Does the keto diet help with social anxiety?

This post answers: Does the keto diet help with social anxiety? What is the rationale for the anxiolytic effects of keto diet? How does keto diet reduce social anxiety? What is social anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety? How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques? How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

Does the keto diet help with social anxiety?

Yes, keto diet can help with social anxiety of any sort, whether that is social anxiety, generalized social anxiety, or just normal day-to-day social anxiety. Ketogenic diet has been used for centuries as a therapeutic treatment for epilepsy.

In the current and last century, researchers have found out that ketogenic diet affects more than just epilepsy. It is useful in the treatment of many psychological disorders, of which social anxiety is on the top of the list. Generally speaking, keto diet is helpful in dealing with any mood disorder.

What is the rationale for the anxiolytic effects of keto diet?

Research indicates that ketogenic diet affects the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. These are the main neurotransmitters involved in social anxiety. So, keto diet has a direct impact on modulating social anxiety in this sense.

How does keto diet reduce social anxiety?

Keto diet can and does reduce your social anxiety in the following ways:

Increased Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF)

Keto diets contain and produce ketones that are an excellent source of energy. These diets usually contain a compound known as beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which is associated with a high level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

More BDNF means reduced social anxiety. When there is more BDNF in your body, it helps your body get and stay in a calm state, thereby reducing your social anxiety.

High-fat, low-carb

The Keto diet is low-carb and high-fat, which makes it an excellent source of energy. Keto diets help your body consume energy from fats and carbohydrates instead of sugar. Research suggests that keto diets decrease social anxiety by decreasing the consumption of sugar.

Weight loss

A Keto diet is associated with weight loss. People with high than normal weight are generally more vulnerable to social anxiety, and social anxiety affects them more than people with a normal weight. What the keto diet does is that it effectively reduces your weight. Reducing your weight indirectly reduces social anxiety.

Insulin resistance

Keto diets are low on carbohydrates, which means that they do not cause insulin resistance. Diets that contain carbohydrates cause high levels of insulin resistance, which puts one at the risk of developing obesity, and elevates social anxiety levels as well. Keto diets do not have this problem. In fact, keto diets are shown to have a reverse effect on insulin resistance.

Anti-oxidative stress

Non-keto food may lead to oxidative stress. Foods such as sugar, and fried food, are known to cause inflammation in brain cells and thereby cause social anxiety. The Keto diet doesn’t have this problem. In fact, the keto diet relieves symptoms of social anxiety by reducing oxidative stress.

Reverses the negative effects of cortisol

Keto diets reverse the negative effects of cortisol on your body, which is released when you are in a state of stress. When you are anxious and stressed your body releases cortisol. A Keto diet saves you from an increase of cortisol in your body.



Keto diet affects the levels of dopamine in the nigrostriatal, mesolimbic, and mesocortical pathways of the dopaminergic systems and thereby reduces social anxiety. More dopamine in your body gives you the amazing feeling of happiness, which is exactly what people with social anxiety are yearning for.


A Keto diet increases the level of serotonin in our bodies, which leads to a reduction in social anxiety. By doing so, the keto diet not only shields you against social anxiety, it shields you against depression as well. This is good because social anxiety and depression often go hand in hand.


Keto diet also has an enhancing role on GABA, which also leads to a reduction in the levels of social anxiety. GABA helps you respond to stress in a way that you are able to control it. It also shields you against depression alongside social anxiety.

What is social anxiety?

Individuals experiencing social anxiety might feel uncomfortable being in social situations to an extent that it hampers their daily functioning, it’s sometimes referred to as a social phobia.

Individuals consider public spaces as potential spaces of humiliation and embarrassment. Social anxiety affects how a person Interact with the world around them.

Social anxiety can be differentiated from shyness. In that shyness does not affect an individual’s daily life and functioning, moreover shyness is short-lived.

On the other hand, social anxiety is persistent and negatively impacts various aspects of an individual’s life like their ability to work productively or even develop or maintain close bonds with people outside their family.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety?

The symptoms of social anxiety can be both physical and psychological.

