Alone Time Doesn’t Really Recharge You
One of the most concrete signs that you may not be an introvert, but instead have social anxiety, is if you find that alone time doesn’t actually recharge you.
“Introverts often feel more energized and recharged after some solitude, whereas with social anxiety, solitude allows the sufferer to feel less anxious than they would in a social situation, but they never really feel better or recharged afterwards,” Albers says. Luckily, Albers also notes that this is totally possible to overcome with treatment and support.
Talk With A Therapist
Despite what some people might suggest, social anxiety goes beyond shyness, or feeling uneasy and nervous around new people. Social anxiety is a mental health condition, and its not always possible to work through symptoms yourself.
You can do a lot on your own to manage the anxiety and distress you experience, but getting professional support is always a good place to start.
A trained mental health professional can:
- offer more insight on the difference between social anxiety and shyness
- help you identify social anxiety triggers
- teach helpful coping strategies, social skills, and relaxation techniques
- offer guidance with challenging and replacing or reframing negative thoughts
Therapy also offers a safe environment to practice navigating anxiety-provoking situations through graduated exposure, one potential treatment for social anxiety.
Your therapist might recommend group therapy or support groups, which give you the chance to practice social skills and interact with other people also coping with social anxiety.
A therapist can also refer you to a psychiatrist, who can prescribe medication for social anxiety. Medication can provide some relief from severe symptoms, making it easier to start working through them in therapy.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Among the different kinds of psychotherapy available, cognitive behavioral therapy which involves making changes to the way you think and feel about a situation, which, in turn, can help you modify your behavior is a helpful way to approach social anxiety. With social anxiety specifically, you want to identify patterns of thinking that cause you to avoid social situations like if a persons always expecting the worst outcome, or a person is fixated on the fact that someone might see them blushing, or sweating or stammering, says Dr. Potter. You want to help them learn to challenge those expectations and adopt more positive self-talk rather than negative self-talk.
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Defining Social Anxiety And Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety can profoundly affect someones ability to socialize and communicate with other people. For those suffering from full-blown social anxiety disorder, which in any given year includes up to seven percent of the adult population, the symptoms of social anxiety can be overwhelming, debilitating, and beyond their ability to control.
* Intense fear of social interactions in a wide variety of contexts
* Anticipatory anxiety that leads social anxiety sufferers to avoid opportunities for conversation or public speaking
* Extreme symptoms of anxiety experienced during unwanted or stressful social interactions
* Poor verbal communication skills, complicated by a persons inability to think clearly while experiencing anxiety
* Overly critical self-evaluations of performance after conversations or spoken presentations are finished
* Low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence, which are reinforced by constant self-criticism
When not interacting with close friends or family, people with severe social anxiety have a deep-seated fear of being judged, rejected, embarrassed or humiliated during social interactions. As irrational as those fears may be, they are difficult to escape.
They Can Shut Down Or Zone Out
This is a defense mechanism, and we all have them, even though they may not present themselves in this manner. Some of us may become angry or irritable some of us may be subject to rants of sorts. So why do we criticize socially anxious people for their defense mechanisms simply because they are different from us? Part of developing empathy for socially anxious people is to recognize that they have their own responses to stress, just as we do.
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Prevalence Of Social Anxiety Disorder Among Adults
- Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Replication , Figure 1 shows past year prevalence of social anxiety disorder among U.S. adults aged 18 or older.1
- An estimated 7.1% of U.S. adults had social anxiety disorder in the past year.
- Past year prevalence of social anxiety disorder among adults was higher for females than for males .
What Can I Do About Social Anxiety Disorder
If your social anxiety keeps you from doing things you want or need to do, or from making or keeping friends, you may need treatment.
Talk about your fears and worries with a doctor or therapist who has experience treating social anxiety disorder. They will be able to tell if you have normal social anxiety or if you need treatment.
Take Slow Deep Breaths
Taking slow, deep breaths can help to calm your overly active nervous system, which is geared up in fight or flight mode. As you focus on mindfulness through your breath, this helps you move out of your head space, where you may be repeating the worries, and connect more with your body. You can sneak into a bathroom, take a break outside, or even discreetly do this at your desk without anyone noticing. As you are breathing, it can also be helpful to add in a coping statement, such as Im with the inhale and OK with the exhale. Ask yourself what coping statement will work for you.
What Causes Social Anxiety
Although it may feel like youre the only one with this problem, social anxiety is actually quite common. Many people struggle with these fears. But the situations that trigger the symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be different.
Some people experience anxiety in most social situations. For others, anxiety is connected to specific social situations, such as speaking to strangers, mingling at parties, or performing in front of an audience. Common social anxiety triggers include:
- Meeting new people
- Being the center of attention
- Being watched while doing something
- Being teased or criticized
- Talking with important people or authority figures
- Being called on in class
- Going on a date
- Speaking up in a meeting
- Using public restrooms
- Eating or drinking in public
- Making phone calls
- Attending parties or other social gatherings
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Tip : Face Your Fears
One of the most helpful things you can do to overcome social anxiety is to face the social situations you fear rather than avoid them. Avoidance keeps social anxiety disorder going. While avoiding nerve-wracking situations may help you feel better in the short term, it prevents you from becoming more comfortable in social situations and learning how to cope in the long term. In fact, the more you avoid a feared social situation, the more frightening it becomes.
