In a society that pressures individuals to look like stars on magazine covers, graduate college with high GPA’s, and make enough money to live a lifestyle most of us will only see in movies and TV shows, 19.2 million people will suffer from social anxiety disorders. Sure, not all cases of shyness or anxiety are caused from these factors, but I believe they’re certainly adding to the numbers. As we evaluate a phobia which generates $42 billion a year, it begs the question “Are we a society of anxiety?” (Healthyplace)
In order to answer the question, first we must understand the differences between shyness and social anxiety/phobia. Shyness is defined as being reserved or having/showing ...view middle of the document...
Characteristics of physical levels include accelerated heart rate, dry mouth, shaking, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and butterflies in stomach. Mentally, one may experience negative thoughts about themselves, the situation, or others, fear of evaluation or judging, self-blaming after social interactions, believe that they are weak while others are powerful and negative self-concept or self-esteem. Emotionally, one may feel a sense of depression, loneliness, sadness, shame, embarrassment, and anxiety. (WebMD)
Throughout history, there have been many well-known figures and entertainers who suffer from shyness. Respected figures like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison have all had their battles with shyness, even with the stresses of dealing with people and public speaking consistently in their routine. It just goes to show how shyness truly affects people in different ways. In the entertainment industry, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, and David Letterman have had bouts with shyness, people that most would never place in the category of shy.
Now that we have an understanding of shyness, we can begin to draw the line where shyness ends, and social anxiety begins. Social anxiety, or social phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Although this sounds very familiar to shyness, social phobia differentiates itself by being a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions. The line is drawn when characteristics of shyness begin to interfere and negatively affect ones work, school, activities, and relationships with others. A person with social phobia will begin to have anxiety and fear about a situation for days or possibly weeks before it happens. (WebMD)
The key in diagnosing a person with social anxiety is evaluating how they deal with situations. For example, if a person is avoiding a better paying job because of the fear of a job interview, or meeting new people in the work place, this is considered intense enough to be dictated as social phobia. A shy person may not be comfortable in the same situation, but they will not avoid it by all costs. In addition, a person with social phobia may turn down the honor of being a best man at a wedding because he is anxious about public speaking or walking down the aisle and standing in front of a room of people. This is the line where shyness becomes anxiety, and reactions have an adverse effect on one’s life.
Sadly, social anxiety may eventually cause other disorders, including depression, alcoholism, and eating disorders. About “thirty-five percent of people with social anxiety experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime.” (Hilliard 24) Additionally, about fifteen percent of people have problems with alcohol. This is due to self-medication to gain courage during social...