Why is that person so shy?
By James Eckhoff, MS, NCC, LPC, LAC
Is it really just shyness?
Social Anxiety Disorder, or Social Phobia as it is sometimes called, is not just shyness, though many people have confused these two concepts together. Shyness tends to be more of a personality aspect of someone, which has the tendency to at least mildly decrease once we become used to the people we are around. Social Anxiety, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – V, is defined as “persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” This goes significantly beyond simple shyness, and often doesn’t just dissipate as comfort increases. Instead, every time a person with Social Anxiety Disorder is in a social situation or performance situation, they experience significant levels of distress.
Social Anxiety is all around us
So, what does this mean for our daily social interactions? Well, if you are someone who battles with Social Anxiety, then the impacts are felt constantly and may greatly decrease the opportunities that are experienced due to not wanting the distress. Knowing that sufferers genuinely want to engage socially but lack the emotional coping skills to do so will significantly help non-sufferers understand. When someone fails to engage you in conversation, responds in socially awkward ways, or perhaps even appears rude or short with you, know that they may be experience significant levels of anxiety and are not just someone to be ignored.
James Eckhoff is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Lafayette. When not counseling, teaching, or writing articles, he can be found on his weekly podcast about psychology at soundcloud.com/podcastnos