According to data from the World Mental Health Survey Initiative, most late teens and early twenties ladies suffer from social anxiety disorder(SAD) that is confused as shyness.
People compare shyness or introversion with a social anxiety disorder as they have a few similar characteristics. However, social anxiety disorder makes you severely anxious whenever you’re in a social event.
There are several scientific definitions of social anxiety disorder. But, those have nothing to do with the real signs and symptoms. For understanding social anxiety vs shyness, you must need to be aware of your activity in front of people.
To avoid confusion and any future consequences, you must understand these seven signs of social anxiety. So, let’s dig deeper!
Social anxiety vs shyness
Now before knowing the signs of being anxious at social events, we must understand the difference between social anxiety and shyness.
Shyness is a personality trait of a person that may present in everyone. Or you can say some kids are just shy. But, they feel normal when they grow up.
But if you’re feeling hesitant to meet new people or even the people you already know, that means your shyness turned into a social anxiety disorder.
According to the research on the relationship between shyness and social anxiety disorder, shyness and SAD differ only by the extent of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms.
Shyness is normal when people attend a party where you don’t know anyone or when you have to speak in front of a mass of people. But it’s problematic when you avoid such events due to extreme symptoms. And that’s where SAD rises in.
7 signs that you’re suffering through a social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder, often called social phobia, has very similar symptoms to shyness or introversion. But, when people in their early twenties started showing these signs, you can easily guess them as Socially distressed or sufferers. Now let’s know these signs of social anxiety disorder:
You have difficulty in mixing up with people
Based on a report published in a journal of abnormal psychology, people with social anxiety disorder think their friendship quality is worse than the person ever made. However, their partners don’t think in the same way.
So, the people who feel severe anxiety to meet people often can’t start a simple conversation.
These people depend on the conversation starters to make connections. They have a fear of not knowing what to say or how to behave.
These folks feel awkward and even behave awkwardly and think of embarrassment due to some mistakes.
Further, some of the teens who faced social anxiety disorder often claim that they have difficulty communicating even with their old friends.
And somewhat it’s a chance that these people take the help of social media and the internet for making friends or to avoid “being alone”.
You became distressed long before taking part in a social event
Feeling excited or nervous before an interview, public speaking, or asking someone for data is normally awkward.
But when the social event is quite simple, still you feel distressed and anxious rather than shy.
For example, people with SAD afraid to go to a public toilet, shopping, or just eating in a public place. These events are normal and nonthreatening; however, they create anxiety among some people.
Besides, some sufferers feel symptoms or become stressed long before a social situation.
Let’s say you have a meeting with a teacher after a month, yet, you feel extremely anxious from now.
You always think that you’re not good enough (self-conscious)
According to Thomas Rodebaugh—associate professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences, “People who are impaired by high social anxiety typically think they are coming across much worse than they really are,”
So, it’s obvious that they are hyper self-conscious. Due to such behavior, they tend to feel uneasy at any public event. They felt seen and judged by people even if they eat a simple bite of food in front of others.
Such people always fear that people are looking at them, and they will feel shame if they did something wrong. And ultimately, they try to avoid any activity.
You have Physical symptoms of anxiety (but at an extreme level)
Normal anxiety or shyness and social anxiety disorder share some common symptoms. However, it’s severe or frequent in the case of SAD.
According to the mayo clinic, the physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder includes blushing, shortness of breath, sweaty palm, fast heart rate, nausea, muscle tension, dizziness, and also becoming blank.
Some people feel similar during nervousness. But it’s problematic if you start avoiding social situations due to such extreme feelings.
Fear to ask for anything at a public place.
If you are a person who suffers a lot in some public place, then you can detect your mental illness by this emotional symptom.
Yes, people who have social anxiety disorder hesitate to ask for a simple thing, e.g., asking for a napkin or food in a restaurant.
They even know that those are the kind of people who don’t see you every day. Still, they feel in such a way.
You avoid any social event.
People with SAD avoid or react when they get to have some common social situation such as talking to a stranger or having eye contact, attending to parties or functions, public toilet, being late at some event, eating in front of people, taking part in some activity where you’ll be the centre of attention, and the list goes on.
These are not that humiliating moment as these folks think, but it’s like climbing a big rock in front of them.
If you feel it is hard to attend such gatherings, you must visit a therapist to diagnose the illness.
Normal functioning requires any drug or alcohol.
Sometimes the severity of the condition raises to a level that people with SAD start substance misuse.
According to an article on the connection between social phobia and substance abuse, there are relationships between drug or alcohol addiction and SAD.
Further, you can understand the signs such as drinking alcohol frequently before any public event, feeling guilty after drinking, start drinking the first thing in the morning, etc.
They require any drug or alcohol to function properly in social events. As such drugs or alcohol provide temporary energy, they use these substances to feel confident or presentable in any small to large social situations.
As claimed by a study showing the gender differences in social anxiety disorder, Women are more prone to addiction or substance misuse disorder than men.
Why should you care?
I think I don’t need to mention the consequences or bad impact of social anxiety disorder. But if you’re at the early stage of social anxiety disorder, you need to know the effects.
According to adda.org, several social anxiety disorder outcomes include low performance in school, loneliness, substance misuse, depression, and even low self-esteem.
People with social anxiety can’t make conversation, which has a big impact on their daily lives.
They can’t make friends at school or the workplace. They have a constant fear of taking part in any public event such as classroom discussion or giving a presentation at the office.
People with social anxiety can’t understand their ability; therefore, their performance has a down impact.
And worst of all, they feel frustrated, and the quality of their life worsens. Suicide and mental illness often correlate, and 2nd major cause of death among youth is suicide.
So, you can imagine the result of untreated social anxiety disorders. But the good news is that it’s treatable. The major way to treat SAD is cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT).
Teenage or the early adult days are the “fledgling period” for human life. This is the time when we learn about the odds and challenges and how to overcome them.
Meeting new people and involving in different social activities is normal at this time. And feeling shy or excited before such events are also normal.
However, when the feeling of being social creates horror within you means there’s something wrong. And this is the time when you must seek a good psychotherapist.
Remember one thing; you’re not alone. Some people feel the same way as you. And you can’t get recovery until you ask for help. 🙂
Martin Amis﹘a famous British novelist says,
“Life is made of fear. Some people eat fear of soup three times a day. Some people eat fear soup all the meals there are. I eat it sometimes. When they bring me fear soup to eat, I try not to eat it, I try to send it back. But sometimes I’m too afraid to and have to eat it anyway.”
This quote perfectly aligns with the actual meaning of social anxiety and distinguishes it from shyness.