Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and shyness share many of the same characteristics. They both involve trouble connecting with others socially, often in a way that appears either disinterested or overly introverted.
But there are some important distinctions between the two. While many people suffer from a touch of shyness or general discomfort around new people and new situations, it is usually tolerable. For those with SAD, these types of conditions are not bearable, and in some cases can be debilitating.
The Similarities and Differences Between Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder
Features are similar with both. Those who are shy and those that have social anxiety disorder may feel some variation of the following:
- Feel Awkward or Tense During Social Encounters With New People
- Suffer From Blushing, Sweating, or Trembling
- Have Negative Thoughts About Themselves
- Worry About How Others See Them
- Have a Tendency to Withdraw from New Social Interactions
These features can cause serious problems in one’s life, causing people to hesitate to say or do something because they are unsure of themselves. However, most shy people are not severely limited by this condition and are able to push through their discomfort. Those with social anxiety suffer from the same symptoms to such a degree that they are not able to function properly.
For instance, it is perfectly normal for someone to get nervous before speaking to a group of friends. Someone who is shy may worry about it and tremble and blush throughout the speech.
Someone with social anxiety disorder might worry about the social situation long before it occurs, leave before they have a chance to speak, or experience a panic attack right before or during the social situation.
Determining Your Social Anxieties
As a Long Island psychologist, I know there are ways to improve social confidence no matter what you’re struggling with, and if you need help being more social and outgoing – even if you are struggling solely with shyness – there are strategies that we can use to help.
But social anxiety disorder is more than shyness. It is a type of anxiety that is debilitating, and affects your relationships, friendships, self-esteem, and more. If you’re interested in discussing your social anxieties and shyness, contact me today at (516) 732-0273.