“I often feel overwhelmed with dread when it comes to social gatherings,” says Subhajit Maparu, a 19-year-old student from Kolkata who has been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). “I tend to overthink every interaction, leading me to avoid these interactions altogether. It’s not just the internal distress that I feel, but also the fear of embarrassing myself in front of others.” The familiar knots in his stomach are a constant reminder of many struggling daily with social anxiety.
For some, social interactions may come easy and be enjoyable, but for those with social anxiety, even the most casual gatherings or routine tasks can be a constant, overwhelming battle. The fear of judgement and failure looms, making something as seemingly insignificant as a class presentation feel like a challenge.
Shyness involves feeling self-conscious in social situations, but it does not typically interfere with a person’s daily life or ability to function. However, extreme fear in social situations is often irrational and disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the situation. This could be because of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr Ranjita Kumari, assistant professor, Department of Clinical Psychology at the Central India Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Chhattisgarh says, “Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), is a subset of anxiety disorders. It can cause individuals to experience the fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations.” This, she says, can lead to the fear of interactions and public speaking.
Read more about shyness and social anxiety here.
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