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How Does Shyness Stem Into Social Anxiety?

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Shyness refers the quality or state of being shy. It’s synonyms are bashful, reserved, introversion, being timid, fearfulness, nervousness, hesitation and doubt. Having social anxiety however, refers to the intense fear of being judged or rejected within a social setting. Synonyms of anxiety are worry, concern, unease, angst, nervousness, stress, suspense, disquiet and fearfulness. So how does shyness relate and stem into social anxiety disorder?

Shyness, on one hand, has many causes. It could be caused from biological differences in the brain to overprotective parents. The term shyness is also connected to a low self esteem issue. Children who are not allowed to experience things at a young age also lead to shyness. Their surrounding and interactions with parents will do the same thing. Then again 15% of infants are born with a predisposition to be shy. This leads to very underdeveloped social skills, hence why homeschool kids are very awkward in a social interaction.( Heitz) Shyness can not be found as a disorder, but rather just a personality trait of its own. This also comes with introversion, which is just a general tendency to be quiet and reserved or behavioral inhibition which is when you are timid or fearful around strangers, which is common in any case. ( Ford. 3)

Shyness and self consciousness is something like spending hours working up the nerve to go to prom, blushing when called on in class, spending hours choosing what to wear on the first day of school and trying out for a sports team and being nervous about the results. Social anxiety, however, is spending days working up the nerve to ask somebody to prom only to give up and decide you don’t want to go , blushing when called on then skipping class because that was embarrassing, spending an hour choosing an outfit then second guessing the clothes you chose and wondering who all is judging you, and you just don’t try out because you fear the rejection. (Ford 34)

Although, Shyness is a usual trait for those with social anxiety disorder, it is not always the case. Only half have reported being shy. People who are shy, don’t have the negative effects of Social Anxiety. With that, only 25% of shy people meet the requirement to have social anxiety disorder. The two do overlap, but social anxiety is not a personality trait but shyness is. Those with social anxiety tend to have really weak relationships and do badly to school. (Richards)

When somebody with social anxiety still goes to school they are usually seen as just a super shy person.they typically avoid talking, not wanting to read outloud, fear of performing in front of others, worrying about being judged, not speaking up, hesitant to play sports, and just really anxious about a test.(Ford 33)

Shyness and social anxiety can be started in the beginning years of their lives. Children with SAD( social anxiety disorder) do not usually develop these skills very well and can often be dismissed as extreme shyness. SAD can cause a huge impact on career success, learning, financial independence, and relationships. With only about 75% of people not getting the help that they need for sad it can lead to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. ( Cuncic)

Social Anxiety is an actual disorder which can be treated. At first it was just a minor problem now it is huge in the United States. Social anxiety and social phobia are one and the same. (Ford. 10) Causes of social anxiety are genetics, personal experience, demographics and chemicals within the brain. Some signs that somebody might have social anxiety are avoiding being the center of attention, being around strangers, excessive fear of being teased or criticised, and being anxious about the anxiety, making it worse. Physical signs of social anxiety may include blushing, weeping, nausea, shaking, and abdominal pain.(Timothy)

Social anxiety can start as something very small and irrelevant until all you can really see the embarrassment and humiliation which a social interaction may cause. The constant dread of social interaction can lead it intense worry. This will then hold you back from your true potential in life. (Ford 23)

SAD is more tolerated in group focused societies. Shyness and withdrawn behaviors are more accepted within these societies. Shyness and social anxiety are the same thing within this form of society. The community tries to makes things less awkward. Those with SAD tend to have unrealistic fears because those within the community will try to make things less awkward and uncomfortable for those with social anxiety disorder. (ford 31)

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Many can not see social anxiety disorder from the outside, and it is more of a mental disorder. Red signs for SAD, in general, include worrying for days about an event, worrying about the past, confused or just freezing in social situations, difficulty with public speaking, not inviting friends together in fear of being the center of attention, staying home even though you want to go out and enjoy things, fearing to talk and not making eye contact, feeling like an outsider, and last but certainly not least, sweating, trembling, and blushing. (Ford 32/33)

Anxiety is a natural reaction to a threat that happens at a certain stress point. It increases your attention and you can face practically anything. But with an anxiety disorder, your brain can lose perception of perception. Clinical Anxiety includes an anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and panic disorders. This is a cognitive misinterpretation of a situation. Somebody with general anxiety disorder responds to normal situations as if they are life threatening. Panic disorders are blindsided by crippling fear and pain. This is the most intense form of anxiety and the root of all phobia. The most common clinical anxiety is social anxiety disorder. It is a consuming fear of social situations. (Hagerman chapter 4… all of it)

Social Anxiety disorder can then trigger panic attacks,which are triggered by certain events. This then leads to a panic disorder, which makes you panic about panicking. (Ford 30)Many issues come two for the price of one. Depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders can come with SAD. Depression is just a constant low mood and loss of interest in practically anything and everything. Substance abuse is when you try to find some sort of instant relief with a drug( marijuana and alcohol are common)and eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. (Ford 43)

Signs of an eating disorder such as anorexia and bulimia can come from your general social anxiety. Anoxia and bulimia can come from being super self conscious and envious of somebody else who may be thinner than you. Anorexia signs include sudden dramatic weight loss, moving food around on a plate, claiming not to be hungry even though you are, thinking you’re fat even though you are underweight, extremely fearful of gaining weight, stopping of menstruation, refusing to eat, excuses to avoid meal time, excessively counting calories, wearing baggy closes to high the weight loss and weighing yourself all the time. Signs of bulimia are eating large amounts only to throw it up later, exercising frequently, regardless of other conditions, such as your health or the weather. ( Ford 56)

There is medication for social anxiety. The 70% who take medication for social anxiety disorder do get better, versus the 30% who take a placebo, which is just a sugar pill. The many variations of drugs for anxiety include SSRI’s, SNRI’s, MAOI and benzodiazepines.

SSRIs are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors which is for Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic disorders, phobias, Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bulimia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are antidepressants and are usually the first choice for many doctors. The drug increases the serotonin in the brain, hence serotonin reuptake. Some common SSRI’s are Paxil and Zoloft

SNRI’s are Serotonin- Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. They are for depression, Social Anxiety, and long term pain. Serotonin- Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors ease depression by changing the brain chemistry. Common SNRI’s are Effexor XR, Cymbalta and Fetzima.

MAOIs are Monoamine oxidase inhibitors. This drug is an antidepressant. They are used for depression, anxiety disorders, and panic disorders. They also mess with the brain chemicals but you have to be very careful and have a strict diet when taking these, or else you risk heart failure. It can be taken specifically for anxiety but it is rarely used. BuSpar, Marplan and Azilect are common MAOIs.( Ford 70)

Although anxiety can be treated with medication and drugs of sorts, there are those tree huggers who do not want to put anything in their temple of a body. So, it the next choice. It is proven that 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity 3 to 5 days a week will cover a wide range of health problems. Obesity, blood pressure, bone density, cardiovascular fitness, academic performance, depression and anxiety can be prevented through doing a run every day. (Hagerman 22)

Exercise provides a distraction from somebody’s anxiety, teaches your brain that an increased heart rate does not equal a panic attack or there is any danger, improves resilience with your mind, sets you free from an every day anxiety, reroutes your brain to chill out, and builds brain resources so you aren’t as anxious. Exercise counteracts anxiety and depression most of the time.

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How Does Shyness Stem Into Social Anxiety? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
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