"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

What is the difference between shyness and social anxiety?

The terms “shyness” and “social anxiety” are sometimes used interchangeably because they each seek advice from feelings of tension in social situations.

However, feeling shy, or having a shy personality, shouldn't be the identical as experiencing social anxiety (“social anxiety disorder” for brief).

Here are some similarities and differences, and what the excellence means.

How are they similar?

It's normal to feel nervous and even nervous in recent social situations or when interacting with recent people. And everyone seems to be different in how comfortable they feel when interacting with others.

For people who find themselves shy or socially anxious, social situations could be very uncomfortable, stressful and even threatening. There could also be a robust desire to avoid these situations.

People who're shy or socially anxious may “flight” (by withdrawing from a situation or avoiding it altogether), “freeze” (by feeling isolated or disconnected from their body), or May respond with “phone” (attempting to appease). comfort others).

A fancy interplay of biological and environmental aspects also influences the event of shyness and social anxiety.

For example, each Shy kids And Adults with social anxiety They have neural circuits that respond strongly to stressful social situations, akin to being excluded or abandoned.

People who're shy or socially anxious often report physical signs of stress in certain situations, and even anticipate them. These include sweating, blushing, trembling, increased heart rate or hyperventilation.

How are they different?

Social anxiety is a diagnosable mental health condition and is an example of an anxiety disorder.

For individuals who struggle with social anxiety, social situations – including social interactions, being observed and performing in front of others – create intense fears or anxieties about being judged, criticized or rejected.

To be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, social anxiety must be persistent (for greater than six months) and have a major negative impact on vital life areas akin to work, school, relationships, and identity or sense of self. .

Many adults with social anxiety felt shy, timid, and lacked confidence once they were children. However, not all shy children develop social anxiety. Also, feeling shy doesn't necessarily mean that an individual meets the factors for social anxiety disorder.

People vary in how shy or outgoing they're, depending on where they're, who they're with and the way comfortable they feel within the situation. This is particularly true for youngsters, who sometimes seem reserved and shy around strangers and peers, and exit with known and trusted adults.

Individual differences in temperament, personality traits, early childhood experiences, family upbringing and environment, and parenting style can even influence the extent to which individuals feel shy in social situations.

A shy child hiding behind a tree
Not all shy children develop social anxiety.
249 Anorak/Shutterstock

However, individuals with social anxiety have an intense fear of embarrassing themselves or being judged negatively by others. They experience these fears consistently and in a wide range of social situations.

The intensity of this fear or anxiety often leads people to avoid situations. If avoiding a situation shouldn't be possible, they could engage in protective behaviors, akin to their phone, wearing glasses or rehearsing conversation topics.

Social anxiety can have a far-reaching impact on an individual's life. This can include low self-esteem, the breakdown of friendships or romantic relationships, difficulties moving and advancing in a profession, and dropping out of faculty.

Its impact on an individual's ability to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, and the distress it causes, distinguish social anxiety from shyness.

Children may show similar signs or symptoms of social anxiety to adults. But they could develop into upset and tearful, irritable, susceptible to anger, cling to their parents, and even refuse to talk in certain situations.

If left untreated, social anxiety can set children and youth up for a way forward for missed opportunities, so early intervention is vital. With skilled and parental support, patience and guidance, children could be taught strategies to beat social anxiety.

Why is differentiation vital?

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition. remains intact For those that don't receive adequate support or treatment.

Without treatment, it will possibly result in Difficulties in education and work, and in constructing meaningful relationships.

Getting a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder could be valid for some people since it recognizes the extent of distress and its impact is more severe than shyness.

Diagnosis will also be a very important first step in accessing appropriate, evidence-based treatment.

Different people have different support needs. nevertheless, Clinical practice guidelines Recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (a form of psychotherapy that teaches people practical coping skills). It is commonly used along with exposure therapy (a form of psychotherapy that helps people face their fears by breaking them down right into a series of step-by-step activities). This combination is personally effective, online and I Short treatment.

Man working at home with laptop open on lap
Treatment is out there online in addition to in person.
ImYanis / Shutterstock

For more help or further reading

Online resources about social anxiety include: