You’re Not Shy or Stuck Up. You Have Social Anxiety Disorder.

written by Eileen Bailey, posted on ADDitude Magazine

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Some people believe social anxiety disorder (SAD) is synonymous with shyness. Others, including some physicians, don’t believe it exists at all. But for those living with SAD, it’s very real.

If you have SAD, you constantly worry about being negatively judged by others. You might find it difficult to eat or talk in public, or to use public bathrooms. You might find it impossible to attend social events. As with other anxiety disorders, you might know your fear is irrational but feel powerless to stop it.

How Common is Social Anxiety?

Studies show that 2 to 13 percent of the U.S. population experiences social anxiety, at some point in their lives, to the degree that it would be considered SAD. It is the most common type of anxiety disorder in teenagers. It is more common in women and often starts in childhood or early adolescence. Some evidence suggests that, like other anxiety disorders, it occurs more frequently in children and adults with ADHD.

Is Social Anxiety a Personality Trait?

SAD and shyness are not the same. Shyness is considered a personality trait. People who are shy experience nervousness or anxiety when faced with a social or interpersonal situation but accept that being shy is part of who they are. Those with social anxiety might be shy or might be extroverts, but they view SAD as a negative and often are hard on themselves for feeling the way they do.