The most significant physical symptoms of social anxiety are:

  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Lightheadedness or feeling dizzy
  • Increased heart rate

The psychological symptoms that individual experiences during a social anxiety attack are:

  • Excessive and intensive worry about the social situation
  • Worrying days or even weeks ahead of an important social event
  • Trying to camouflage themselves in the background or the need to avoid the social situation on a whole
  • The need for intoxication to face a social situation
  • The constant worry of being observed by others 

In addition to these individuals with social anxiety may avoid social interactions such as asking another person a question when in doubt, potential job interviews, shopping, using public services like transport or washrooms, carrying out activities in public such as speaking or even eating in that matter.


How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques?

Lifestyle changes

Apart from therapy and medication what works best to manage social anxiety is certain lifestyle changes. These may include:

  •  Regular exercises
  •  Having a balanced diet,
  •  Socializing and talking to people about their anxiety,
  •  Journal writing to express and understand one’s feelings and
  • Avoiding alcohol or drugs.

Take control of your breathing

It is normal for anxiety to bring about changes in your body, for instance, increased breathing. these changes often make an individual feel uncomfortable.

One can take control of this discomfort by carrying out a few simple steps such as holding one’s breath for two seconds and slowly letting it out through their mouth.

Repeating this step several times until one feels relaxed. This is most effective when one sits down in a comfortable position with their back straight.


Carry out progressive muscle relaxation

Research indicates that certain activities such as walking, or jogging can help in killing anxiety. Another effective technique to kill anxiety is progressive muscle relaxation.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves flexing and releasing a group of muscles in one’s body which helps to maintain their attention on the feelings of this contraction and relaxation.

Prepare ahead of situations

It is best advised that people who experience social anxiety must plan ahead of these situations that make them nervous to increase their confidence.

Start small

to kill social anxiety people must start small. In that individuals must avoid big social situations and start with the situation that they are compatible with.

For instance, one can start by going for lunch with friends and family members rather than with a set of individuals that whom they’re not familiar or confident with.

Push back negative thoughts

One very effective way to kill social anxiety is to focus and work on one’s negative thoughts actively.

Think about the negative thoughts that one has about a particular situation and write them down. Following this the person is required to write down positive thoughts that challenge the negative ones.

Sensory awareness

One’s senses can help them calm down while they feel anxious in any situation. For some people trying to look at photographs that give them a sense of happiness or using a particular scent that can help to distract them from the negative thoughts and reconnect with more positive ones can help to kill the anxiety at the moment.

How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

Like other physical conditions, even social anxiety has different approaches for its management and treatment. Some people might only need a single type of treatment while others might require a combination of approaches.

Some of the ways to manage or treat social anxiety disorders are:

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular situation that they usually fear in a graded manner.

It usually starts with exposing the individual to a situation that is least triggering when the individual gets comfortable with this situation introduced or exposed to them with each session individuals become comfortable with a real-life situation that is otherwise anxiety-provoking.

Group therapy

As the name suggests group therapy usually involves two or more individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same condition or fears they might not feel left alone or isolated.

This kind of therapy also helps in developing and maintaining social skills or techniques to interact with people in other social settings.

 Prescribed medication

Social anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health professional. There are different types of anxiety medications each with its benefits and side effects.

Online therapy 

Individuals with social anxiety can also seek therapy online. This would involve interacting with the therapist one-on-one over an audio or video call. 

Some individuals with social anxiety might be more comfortable seeking help through this mode than others while in a different case some might prefer face-to-face therapy sessions. 


Social anxiety and depression are highly linked with the kind of food you consume. Consuming the wrong type amount of food may induce social anxiety and depression as well as worsen them. Keto diets are found to be very effective in treating social anxiety and depression.

They have a direct impact on the neurotransmitters involved in social anxiety. They are also good for treating weight gain, which is often seen as a side effect of social anxiety. Keto diets also do not cause oxidative stress that other foods do.

So, if you are someone with social anxiety, you ­should consider the possibility of changing your diet to a one hundred percent keto diet. The neurotransmitter changes that you receive from psychotropic medications could be achieved from keto diet as well.

Frequently asked questions: Does the keto diet help with social anxiety?

What are some good sources of keto?

Some good sources of keto include celery, spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Can the keto diet cause weight gain?

No, on the contrary, the keto diet actually helps you lose weight much more rapidly than other diets.

Does the keto diet help with diabetes?

Yes, it helps the body control the levels of glucose. 


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