Shyness And Social Anxiety – How Is It Different?

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What is it And Are They The Same Thing?

There have been debates on whether Social Anxiety Disorder is just another term for shyness. However, many in psychology have already stipulated that Shyness is not Social Anxiety Disorder. On the other hand, the lines between what characterizes shyness and social anxiety disorder is still blurred, causing confusion and raising questions among people on whether they are shy or already suffering from a mental disorder.

Shyness And Social Anxiety Much Different!

Social Anxiety Disorder is an anxiety disorder wherein a person feels excessive anxiety towards social situations. This anxiety or extreme nervousness comes from the fear of being scrutinized and judged by other people and is different from just general shyness.  People with Social Anxiety have a different way of thinking about social situations and about other people, and if untreated, Social Anxiety Disorder can greatly cripple a person’s day-to-day life and relationships with other people.

There are two kinds of social anxiety disorder or social phobia, general and specific. General social phobia is characterized by excessive self-consciousness to the point of refraining to go to public places, difficulty asserting oneself to other and a dislike for being introduced to new people. Specific social phobia affects people who are usually the center of attention, like performers or executives in a company.

They experience specific social phobia when they have to be in front or a large crowd to speak or to perform. Their anxiety can be seen in the way that they stutter or show nervousness in front of the public eye. Social Anxiety Disorder can be spotted when a person is extremely worried about being embarrassed in front of other people. They can worry about a particular social situation days, weeks or even month before, already thinking about the embarrassing things that could happen. The anxiety felt by a person with social anxiety disorder is so great that an extreme dislike for social situations is developed and avoids them altogether. Social Anxiety Disorder could be connected with other disorders, specifically Agoraphobia and Depression.

Social Anxiety can be treated through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), where a person with social phobia is helped to rationalize their fears and thoughts so that they could avoid feeling anxiety. CBT teaches people to react to social situations or to the things that trigger their anxiety through systematic desensitization or exposure to situations that are feared. Medication can also be given to those with social anxiety disorder, including antidepressants, tranquilizers and beta-blockers which is used for heart conditions to lessen the physical manifestations of anxiety such as heart palpitations and shaking. Lastly, counseling for self-esteem and social skills and relaxation techniques could also be used to help a person handle their social anxiety.

There are major differences between Shyness and Social Anxiety, and they although may from the outside seem similar, are completely different.