The Differences Between Shyness and Social Anxiety And When To Seek Counseling

Introverted Woman Looking Outside

The Differences Between Shyness and Social Anxiety And When To Seek Counseling

There are many characteristics shared by shyness and social anxiety. If you’ve gone through your whole life telling others that you are shy, you may have been overlooking a potentially more serious condition. Or maybe you have a child that demonstrates behavior often identified as being shy. There’s a possibility that it goes beyond mere shyness and may be the symptoms of a disorder known as social anxiety.

Identifying Social Anxiety Over Shyness

Our social skills develop during childhood to a significant degree. This period is the time we prepare for the challenges that lay ahead in adulthood and adolescence. Children who live with SAD frequently are unable to develop these behaviors and often become used to living with social fears. Avoidance frequently becomes a tool they use throughout their lives. This can have devastating impacts on career success, education, personal relationships, and financial independence.

It’s unfortunate that so many people don’t receive the help they need or identify that they’re experiencing symptoms of a disorder. The condition is entirely treatable, with nearly 70% of those afflicted with it experiencing significant progress with cognitive therapy.

What sets Shyness Apart From Social Anxiety

More often than not, SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) is dismissed as an extreme form of shyness. This leads to many sufferers not knowing they were even experiencing a psychiatric condition. Symptoms typically appear during childhood, and only 50% of adults with SAD receive the necessary treatment. Those that do often start nearly 15 years after the onset of the symptoms.

Signs that it may be SAD include:

  • Significant impairment of day-to-day functioning
  • Fear is intense and often crippling
  • Avoidance techniques are prominent and frequent

Those with SAD don’t just experience nervousness prior to giving a speech. They often spend weeks or months stressing about the speech, find themselves unable to sleep, and have symptoms such as a pounding heart. These symptoms may be accompanied by shortness of breath, shaking, and sweating.

These symptoms do not subside in most cases. Instead, they intensify as the feared moment approaches. Even when they’re aware their fears are unfounded or overblown, they still find them impossible to control.

You can receive an in-depth interview with your mental health care professional to determine if your symptoms match a SAD diagnosis. You may be scheduled to complete a screening measure to discover if there’s a need for further evaluation.

Get Help With Social Anxiety Disorder Today

Reach out to your mental health professional to schedule an evaluation to determine if a screening is necessary. Social Anxiety Disorder is a serious concern faced by many people throughout the United States. In most cases, this condition is undiagnosed as it is mistaken for shyness. With a nearly 70% success rate with cognitive therapy, there’s no reason not to reach out to get help today. You may discover that a future with less fear, less anxiety, and more opportunities lay ahead. It could be the most wonderful thing you ever do for yourself, so call your mental health care provider today!

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April is the founder of Prestige Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) who is qualified to practice primary care and psychiatry. She is passionate about providing quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. April specializes in psychiatric illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD/trauma, bipolar, and schizophrenia.