Social anxiety can sometimes lead to depression, but the right support can help you manage both conditions.
If you live with social anxiety, it can be tempting to avoid social situations that might cause uncomfortable anxiety symptoms. As humans, we’re programmed to keep pain at bay, after all.
So, what happens when you’re sitting at home alone after backing out of plans with your friends at the last minute?
For some people with social anxiety, the isolation it brings can come with feelings of inadequacy, sadness, or even shame, sometimes mimicking or causing depression.
Social anxiety that leads to a diagnosis like major depressive disorder (MDD) can sometimes mean dealing with anxiety and depression symptoms that are harder to treat.
But a care approach that supports you in addressing social anxiety symptoms head-on while acknowledging and treating your depressive symptoms can help.
When people bring up social anxiety, they usually mean social anxiety disorder, an anxiety disorder also called “social phobia.“
Fear around social situations is the main feature of social anxiety, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). But this fear can come up at different times, depending on what kind of social anxiety you have.
For example, some people have “performance only” social anxiety, meaning their anxiety only flares up in situations where they must speak or perform in front of others. They might not experience anxiety at parties, their workplace, or the grocery store, as is common for other people with social anxiety.
Since social anxiety causes fear in social situations, it’s not uncommon to become isolated if you live with the condition. While isolation doesn’t always cause loneliness, it often can — and this loneliness often leads to depression.
Who experiences social anxiety?
A 2015 review found that roughly 8% to 13% of people will experience social anxiety disorder in their lifetime, but this can vary depending on your culture.
Research from 2017 also suggests that while women are more likely to experience severe social anxiety symptoms, men may be more likely to seek treatment for it.
The difference between social anxiety disorder and the social stress many of us experience from time to time is that social anxiety tends to cause fear that’s out of proportion to the situation you’re worried about.
For instance, if you live with social anxiety, the thought of an upcoming work meeting might trigger strong physical anxiety symptoms, like nausea and dizziness.
According to the DSM-5, you might have social anxiety if you:
- fear social interaction, being watched, or performing in front of other people
- worry others will …….