In “Social Anxiety is not the Same as Excessive Shyness” Chris Alaimo describes the thoughts and feelings that a person with social anxiety disorder can relate to. Read Chris’ entire article here.
There is a difference between shyness and social anxiety. We agree with Chris that social anxiety disorder is not shyness. A shy person may have social anxiety disorder, and they may not. A person who meets the diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder may be shy, but they may not have this personality trait.
Some people who come for treatment at the Social Anxiety Institute in Phoenix express feelings of shyness. Many others, participants of the CBT groups run by Dr. Thomas A. Richards, say that they, in fact, do not feel shy at all. They do not define themselves as being shy. These people appear very friendly and talkative. They want to socialize, but they are smothered and trapped in anxiety thoughts, feelings and habits.
Some shy people are fine with being shy and it does not impact their choices in life. They are comfortable with their shyness. A person with social anxiety, on the other hand, beats themself up because of having this condition. This is part of the vicious cycle of anxiety – the over-thinking, over-analyzing, worrying, and anticipatory anxiety, all of which reinforces social anxiety and often results in some degree of depression.