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan) vol. 31,4 (2010): 231-7. doi:10.2220/biomedres.31.231.

The study involved 30 female participants randomly assigned to either the Hericium Erinaceus group or the placebo group. The participants in the Hericium Erinaceus group were given cookies containing the mushroom extract, while the participants in the placebo group were given cookies without the extract.

At the end of the four-week study period, both the CES-D and ICI scores improved in the Hericium Erinaceus group but not in the placebo group.

CES-D and ICI scores are measures of depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively. Improved scores indicate fewer symptoms. These results suggest that Hericium Erinaceus is beneficial in treating symptoms of menopause, depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality.

Mind Lab Pros

  • Contains 11 potent nootropic ingredients that work synergistically
  • Is a safe and an all-natural nootropic blend
  • Ideal for people who suffer from social anxiety
  • Improves overall brain health

Mind Lab Pro Cons

  • Can be expensive for people on a budget

Mind Lab Pro in Summary

Mind Lab Pro is a popular nootropic blend that contains 11 powerful nootropic ingredients. All of these ingredients work synergistically to improve social anxiety and mental health. Mind Lab Pro is a safe and all-natural option, but it may be expensive for some.

2. Phenibut

Phenibut is a chemical derivative of the naturally occurring neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is known to play a role in regulating anxiety and has calming effects. Phenibut is thought to work by mimicking GABA's effects on the brain [3]Kupats, Einars et al. “Safety and Tolerability of the Anxiolytic and Nootropic Drug Phenibut: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials and Case Reports.” Pharmacopsychiatry vol. 53,5 (2020): … Learn more.

This reduces anxiety and improves mood. Phenibut is sometimes used as a self-care treatment for social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD is an anxiety disorder that causes fear, avoidance, and tension during social interactions.

People with SAD often have difficulty with public speaking, meeting new people, or being in social situations. These fears can be so debilitating that they can make it difficult to work or go to school.

Phenibut relieves social anxiety by reducing fear, improving mood, and promoting relaxation.

Phenibut Pros

  • A powerful tranquilizer and mood enhancer
  • Helps alleviate symptoms of social anxiety disorder
  • Improves sleep and reduces stress

Phenibut Cons

  • Can be addictive if used regularly
  • Can cause withdrawal symptoms

Phenibut in Summary

Phenibut exerts anxiolytic effects and can improve mood. It is sometimes used as a self-care treatment for social anxiety disorder, but it can be addictive if used regularly. It should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

3. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri is a plant used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various conditions, including anxiety and memory problems. Some recent research has indicated that Bacopa may also help to reduce social anxiety.

It increases serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, improving mood and reducing anxiety.

One study looked at the effects of Bacopa monnieri on cognitive function and affect in healthy elderly individuals [4]Calabrese, Carlo et al. “Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” … Learn more. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted with a placebo run-in of 6 weeks and a treatment period of 12 weeks.

54 participants, 65 or older (mean 73.5 years), without clinical signs of dementia, were recruited and randomized to Bacopa or placebo. 48 participants completed the study, with 24 in each group.

Standardized B. Monnieri Extract 300 mg/day or a similar placebo tablet was orally administered for 12 weeks. CESD-10 depression scores, combined state plus trait anxiety scores, and heart rate decreased over time for the Bacopa group.

These findings suggest that B. monnieri could be an effective and safe treatment for reducing depressive symptoms and anxiety in healthy individuals.

Bacopa Monnieri Pros

  • Improves cognitive function
  • Reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Safe and well-tolerated

Bacopa Monnieri Cons

  • Can take several weeks to notice the effects

Bacopa Monnieri in Summary

Used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa Monnieri has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce social anxiety and depressive symptoms in the elderly. These effects may take several weeks to become noticeable, but it is considered safe and well-tolerated.

4. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid naturally occurring in tea leaves. It is commonly consumed in the form of tea and is also available as a dietary supplement.

L-Theanine has been shown to reduce anxiety, and stress and improve mood in various populations, including healthy adults, adolescents, and those with diagnosed anxiety disorders [5]Hidese, Shinsuke et al. “Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients vol. 11,10 2362. 3 … Learn more.

The mechanisms by which L-Theanine produces these effects are not fully understood but are thought to involve the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and the Excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate [6]Nathan, Pradeep J et al. “The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.” Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy vol. 6,2 (2006): … Learn more.

Some studies suggest that L-Theanine helps improve cognitive performance and protect against cognitive decline [7]Baba, Yoshitake et al. “Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 24,4 (2021): 333-341. … Learn more. Given its apparent safety and efficacy, L-Theanine may be a promising treatment for social anxiety.

