Many people spend their lives with a social anxiety disorder or only discover that they have it later in life. This is often the outcome of parents not recognizing that their child’s behavior is more than just being shy. Those who have grown up feeling that they’re “painfully shy” may actually be suffering from social anxiety. If this describes you, or you have a child who appears to be shy, this article may help you. There are distinct differences between shyness and social anxiety, and we can help you learn to identify them.
Understanding Social Anxiety and Its Effects
The effects of social anxiety can have serious impacts during our childhood years. This is a critical time of our life when we’re developing the necessary social skills to face the rigors of adulthood. Those growing up with SAD may not have been able to develop the appropriate social to thrive in the world easily. These individuals often develop avoidance techniques to protect them from the social fears thy harbor.
As we grow up, the symptoms of SAD can negatively impact our financial independence, career success, personal relationships, and education. Many with this condition will tend to lead an isolated lifestyle and often delve into depression and substance abuse. Even more unfortunate, this condition is entirely treatable, with 70% of those seeking treatment being successful.
So how do you identify whether you’re experiencing mere shyness or actual social anxiety?
The first thing to know is that the symptoms most often appear in childhood. While this is the case, around 50% of all adults with the disorder manage to seek treatment. Even those who do often take an inordinate amount of time to do so. Often as much as 15 years after the onset of symptoms.
The key differences that set social anxiety apart from shyness are:
- Symptoms are severe enough to negatively impact the sufferer’s life
- Fear is intense, often feeling impossible to overcome
- Active avoidance of any social situation vs. nervousness
Those with social anxiety have such feelings of fear that they will hyperfocus on any situation prone to trigger it. Preparing for a speech can mean weeks or even months of lost sleep, nausea, sweats, shaking, and a racing heart when focusing on the upcoming event. These symptoms do not recede as the event gets closer but rather are intensified. The individual experiencing these symptoms often knows that they’re unfounded or overblown. Regardless, they find themselves unable to control them.
Contact Your Mental Health Provider For A Diagnosis
If you suspect that you or your children are suffering from a social anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. Your mental health provider can take steps to help you manage this condition and learn to face the world without fear. While the process may take time, over 70% of all those with the condition experience success when treated. Don’t wait to turn your life around and start living confidently and unafraid of social situations. Reach out for your first appointment today!