Social Anxiety: More than “just introversion”

In case you didn’t already know, here’s the low down on introversion: it’s NOT the same as social anxiety. On the contrary, these two things are completely different (although it is true that social anxiety is more likely to occur among introverts).

While introverts may feel the need to have some alone time to recuperate after periods of social interaction, social anxiety is much more intense. Social anxiety can range from moderate to severe and involves both physical manifestations of anxiety (ie. increased heart-rate, hyperventilation, hot-flashes) and mental manifestations of anxiety (ie. dissociation, panic attacks, worried thoughts, cognitive distortions, etc.).

While introverts may prefer solidarity and experience some level of distress in certain social situations, individuals with social anxiety may become so worried about a social interaction or event that it impairs their ability to function normally in society (ie. difficulty holding a stable job, going to school, maintaining a relationship, etc.). There are of course also individuals with less severe social anxiety who are able to continue functioning properly in society but still experience some level of distress in certain social situations.

If you think that you are experiencing social anxiety it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional or your general physician. While it may seem like you will feel this way forever there are treatment options available and it is definitely possible to overcome social anxiety and learn how to manage the symptoms.

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