|Shyness is not a natural progression and it can develop into social anxiety / Photo by Puhhha via 123RF|
Most of us would feel some shyness at some point in our lives from dating, job interviews, going to a party or even making a difficult phone call. If you have spent your whole life feeling anxious at events like these, you may wonder if this is still normal or it might be something more serious. Although shyness and social anxiety disorder share many characteristics, they are significantly different in several ways. In a statistics presented by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. In fact, about 40 million adults ages 18 and above in the U.S. alone are affected by those kinds of conditions.
According to an article by the Very Well Mind, there are main symptoms that distinguish shyness from social anxiety disorder (SAD) such as the level of avoidance, the intensity of the fear, and the impairment of functioning that it causes in a person’s life. While shyness can actually develop into social anxiety, previous studies showed that it isn't a natural progression. In fact, people who have been suffering from SAD are not aware that they have this kind of condition. Some of you might see them as talkative and friendly but behind that demeanor is the struggle with anxious thoughts. These thoughts can affect their behavior and would often leave them unable to cope with social situations.
Most people tend to dismiss SAD as just extreme shyness. However, one thing that differentiates both characteristics is that SAD can have intense symptoms to a particular person such as racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, or shaking. Unfortunately, these signs usually do not go away but get worse as the situation happens. A person with SAD usually unable to control their feelings.
What it Likes to Live with Social Anxiety Disorder
Living with social anxiety disorder is a real life-limiting condition for several reasons. One, SAD has physical symptoms that may difficult to endure and also gives people a hard time about it. In most cases, these people usually avoid social contact because it makes them feel uncomfortable. One thing that people should know is that panic attacks can happen anywhere and at any time. For instance, talking to strangers, speaking in public, dating, making eye contact, entering rooms, using public restrooms, going to parties, eating in front of other people, going to school or work, starting conversations, and many more.
According to WebMD, there are several different reasons why socially anxious people feel that way but mostly, they feel an overwhelming fear of being judged by others in social situations, being embarrassed or humiliated, accidentally offending someone, and being the center of attention. Some of the physical symptoms that might occur are a rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, dizziness and lightheadedness, stomach trouble and diarrhea, inability to catch a breath, and "out-of-body” sensation.
Above all, SAD limits or prevents people from living their life because they will avoid situations that most people considered "normal." It can lead to negative thoughts, low self-esteem, depression, sensitivity to criticism, and poor social skills that don’t improve.
Introverts More Likely to Suffer from 'Hangxiety'
In a recent study conducted by the researchers from the University of Exeter and UCL, they have found out that although there has been a slight decreased of anxiety in highly shy people when they drink about six units of alcohol, it would be replaced by a state of "hangxiety" - anxiety during a hangover - among the shy drinkers the next day.
According to Science Daily, the study has found a strong link between hangxiety and alcohol use disorder (AUD) in highly shy people through using the AUDIT test. In an interview, Professor Celia Morgan of the University of Exeter said, "We know that many people drink to ease anxiety felt in social situations, but this research suggests that this might have rebound consequences the next day, with more shy individuals more likely to experience this, sometimes debilitating, an aspect of a hangover. These findings also suggest that hangxiety, in turn, might be linked to people's chance of developing a problem with alcohol."
Professor Morgan also added that to help people transition away from heavy alcohol use, they should accept being shy or being an introvert first. "It's a positive trait. It's OK to be quiet," she added.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety
Although this might seem hard for some people suffering from SAD, it would help to try managing your feelings, especially in a social situation. According to WebMD, the best way to treat these conditions is through cognitive behavioral therapy or medication. People can join 12 to 16 therapy sessions that aim to build your confidence, get out of your comfort zone, and help you manage the situations that scare you most. Engaging in social skills training and role-playing are also good choices to overcome social anxiety.
Additionally, taking care of yourself is a big factor such as getting enough sleep, exercising, limiting alcohol and caffeine. In some cases, therapists would suggest taking antidepressants to treat your social anxiety disorder such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).
|Hangxiety can be develop into people having problems with alcohol / Photo by Ion Chiosea via 123RF|