Avoidance can also prevent you from doing things youd like to do or reaching certain goals. For example, a fear of speaking up may prevent you from sharing your ideas at work, standing out in the classroom, or making new friends.
While it may seem impossible to overcome a feared social situation, you can do it by taking it one small step at a time. The key is to start with a situation that you can handle and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations, building your confidence and coping skills as you move up the anxiety ladder.
For example, if socializing with strangers makes you anxious, you might start by accompanying an outgoing friend to a party. Once youre comfortable with that step, you might try introducing yourself to one new person, and so on. To work your way up a social anxiety ladder:
Dont try to face your biggest fear right away. Its never a good idea to move too fast, take on too much, or force things. This may backfire and reinforce your anxiety.
Congratulate Yourself Afterwards: You Feared Going To That Party But Did And Were Ok
It often isnt easy to be in social situations as an introvert, especially if youre combating social anxiety, too. But, you did it! You can tell yourself, Even though I was terrified, I did it, and I survived, Im proud of myself for at least trying, Im getting better at this, or the situation gave me an opportunity to practice what Im learning in therapy. Speaking of which, many therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy , the evidence-based therapy model that has been found to be most effective in treating social anxiety by helping you change your thinking patterns.
So while social anxiety can definitely be debilitating, it can also be manageable.
Want to get one-on-one help from a trained therapist? Weve personally used and recommend BetterHelp for therapy. Its private, affordable, and takes place online. Introvert, Dear readers get 10% off their first month.
We receive compensation from BetterHelp when you use our referral link. We only recommend products when we believe in them.
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If You Feel Like Other People Are Watching And Judging Your Every Move You Might Have Social Anxiety
As an introvert, its common to hear things such as come out of your shell, why are you so quiet, speak up more, just come out with us tonight. Since introverts feel more comfortable in the sanctuary of their home, comments such as these can convey pressure and frustration, and they may feel as if they are not accepted for who they are. Its as though introverts are expected to interact as if they were extroverts, and all of this can feel quite uncomfortable!
This pressure can lead to feelings of anxiety, especially if introverts feel like they are coerced to step outside their comfort zone. Does this mean introverts also have social anxiety? It can, but not necessarily. Theres a difference between being introverted, being shy, and having social anxiety. However, reasons like the above are why introverts may be more susceptible to experiencing social anxiety. But research shows that not all introverts experience social anxiety, and not all socially anxious people are introverts.
Similarly, being an introvert and being shy are two different things, as well. If you are introverted, you might keep to yourself because you enjoy solitude and recharge from it you need it. If you are shy, however, you may find your shyness eases up as you begin to feel comfortable. For example, you might have zero reservations about speaking your mind among close friends. Or at a party, your nervousness might wear off once you feel welcomed and accepted.
Figuring Out The Causes Is The First Step To Finding The Right Treatment
Knowing the causes of social anxiety or social anxiety disorder can help you or someone you care about find a treatment to reduce stress and symptoms. If the causes seem to be purely neurological, for example, psychiatry might be the best approach. But if the issues seem to stem from experiences, environments, beliefs or behaviors, talk therapy is the best long-term solution.
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You Worry About Getting To Know People
Introverts may be totally happy meeting new people â but want to do things on their own terms. If you avoid meeting new people, instead, because you’re scared, then you may actually be socially anxious.
” meet people who you like and would like to get to know better, but you avoid getting to know them or inviting them to do things out of fear,”Thomas Rodebaugh, an associate professor of psychology who studies social anxiety at Washington University in St. Louis, tells Bustle. To work on this fear, Rodebaugh suggests cognitive behavioral therapy , or self-help books if you’re not quite ready to take that leap.
They Want To Be Recognized For Something Other Than Just Their Social Maladaptation
A mental health issue does not define a person it is simply one trait possessed right now. People with this affliction can be intelligent, can be productive, and can have a number of personalities and professional traits that are quite positive. Recognizing and praising these positive traits will show that you see beyond this single negative and can see their value as a whole person.
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Things People Do To Control Social Anxiety
If you’ve been waiting until you feel that your social anxiety is under control to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone, you may never get to that place. In the meantime, why not “fake it until you make it” by doing little things that can help you feel more in control of your social anxiety, instead of it controlling you?
Social Anxiety Disorder With Impairment Among Adults
- Of adults with social anxiety disorder in the past year, degree of impairment ranged from mild to serious, as shown in Figure 2. Impairment was determined by scores on the Sheehan Disability Scale.3
- Of adults with social anxiety disorder in the past year, an estimated 29.9% had serious impairment, 38.8% had moderate impairment, and 31.3% had mild impairment.
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Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone
You may be thinking: But thats the problem. I cant! The trick is in setting manageable goals for yourself.
For example, if youre new to running, you probably wouldnt begin by signing up for a marathon. Instead, you might start by running only a minute at a time and walking for a while, too. The same can apply when dealing with shyness and social anxiety.
Instead of taking on more than you can handle, you might begin by setting a goal you know you can complete. And that will look different for everyone.
For one person, a good first goal might be texting a friend to say hi. For another, it might look like taking a walk around the park when more people are outside.
To identify that kind of a goal, the key is to be honest with yourself about what steps you can take. If you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself, you might need to scale back the goal to make it more manageable. Or maybe you need to push a bit beyond your comfort zone.
When it comes to identifying whats possible given your own social anxiety or shyness, youre the expert.