Often social anxiety gets mistaken for shyness in social situations.
However, it is much more robust than shyness, and often shyness isn’t even present in someone with a social anxiety disorder. It is even as complex as appearing sociable and outgoing.
Social Anxiety can drive your friendliness, only to haunt you after the interactions with worrying about what you said or did, and it causes you anxiety.
There are a few sneaky ways that it can show up that you may have been attributing to generalized anxiety.
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After Social interactions – Analysis of your interactions and perceived flaws.
This is tricky with social anxiety and why it may sneak up on you. You may go to social outings, and others think you are outgoing and friendly, and you feel great while interacting. Then you go home and find yourself feeling embarrassed or replaying the interaction in your mind and catastrophizing the interpretations, increasing your anxiety. If you find yourself doing this often and in excess, this can be indicative of an anxiety disorder.
Before social interactions and worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself.
This shows up when you have social anxiety before engaging in social activities, worrying about what you might do or say that could be perceived negatively. At the extreme, it prevents you from going out and being social because the anxiety is too much. If it is causing you distress and impacting your ability to be social, it may be time to talk with someone to learn coping skills and techniques to work through this.
When to get help
Is it impacting you to the degree that you often feel anxious or find yourself spiraling or ruminating before or after social interactions and assuming the worst interpretation from others?
Therapy can help work through the underlying feelings and emotions, work with you to find tools to help manage this anxiety, and allow you to begin treat it.
Lindsey Ferris, MS, LMFTA, Washington State