Similarities and Differences
Another difference is that shyness is something that a person will have experienced throughout their life. Many parents may have observed their children being shy even as babies, and aside from some minor peaks and valleys, their level of shyness has been relatively constant throughout life.
The opposite is true for people with social anxiety disorder. Many times, there is an event that triggers social anxiety. Symptoms usually progress and intensify overtime when there is not adequate treatment.
The last difference is that some people with social anxiety disorder are not shy at all. They manage their anxiety through attention-seeking behaviors. They try to be the center of attention and the life of the party in an effort to control the perceptions and judgments of other people. Shy people are happy to be the wallflower or spend a Friday night at home.
If your issue is shyness, consider yourself lucky, no professional treatment is warranted. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve you social skills. Challenge yourself to engage in more social opportunities and to use more assertive communication. This might lead to increases in your comfort in new situations.
If social anxiety disorder seems to be your condition, seek professional treatment. Therapy and medication management can do well to improve your symptoms by changing your thinking and behavior patterns. Finding treatment early will be key since social anxiety symptoms will continue increasing until it is extremely difficult to leave your home. Early intervention will yield great results.
Your therapy will focus on ideas related to relaxation, cognitive restructuring, systematic desensitization and social skills training through role-playing. These interventions are proven to be highly successful with anxiety disorders.
The process will seem uncomfortable because your therapist will challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody can live up to the exceptionally high expectations of themselves or others. Because of this, it is important to know which traits and characteristics are typical and which ones are pathological.
Shyness and social anxiety disorder share some commonalities, but their differences are extreme enough to illustrate the normalcy of one and the danger of the other. If you have gained the awareness that social anxiety is a part of your life, take the steps to improve you state.
Anxiety in your present doesn’t mean it has to be in your future.