L-Theanine Pros

  • A natural compound found in tea leaves
  • Shown to reduce stress, anxiety and improve mood
  • Has cognitive benefits

L-Theanine Cons

  • Can cause drowsiness in high dosages

L-Theanine in Summary

Commonly found in green and black tea, L-Theanine has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and improve mood in various populations. It's well-tolerated and has cognitive benefits as well. However, high dosages can cause drowsiness.

5. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal supplement traditionally used to help with physical and mental fatigue. It is effective in treating social anxiety.

Studies have shown that Rhodiola can help reduce social anxiety symptoms, including fear, self-consciousness, and avoidance of social situations [8]Bystritsky, Alexander et al. “A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 14,2 … Learn more. It is thought to work by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain.

These chemicals play an important role in regulating mood and emotions. By increasing their levels, Rhodiola can help to improve mood and reduce anxiety.

In addition, Rhodiola has also been shown to reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality [9]Ha, Zhende et al. Zhonghua jie he he hu xi za zhi = Zhonghua jiehe he huxi zazhi = Chinese journal of tuberculosis and respiratory diseases vol. 25,9 (2002): 527-30..

This can be especially beneficial for people suffering from social anxiety, who often experience difficulty sleeping and high-stress levels.

Overall, Rhodiola is a safe and effective treatment for social anxiety that can help to improve mood, reduce stress, and improve sleep.

Rhodiola Rosea Pros

  • Traditionally used as a treatment for physical and mental fatigue
  • Shown to reduce social anxiety symptoms, including fear and self-consciousness
  • Improves mood, reduces stress, and improves sleep

Rhodiola Rosea Cons

  • Can take weeks to see the effects

Rhodiola Rosea in Summary

Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal supplement traditionally used to treat physical and mental fatigue. It has been shown to reduce social anxiety symptoms, improve mood, and improve sleep. However, the effects may take several weeks to be noticed.

6. F-Phenibut

F-Phenibut is a synthetic analog of the naturally occurring inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. It was originally developed in Russia and has since been used to treat various conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

F-Phenibut acts on the GABA receptors in the brain, which results in a calming effect. It also increases levels of dopamine, which helps to improve mood.

For people with social anxiety, F-Phenibut can help to reduce fear and inhibition. The big difference between F-Phenibut and Phenibut is that F-Phenibut has a quicker onset of action, making it more suitable for immediate relief from social anxiety symptoms.

However, it is important to note that F-Phenibut can be addictive and should be used cautiously.

F-Phenibut Pros

  • Faster onset of action than Phenibut
  • Helps to reduce fear and inhibition
  • Improves mood by increasing dopamine levels

F-Phenibut Cons

  • Can be addictive

F-Phenibut in Summary

F-Phenibut is a more potent synthetic version of the naturally occurring neurotransmitter GABA. It can quickly reduce fear and inhibition in people with social anxiety, but it can also be addictive and should be used cautiously.

7. 5-HTP

5-HTP is a compound that naturally occurs in the body. It is derived from tryptophan, an essential amino acid. 5-HTP is responsible for producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and anxiety.

Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and anxiety. Researchers believe that by increasing serotonin levels, 5-HTP may help improve social anxiety symptoms.

Several studies have shown that 5-HTP is effective in treating social anxiety disorder [10]Kahn, R S, and H G Westenberg. “L-5-hydroxytryptophan in the treatment of anxiety disorders.” Journal of affective disorders vol. 8,2 (1985): 197-200. doi:10.1016/0165-0327(85)90046-1.

5-HTP Pros

  • Raises serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and reduced anxiety
  • Shown to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder
  • Naturally occurring compound 5-HTP

5-HTP Cons

  • Interacts with SSRIs

5-HTP in Summary

5-HTP is a naturally occurring compound that helps to increase serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It is effective in treating social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, it should be used cautiously as it can interact with SSRI medications.

8. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Modern research has shown that it can positively affect stress and anxiety [11]Speers, Alex B et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.” Current neuropharmacology vol. … Learn more.

Ashwagandha works by reducing cortisol levels, a hormone that is released in response to stress. In one study, daily supplementation with ashwagandha for 8 weeks significantly reduced symptoms of social anxiety [12]Salve, Jaysing et al. “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study.” Cureus vol. 11,12 e6466. … Learn more.

Ashwagandha Pros

  • Reduces cortisol levels
  • Shown to improve symptoms of social anxiety
  • Long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine

Ashwagandha Cons

  • Can take up to 8 weeks to see the full effects

Ashwagandha in Summary

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. It can reduce cortisol levels and improve symptoms of social anxiety, but it may take 8 weeks to see the full effects.

