Social anxiety affects millions. When you’re in a social setting, you have an extreme fear that doesn’t seem to go away. This disorder is treatable, but many people do not get the treatment they need.
With that said, social anxiety is not to be confused with someone who is just a little shy. This post will help you learn the difference.
Social anxiety disorder, or SAD, is an extreme fear of a social situation. For some people, it’s one particular situation, such as public speaking. For others, leaving their house is a chore.
Just talking to anyone will make you want to pull out your hair. With that said, it’s no different from shyness.
Shyness is the mild feeling of discomfort one has when presented with new people, new places, or new situations.
One of the most famous examples is the shy new kid in school.
With time, shyness may go away.
Shyness tends to be a natural response. We fear new people, places, and events. However, once we are used to these, we begin opening up. While some cultures see shyness as rude, others recognize that it is a part of the human experience, and they will be less hostile towards people who show a little bit of shyness.
The severity is the key difference.
Someone who is shy may feel a little uncomfortable around a new group of people, but with time, they may open up.
Meanwhile, a person with social anxiety may have a challenging time being used to new situations. Someone with SAD may go out of their way to avoid social situations that make them feel uncomfortable, and with time, the symptoms worsen. They may start as mild, but with time, will become more severe.
Shyness is also more biological, while SAD may have more of a basis in trauma.
Do I Have Social Anxiety?
If you are unsure if you have a social anxiety disorder, there are some questions you should ask yourself.
How Does This Affect Me?
When looking at a social situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself about its severity. Do you feel a slight discomfort, or does it put you into full-blown panic mode?
The severity of your reaction can help you to determine if you are someone who is shy or socially anxious.
How Much Do I Avoid It?
Also, ask yourself how far you will go to avoid a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Some people will go quite far to avoid a situation that makes them feel uneasy, while some will just handle it well. If you’re the latter, you may just be a little shy.
Am I Willing to Change?
Another thing you should ask is how willing are you to change your shyness or social anxiety.
People with severe social anxiety may be less willing to change themselves due to how severe their social anxiety is.
Meanwhile, someone with mild shyness may be more open to change.
Take a Test
If you’re still on the fence if you’re socially anxious or just a little shy, one thing you can do is take a test.
There are many online tests, but not all of them are accurate. With that said, Mind Diagnostics’ content is written by professionals. Their social anxiety test can help you determine just how severe your social anxiety is, and what you can do about it.
Social anxiety is a spectrum. You may be more than shy, but not severely anxious. Therapy, medication, and self-care may help you to reverse your social anxiety.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.