The 4 Differences Between Shyness And Social Phobia

We find a person who does not dare to express himself or speak in public and who keeps the expression of his thoughts inhibited. This person suffers from this and finds it difficult to relate and defend his position. Why does it cost you so much? Some interpret that this person is extremely shy, while others consider that she has a social phobia. But what are the differences between one thing and another?

To this end, we are going to make a brief definition of each of the two concepts, to later focus on the differences between shyness and social phobia.

    What do we mean by shyness?

    The shyness It is a personality characteristic present in a large number of people in which the subject who has it has difficulty expressing themselves in public and connecting with their peers, which requires a certain effort and usually generates anxiety.

    These types of people tend to be quiet not because they have nothing to say but because they are afraid to do so due to the possibility of being judged negatively.

    It is not that the shy person is introverted (in fact shy people can actually be very extraverted), but rather that out of fear they tend to be extremely cautious regarding what they say and to whom, and do not dare to express their points of view with firmness. These people may feel insecure and uncomfortable in social situations, and generally do not deal with large groups of unfamiliar people.

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    a shy person may suffer from this shyness by causing a certain isolation and limitation of social life. However, shyness is not considered a pathology unless it is taken to the extreme and social situations are actively avoided or symptoms such as anxiety attacks are generated.

    social phobia

    Social phobia or social anxiety disorder It is a disorder linked to anxiety in which the subject who suffers from it has an irrational and persistent fear of exposing themselves in social situations or in front of certain people, due to the fear of being judged or performing some action that makes them look ridiculous.

    The person tries as much as possible avoid social situations and feels a high level of anxiety if forced to participate in such situations, and may experience anxiety crises. The person recognizes that the fear of it is irrational, and is not due to other disorders or substance use.

    This disorder can occur in a generalized way or by limiting the panic to specific situations such as performing an exhibition or a certain type of activity in public.

    Differences between shyness and social phobia

    As we can see from the definitions of shyness and social phobia, both concepts are similar in the core of the concept: in both cases the person suffers from a fear of being socially judged by their actions or words, inhibiting their interaction with their peers to some degree and causing a more or less severe limitation of expression and social connection.

    In fact, it is sometimes considered that Social phobia is the pathological extreme of shynessand it is not strange that personalities with a high level of shyness in childhood can develop social phobia in the future (although it does not have to happen).

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    Despite the aforementioned similarities, we can find various differences between shyness and social phobia, some of the main ones being the following.

    1. Non-avoidance of social interaction

    Firstly, shyness is a more or less stable personality characteristic throughout life, although it can be reduced as the subject’s life experience varies. But although it may produce some limitations It is not considered a disorder.

    Social phobia implies the presence of a high level of fear of confronting social situations that causes continuous and persistent avoidance. However, the shy person does is able to carry out interaction in social situations and although she does not feel safe in such contexts, she does not avoid them so actively. For example, the shy person may go to a party even if he doesn’t talk much, but the phobic will avoid it if he can do so.

    2. General fear

    Another point in which both concepts differ is that while the shy person usually feels uncomfortable in front of specific situations or people, in social phobia fear and tends to be more generalized (even if we are talking about a circumscribed phobia).

    3. Physiological differences

    A third point of contrast is the presence of symptoms at a physiological level. A shy person may suffer from blushing, sweating, gastrointestinal discomfort and some nervousness when exposed, but in general no major alterations are generated. However, in the case of social phobia, tachycardia, breathing difficulties and severe anxiety attacks may be experienced not only when facing the situation, but also when imagining it in advance.

    4. The intensity of the limitation

    Finally, the shy person may suffer at a given moment due to the perceived inability to relate or defend their point of view, but in the case of a social phobia the fear and worry are more continuous and limit their quality of life.

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    Thus, someone who is shy may prefer to cross a street instead of the one a few meters away so as not to meet someone specific, while a person with social phobia is capable of not leaving the house knowing that at that time a person someone she likes comes home from work and could run into her by chance.