What Are the Best Nootropics for Social Anxiety?

The best nootropics for social anxiety are:

  1. Mind Lab Pro
  2. Phenibut
  3. Bacopa Monnieri
  4. L-Theanine
  5. Rhodiola Rosea
  6. F-Phenibut
  7. 5-HTP
  8. Ashwagandha

These nootropics have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve social interaction. The list contains a blend of synthetic compounds, naturally occurring neurochemicals, and adaptogenic herbs.

As with any supplement, it is important to use caution and speak with a medical professional before starting a nootropic regimen. Individual results may vary.

How to Choose the Right Nootropic Supplement for Social Anxiety?

The best way to choose the right nootropic supplement is to speak with a qualified healthcare professional, like a doctor or licensed nutritionist.

They can assess your individual needs and make recommendations based on your specific symptoms and medical history.

It is also important to research the individual ingredients of any supplement before taking it. Make sure to familiarize yourself with potential side effects and drug interactions.

It's also important to remember that nootropics work best in combination with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, managing stress, and getting enough sleep.

Nootropics should not be relied upon as the sole method of treating social anxiety.

What Are the Benefits of Nootropics for Social Anxiety?

The benefits of nootropics for social anxiety include:

  • Improved mood and decreased anxiety
  • Enhanced focus and concentration
  • Improved social interactions
  • Increased feelings of calmness and relaxation

When you take nootropics for social anxiety, it can help to improve your overall well-being and overall quality of life. I highly recommend looking at nootropic blends that contain a combination of ingredients to get the best results.

That way, you not only address symptoms of social anxiety but also improve cognitive function and overall brain health.

What Are the Side Effects of Nootropics for Social Anxiety?

The side effects of nootropics for social anxiety can vary depending on the specific ingredients and individual sensitivity.

Common nootropic side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Digestive issues
  • Drowsiness

It's worth noting that there is a big difference between synthetic nootropics and natural nootropics, with synthetic nootropics potentially having more severe side effects.

Do Nootropics Really Work for Social Anxiety?

anxiety-and-stress-nootropics

Yes, nootropics can work for social anxiety. Nootropics can reduce anxiety and improve social interactions depending on the specific ingredients and individual responses.

The most potent nootropic for social anxiety is Phenibut which has shown significant effectiveness in reducing anxiety and improving social interaction in clinical studies. However, it is important to use caution with Phenibut as it can be habit-forming and has the potential for abuse.

If you're looking for a more natural option, I recommend L-Theanine, which stacks well with other nootropics like Caffeine and has been shown to improve social anxiety in clinical studies.

Overall, nootropics can be a valuable tool in managing symptoms of social anxiety, but they should not be used as the sole treatment method.

Final Thoughts

So what do we know about using nootropics for social anxiety?

Nootropics can be a helpful supplement in reducing anxiety and improving social interaction. Each nootropic on my list offers unique benefits and has been backed by research.

My recommendation is to go with a blend like Mind Lab Pro, where you get a combination of natural nootropics for maximum effectiveness.

References

References
1“Social Anxiety Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.
2Nagano, Mayumi et al. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan) vol. 31,4 (2010): 231-7. doi:10.2220/biomedres.31.231
3Kupats, Einars et al. “Safety and Tolerability of the Anxiolytic and Nootropic Drug Phenibut: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials and Case Reports.” Pharmacopsychiatry vol. 53,5 (2020): 201-208. doi:10.1055/a-1151-5017
4Calabrese, Carlo et al. “Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 14,6 (2008): 707-13. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0018
5Hidese, Shinsuke et al. “Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients vol. 11,10 2362. 3 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11102362
6Nathan, Pradeep J et al. “The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.” Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy vol. 6,2 (2006): 21-30.
7Baba, Yoshitake et al. “Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 24,4 (2021): 333-341. doi:10.1089/jmf.2020.4803
8Bystritsky, Alexander et al. “A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 14,2 (2008): 175-80. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.7117
9Ha, Zhende et al. Zhonghua jie he he hu xi za zhi = Zhonghua jiehe he huxi zazhi = Chinese journal of tuberculosis and respiratory diseases vol. 25,9 (2002): 527-30.
10Kahn, R S, and H G Westenberg. “L-5-hydroxytryptophan in the treatment of anxiety disorders.” Journal of affective disorders vol. 8,2 (1985): 197-200. doi:10.1016/0165-0327(85)90046-1
11Speers, Alex B et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 19,9 (2021): 1468-1495. doi:10.2174/1570159X19666210712151556
12Salve, Jaysing et al. “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study.” Cureus vol. 11,12 e6466. 25 Dec. 2019, doi:10.7759/cureus.6466