A Thin Line Between Social Anxiety Disorder and Shyness + Free Worksheet

Despite the fact that many people confuse the phrases, shyness and social anxiety are two separate things. It is typical to feel awkward in social settings, which is known as shyness. Even though someone is hesitant, they may frequently find the motivation to perform when necessary. However, social anxiety is a type of anxiety illness that can degrade a person’s quality of life.

What Does Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) Look & Feel Like?

People who have social anxiety feel uneasy and self-conscious when they are in social situations. They worry about being rejected and subject to unfair criticism. As a result, individuals may avoid particular situations or experience severe anxiety when they do.

The term “social anxiety” refers to a collection of mental and emotional symptoms that might be anything from barely unpleasant to completely incapacitating. Some people deal with this anxiousness constantly in social settings. Others may only experience it sometimes in social situations like going on dates, speaking in front of groups, or meeting new people. This fear may prohibit some individuals from heading to work, school, or doing daily duties. Some people may be able to perform identical acts, but they do them with significant anxiety or worry.

People with social anxiety may worry about social situations for days before they occur and they may end up avoiding places or activities that cause them pain or embarrassment. Some people with the condition may suffer anxiety during performances rather than social interactions. They experience nervousness when giving a speech, competing in a sporting event, or playing a piece of music on stage.

Read more about social anxiety disorder and coping strategies here!

Common Triggers That May Give Rise to Anxiety in Individuals Dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder

People who suffer from social anxiety frequently experience severe anxiety and suffering in the following situations:

  • Eating in front of others
  • Being the center of attention when speaking in public
  • conversing with strangers
  • Having dates
  • Getting to know new people
  • Looking for another job?
  • Leaving for work or school
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Making public phone calls
  • Making use of public washrooms

Characteristics of Social Anxiety

Common characteristics of social anxiety include:

  • Persistent anxiety about humiliating oneself in public
  • Keeping away from situations when you fear being judged
  • You worry that people may pick up on your stress.
  • Preventing yourself from being the center of attention in public places
  • Anticipating failure or humiliation in social situations
  • Excessive performance evaluation following a social encounter

Watch our video to understand why you are anxious

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

People dealing with social anxiety may face physical as well as psychological symptoms which are as follows:

Physical symptoms:  

  • Blushing 
  • Nausea 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Difficulty speaking 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Rapid heart rate

Psychological symptoms:

  • Worrying intensely about social situations 
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event 
  • Avoiding social situations or trying to blend into the background 
  • Worrying about embarrassing yourself in a social situation 
  • Worrying that other people will notice that you are stressed or nervous 
  • Needing alcohol to face a social situation 
  • Missing school or work because of anxiety

Your thoughts too have a major role when dealing with social anxiety disorder. Watch our video to understand why you suffer from your thoughts.

Know more about social anxiety disorder by enrolling in our course today: Anxiety Counseling – Social Anxiety Disorder ACThttps://bit.ly/Anxiety-Counselor

Don’t forget to watch this super informative video on how to treat anxiety!

What does Shyness Look & Feel Like?

Shyness is the propensity to feel uncomfortable, anxious, or tense in social situations, especially when around strangers. Shyness isn’t always a bad thing, but some of its traits, including passivity and minimal eye contact, might be misinterpreted for uncertainty, anxiety, or despair. Even while some people are more naturally timid, it’s very common to feel uneasy in unfamiliar circumstances. The characteristic frequently appears in early life; some people outgrow it, while others find that their shyness lessens as they become more at ease in particular social settings.

What Causes Shyness?

Shyness is the propensity to feel uncomfortable, anxious, or tense in social situations, especially when around strangers. Shyness isn’t always a bad thing, but some of its traits, including passivity and minimal eye contact, might be misinterpreted for uncertainty, anxiety, or despair. Even while some people are more naturally timid, it’s very common to feel uneasy in unfamiliar circumstances. The characteristic frequently appears in early life; some people outgrow it, while others find that their shyness lessens as they become more at ease in particular social settings.

Characteristics of Shyness

Common characteristics of shyness include:

  • Being silent and submissive in public
  • Minimizing or avoiding eye contact
  • Preventing awkward social encounters
  • Exhibiting anxious habits like scratching your face or fidgeting with your hair
  • Feeling as though you don’t fit in or belong with others
  • Feeling self-conscious or angry with yourself for being reserved
  • Having the drive to excel in social situations
  • The excessive practice of your behavior or your intended words to others
  • Being wary of experimenting with new things

Symptoms of Shyness

Symptoms of shyness include:

  • Blushing
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

There is an overlap between the symptoms of shyness and social anxiety but these symptoms in the case of shyness have very light intensity and frequency.

What Are the Main Differences Between Being Shy vs Social Anxiety?

Unfortunately, severe shyness is sometimes mistaken for social anxiety disorder. Because they are unaware that they have a recognized mental disorder, many people don’t seek care. According to statistics, only around 50% of people with the disease obtain therapy and those who do wait a long time before seeking it. This is despite the fact that symptoms typically begin in early childhood.

