Shyness and Social Anxiety

Shyness is characterised by apprehension and discomfort in some social situations. Severely shy people may have physical symptoms like blushing, sweating, pounding heart or upset stomach, as well as negative feelings about themselves and worries about how others view them. This may lead to a tendency to withdraw from social interactions, leading to problems in relationships and at work.

Social anxiety is a feeling of discomfort, fear or worry that is centred on our interactions with other people and involves a concern with being judged negatively or evaluated by others regardless of whether this is actually the case. While it can often happen during the social exchange itself, it may also appear in anticipation of a social situation or later when we review our performance in a given situation.

Shyness is often connected to a person’s sense of self-worth, confidence and  the quality of their relationships.

The experience of occasional mild social anxiety is quite common. However, when the social anxiety leads to consistent distress and avoidance of social situations it is time to seek help. The good news is, it is possible to overcome the fears linked  with social anxiety disorder. Treatment involves psychological counselling and sometimes medicines (such as anti-depressants) to reduce related anxiety and depression.

Therapy will help identify anxieties and the situations that provoke the anxiety. Several types of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques are used to treat social anxiety including:

  • Cognitive restructuring – this helps you identify and improve fearful thinking
  • Social Skills training – this helps you develop skills needed in social situations through rehearsing and role playing
  • Exposure therapy- thise involves imagining you are facing the feared situation
  • Relaxation strategies and Psycho-education is also helpful with social anxiety

Call to better understand what causes and maintains your particular experience of social anxiety. Therapy will be adapted so that it is relevant to you.

“One step at a time, keep taking small steps. Reach out, take the initiative, be proactive.”