How social anxiety is different from being an introvert?
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) afflicts 15 million adults or nearly 7 percent of the U.S. population. The average age for the onset of this disorder is 13 years. It is a serious mental health disorder in which a person fears that they are being watched or judged by others. As a result, the day-to-day activities of the afflicted person, like attending school, going to church, attending work, grocery shopping, going for hobby classes, etc., start getting hampered. However, when a situation cannot be avoided, they feel anxious and distressed. If left undiagnosed or untreated, SAD can last for many years or even a lifetime and can prevent a person from reaching their full potential.
At times, people get confused between being an introvert or a socially anxious person. Listed below are some of the ways in which one can differentiate between the two.
- They want to go out but are unable to do so – An introvert might avoid going out in order to sit back and relax in a more familiar and comfortable surrounding while, a socially anxious person might not want to socialize out of fear. An introvert generally would want to go out into the social gatherings but may not be able to contribute much or even stay out for long. On the other hand, a socially anxious person is crippled by their fear and feel incapacitated to go out and meet people.
- They are fearful of being judged – Introverts are not concerned about what others might think about them, however, a socially anxious person may feel that they are being judged. This is the reason they avoid going to places where they may meet unfamiliar people.
- They worry about getting to know people – An introvert may like to know about new people but would usually not share any information about themselves. Conversely, a socially anxious person would be hesitant in meeting new people and once they meet them, they may be too scared to get to know them better.
- They avoid social situations even at the cost of missing an opportunity – If avoiding a social gathering would mean missing out on a professional or a personal opportunity, an introvert might motivate themselves to attend it. A socially anxious person may, however, tend to avoid it because of their inherent fear of being judged. For this reason, they may avoid networking opportunities, dinners, and so much more in life.
- They are cancelling plans all the time – An introvert might cancel a night out once in a while to enjoy “Me Time”, whereas, a socially anxious person may cancel plans all the time out of their fear. This leads to a lot of friendships going astray.
- They do not enjoy even if they make the plan – If an introvert decides to go out and meet people, they generally manage to have a good time and relax. A socially anxious person may not enjoy themselves when they go out and might be fidgety, feel self-conscious and nervous all the time. They generally have an unpleasant time when they are out meeting people.
- They feel the need to drink – An introvert would like to have a drink to enjoy it and they can do pretty well without the drink. However, a socially anxious person might want to reach out for a drink to calm their nerves and as a coping mechanism. The problem arises when one is already addicted to alcohol as it might result in excessive alcohol intake.
- They do not relax even after having alone time – After spending some “Me Time”, an introvert might feel energized and relaxed. A socially anxious person, however, does not feel good even after being alone for a while.
- They feel comfortable only with specific people and places – An introvert is open to meet new people and visits new places at their own pace, however, a socially anxious person feels comfortable only around a few familiar faces. In addition, they fear the unknown and are not very open to going to new places.
Seeking help for social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety is a crippling mental health disorder, especially in adolescents and teens. It can greatly affect how one communicates at school, office and family get-togethers, crippling their confidence and relationships. However, proper treatment can help combat the disease. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 31.9 percent adolescents had any anxiety disorder.
If you know an adolescent or a teen struggling with social anxiety disorder, get in touch with the ADEONA Healthcare. The leading anxiety treatment center for teens aged 12-17, we excel in providing long-lasting social anxiety disorder treatment for teens. Call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline (888) 997-3966 to know more about our research-backed anxiety treatment programs. You can also chat online with our representative to understand why anxiety treatment at ADEONA Healthcare is the best for your teen.