Social anxiety and shyness share a lot of similarities, but shyness is a natural personality feature that doesn’t need to be treated. A mental health disorder called social anxiety may get worse with time. Even while they may appear outgoing and confident, someone with social anxiety may really be exceedingly uncomfortable in social settings. It’s possible that others won’t even be able to sense their uneasiness.

Even though it frequently appears to be situational, shyness is more noticeable. In other words, shyness often manifests itself at particular moments. In unfamiliar circumstances, a person is more prone to feel timid, but as they become used to the environment or the individuals, they start to feel more at ease. Social anxiety is another form of situational anxiety, although this concern frequently lingers before, during, and after the event.

Key Variations between Social Anxiety Disorder and Shyness:

Generally speaking, the primary signs that separate shyness from SAD are:

  • The reduction in functionality that it causes in a person’s life
  • How intensely one is afraid
  • How much avoidance there is

People with social anxiety disorder don’t only become a little apprehensive before speaking. For weeks or months before the speech, they can fret about it, lose sleep from concern, and have severe anxiety symptoms such as trembling, sweating, and shortness of breath.

Typically, as the condition worsens, the symptoms do not go away. Usually, the SAD sufferer is aware that their anxieties are baseless, yet they are nevertheless powerless over them.

Examples of the Difference Between Shyness and Social Anxiety

Depending on the person’s age and state of mental health, social anxiety and shyness symptoms might manifest differently, but understanding how they behave can assist you or a loved one.

Examples of Social Anxiety

  1. Doubt and uncertainty: Even if you felt they performed really well, a person may constantly seek approval and reassurance from others or beat themselves up after a performance.
  2. Uneasy social situations: Uncomfortable social situations include talking too rapidly or too slowly, for instance. Due to their anxiety, individuals may interrupt others or provide very simple, one-word replies.
  3. Physical signs showing up: You could see someone having a panic attack or getting very red when speaking.

Examples of Shyness

  1. Camouflaging in the background: For example, a student in school could refrain from speaking up or mingling with other kids on the playground in order to blend in. They may spend most of their time alone, either reading or hanging out with only one friend.
  2. Avoidance in adults: A timid adult may avoid eye contact at work. They could avoid performing in public and restrict their social connections. They often choose to spend time with close friends or relatives.
  3. Situational: It’s not unusual for parents to wonder why their outgoing, vivacious child acts so quietly in a classroom setting. Similar to how a shy individual could be outgoing and chatty at a party, but only if they are familiar with the other guests.

Can Shyness Turn into Social Anxiety Disorder?

When someone avoids, worries about, or overthinks social situations on a regular basis, shyness can develop into social anxiety. Someone who feels self-conscious about being shy may start to believe they are unable or inadequate. These cognitive processes have the potential to cause anxiety symptoms over time.

Determining if your symptoms are caused by shyness or social anxiety disorder is also crucial.

5 Signs to watch out for to understand that your shyness might actually be social anxiety

  • You Have An Overall Fear Of Social Situations

Being nervous in certain social situations such as starting a new job, or giving a speech is pretty standard. However, if you experience “a broad, pervasive fear of being in a social setting,” that’s a good indication you may have a social anxiety disorder.

  • You’re Scared In Anticipation Of A Social Event

Shy people may avoid large crowds and social gatherings because it makes them feel drained (or simply because they just don’t feel like going) but worrying extensively to the point that you’re fearful about a social situation beforehand means you could have an underlying social anxiety disorder.

  • You Avoid Social Events Altogether

Avoiding social situations, crowds, gatherings, and public spaces altogether is a clear-cut sign you have a social anxiety disorder. Opting for alone time on a regular basis is totally healthy, but if you find you’re constantly skipping social events because of anxiety, talking to a therapist could help you figure out the root of your fear.

  • You’re Overly Anxious About Being Embarrassed

It’s fair to say no one likes to embarrass themselves in front of a crowd or receive critical feedback, but reacting to fear of scrutiny by drawing back from them with apparent anxiety and distress is a symptom of social anxiety disorder. It can be difficult to differentiate, but the intensity of your anxiety and distress may give you a clue as to whether you may need extra support from a mental health professional.

  • Your Anxiety Seems Unwarranted

When the fears or doubts that come from interacting with others are irrational and unwarranted and have little objective proof of actually occurring, it is a clear sign of a social anxiety disorder. This could also mean believing something negative will happen in every social situation, even if you’ve had positive experiences before.

Read about some quick tips to overcome social anxiety here!

Living with social anxiety disorder and shyness

Living with shyness or social anxiety may be stressful and demoralising. You are not alone in how you are feeling, so rest easy. There are many self help strategies that can help you overcome social anxiety.

Click here to read about self help strategies to overcome social anxiety!

Additionally, getting the correct assistance and therapy might help you feel more confident and talking to a dependable family member or qualified expert may significantly alter how you view yourself and your social interactions.

Enroll in our Accredited CBT Therapy for Anxiety Online Course

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