Do I Have Social Anxiety Or Am I Just Shy
Life can be difficult for people who find it awkward to be in social situations. For some, shyness is a problem that keeps them from socialising as often or as thoroughly as they should. For others, social anxiety is severe enough to lead to isolation.
If you find yourself uncomfortable in social situations, the first thing for you to know is that shyness and social anxiety are not one and the same. They are different experiences with drastically different outcomes. This post will explain those differences and, hopefully, provide some direction for your life. Please note that both shyness and social anxiety can be overcome.
Shyness is quite common
We will start with shyness given that it is the milder of the two experiences. Shyness is an emotional response that is actually quite common. It produces feelings of nervousness, awkwardness, and even anxiousness. What makes shyness different from social anxiety is that it is only temporary.
People who are shy tend to be less shy as they become more familiar with their situations. For example, you might experience feelings of shyness when you first arrive at a party populated by strangers. Those feelings may cause you to be very guarded and reserved. But as the night wears on and you become more comfortable, those feelings begin to subside. By the end of the night you are more than capable of talking to complete strangers. You might even make new friends.
Social anxiety is quite different. A person suffering from this disorder doesn't so easily shed those negative feelings – even as surroundings become more familiar. In the most severe cases, sufferers are never able to get comfortable in their surroundings.
Social anxiety is a phobia
According to both the NHS and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, social anxiety is also known as social phobia. What's in the name? A lot. Designating social anxiety as a phobia underscores the reality that it is rooted in fear. Shyness is also rooted in fear, but shyness is temporary. The difference between a minor fear and a phobia is that a phobia prevents the sufferer from doing what he or she wants to do.
Social anxiety is a phobia that prevents people from being socially engaged. The fear is so strong that they cannot bring themselves to engage at all with complete strangers. Some even hesitate to engage socially with people they know.
If you are concerned you might suffer from social anxiety rather than mere shyness, ask yourself the following questions below.
These questions as strong indicators of social anxiety. If you answered 'yes' to even a few of them, you may be socially anxious. But again, social anxiety can be overcome with the right kind of help.
Now you know the differences between shyness and social anxiety. If you think you might suffer from social anxiety, the NHS recommends you see your GP. Social anxiety is a common problem that can be treated. If your GP determines you are just shy, you can work on engaging with people with similar interests and getting out into more social situations.