According to Dr. Samantha Rodman, a therapist on the online therapy platform Talk Space, 18% of the population suffers from anxiety. Of those, 63% aren’t receiving treatment, and 34% aren’t receiving adequate treatment. Women are more likely to live with fear than men; 60% to be exact. Some folks just believe they’re shy, introverted or quiet. While others think they’re just awkward or lacking in the social graces.
So how can you tell the difference between pure shyness and anxiety? Here are ten signs you might be living with anxiety and that it’s time to seek help.
- You won’t attend events even if you’re interested because you think you might feel awkward. Line dancing sounds fun and cool; you don’t go because you cringe thinking how silly and stupid you’ll look doing it. Sure, others might not know the moves either, but they’ll appear less clumsy than you. You freak out and are likely to be more afraid if an event involves performing.
- You might also decide you’re NOT really interested in these events anyway because you’ll feel awkward. Unlike the scenario above, you convince yourself line dancing is ridiculous in general. In your heart, you know it would be fun, but you suppress these emotions, using sarcasm or cynicism as a cover.
- If your appearance changes slightly, you’re afraid to go out and see others. You worry they will mock you, (even in their minds), for your too short haircut or the zit on your nose.
- I find this one particularly sad. You don’t expect people will become friends with you. Like worrying whether you’d be the last one chosen for a sports game in your days at school, you’re concerned you’ll be left on the sidelines as others gather in groups, leaving you on your own. This might happen. You take the rejection personally, believing those around you find you weird. However, it could simply be because you don’t make a move to approach anyone.
- You have millions of excuses for not getting out there and dating. Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or one that is short-term, you’re quick to compile a list of excuses why dating isn’t right for you at the moment. You push down feelings of loneliness, believing you should just live with those feelings.
- You believe co-workers or classmates look down on you. Everyone gets along famously; when you walk into a room, you swear they roll their eyes or pity you. You avoid common areas like break rooms or lounge areas.
- You’re constantly editing your social media updates before posting them. You worry about what others might think about what you’re posting. You’re afraid of appearing desperate, stupid, or uninformed. You take the time searching for just the right imoji; and even after all this effort, you believe your posts are pathetic.
- You act differently when speaking confidentially. If you play online games or are able to remain unnamed in any capacity, this gives you a level of comfort unusual for you. By remaining incognito, you believe you can allow your true self to shine through. You don’t feel as though others are judging you.
- While growing up, you thought it was normal to constantly fear the judgement of others. Social anxiety can be learned from others. Did you have anxious parents who avoided or wrote off social situations? It can also be inherited.
- You wonder what your life would be like if you were more confident. You then quickly conclude it’s impossible for one reason or another. Social anxiety can make you feel trapped in your life. Others appear more carefree in your eyes. This can lead to depression, sadness, and hopelessness.
That’s some heavy stuff! So if you think you could have social anxiety, what can you do?
Very simply, seek help. Don’t allow this anxiety to trap you in a life that isn’t the one you want for yourself. Therapy can help. Taking that first step in asking for it can be the most difficult. But once you do, you’ll be on your way to a happier you.