Introvert or Socially Anxious – What’s the Difference?

Many people consider introversion and social anxiety to be the two sides of the same coin. However, there is a large difference between the two. For one, introversion is something you are born with, while social anxiety is something you may develop over the course of your life. That said, it can be rather hard to figure out whether a person is an introvert or socially anxious, as both may manifest in similar ways. Therefore, before you start considering online anxiety counseling services, you may want to make sure that you are suffering from online anxiety and not simply being an introvert. In this article, we will explain what introversion and social anxiety are, their differences, and whether it is possible to be both socially anxious and introverted at the same time.

Is being introverted the same as being socially anxious?

In a nutshell, no. However, if we are only looking at the surface, the two might seem to be the same. After all, introverts and socially anxious people may exhibit similar behaviors. Both may find parties and crowds of people to be overwhelming, and both may want to fiercely protect their alone time. However, only one may benefit from top online therapy services. To fully understand what sets introverts and socially anxious people apart, we first need to understand what introversion and social anxiety are.

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What is introversion?

Introversion is a social trait. A person who is considered to be an introvert usually feels more comfortable when they focus on their ideas and inner thoughts, rather than focusing on everything that is happening around them. Therefore, introverts are much more comfortable when they are spending time alone or with a limited number of people (usually one or two). Large crowds make introverts feel uncomfortable, as they may not know or want to deal with the social pressure involved. Furthermore, introverted person refills their energy reserves by turning to their own minds, whereas extroverted person turns to other people to recharge their proverbial batteries.

person sitting on a pier
Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone, which is how you may tell whether you are introvert or socially anxious.

Almost one-half of all U.S. residents are introverts. While every person is completely unique, there are some general behaviors that are common among introverts, such as:

  • Disliking group work
  • Preferring to write rather than talk to other people
  • Daydreaming
  • Being self-aware
  • Needing quiet to concentrate
  • Feeling comfortable being alone
  • Feeling tired after spending time in a crowd

Depending on the behavior, we can observe several types of introverts:

  • Social introverts
  • Anxious introverts
  • Restrained/inhibited introverts
  • Thinking introverts

Out of the four, anxious introverts are commonly thought to be socially anxious instead. This subtype usually seeks alone time not only because they like being alone but because they feel awkward being around other people. While introversion may not be a mental health condition, anxious introverts often look to the advantages of online counseling to improve their quality of life. However, introversion is a personality trait, it is a part of who you are. While you may be able to improve the quality of your life by undergoing therapy, you will never be able to change yourself into an extrovert.

What is social anxiety?

Unlike introversion, social anxiety is a mental health condition. Also referred to as social phobia, social anxiety is a long-term, overwhelming, fear of social situations. This fear (or lack of it) is what makes someone an introvert or socially anxious. Most people tend to develop social anxiety during their teenage years. Luckily, most people with social anxiety get better as they get older. However, some people may require online behavioral therapy to get rid of their social anxiety. Some people might never be able to overcome their anxiety but they can learn to manage it through therapy.

person sitting and holding his head representing being introvert or socailly anxious
Socially anxious people have an overwhelming fear of social situations.

If you are socially anxious, you might exhibit one or all of the following behaviors:

  • Feeling anxious about embarrassing yourself in public
  • Feeling frustrated because you can’t connect with others in a way that you want
  • Fixating on the possibility of making a social slip-up (forgetting someone’s name, sneezing at an inopportune time, etc.)
  • Avoiding interacting with people that you don’t know very well

People who are socially anxious usually want to join the crowd and mingle but they are afraid or nervous about their reception. They fear rejection, mockery, being judged, and not being able to live up to the expectations of other people. In fact, some people might experience these same fears simply by thinking about social situations.

Introvert or Socially Anxious – What’s the Difference?

The reason why many people consider introversion and social anxiety to be the same is the fact that both can exhibit similar behaviors. If a person is afraid of hanging out with other people, it can be quite difficult to tell whether they are introverted or socially anxious, after all. However, the primary difference between introversion and social anxiety is the fact that introversion is a character trait while social anxiety is a mental health condition. If you are an introvert, there is nothing you can do about it. On the other hand, you can always undergo the best online therapy for teens if you suffer from social anxiety in your teenage years. There are many other differences that can be observed, such as:

  • Introversion is something you are born with
  • Social anxiety gets in your way, introversion is your way
  • Social anxiety has a fear of being revealed

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Furthermore, most socially anxious people are overly concerned with their performance in a social setting. They think they will either epically fail or achieve a flawless “performance”. In other words, their social acumen is usually black or white. Needless to say, this creates an overwhelming amount of pressure that usually paralyzes socially anxious people and makes them avoid social events.

two people in blue hazy lighting facing each other
Introversion and social anxiety might look similar, but they are completely different.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three biggest differences between being introverted and socially anxious.

Introversion is something you are born with

As mentioned previously, introversion is a character trait, meaning that you are born with it. On the other side, social anxiety is something that is learned throughout one’s life. People who develop social anxiety tend to learn (mistakenly) that their behavior does not measure up to the scrutiny of others. They grow up believing that all the people around them will judge their every action and that they will find them lacking in some way. This leads to the second important facet of social anxiety: Avoidance. Once a person with social anxiety thinks that people are going to judge them in a negative way, they tend to avoid any social interaction. Over time, socially anxious people develop numerous ways to avoid social interactions, such as feigning illness, staring at their phones, hiding in the bathroom, etc.

It can be extremely difficult to get rid of social anxiety. Usually, a person who is socially anxious will need to undergo therapy such as DBT to learn how to manage their anxiety. However, since in-person therapy may trigger many anxious behaviors, many people choose to undergo the best online DBT therapy instead. An online environment dampens the effect of anxiety and has the potential to be even more beneficial than traditional, in-person, therapy.

Social anxiety gets in your way, introversion is your way

Another key difference between being an introvert and being socially anxious is fear. Introverts are not afraid of social interactions, they just feel energy-drained by them. People with social anxiety, on the other hand, fear that they will not live up to other people’s expectations, say something stupid, or be judged for who they are.

When an introvert wishes to leave a social event, it is usually because they want to be doing something else. A person with social anxiety usually wishes to remain at the event but their anxiety gets in the way. This usually leads to bouts of depression, as the socially anxious person is blaming themselves for not being as “strong” as they wish to be. Luckily, there are solutions to this problem, such as therapy. A socially anxious person can either undergo the best online therapy for depression to minimize the effects of their anxiety, or they can undergo another form of therapy to make them more capable of controlling their fears and emotions.

Social anxiety has a fear of being revealed

Most, if not all, people that have social anxiety believe that there is something inherently wrong with them. They may believe that their handshake is too awkward, that they turn red when they talk about anything uncomfortable, or that whenever they speak someone will think them being stupid. Some socially anxious people even picture themselves in a very unfavorable light whenever they are forced into a social situation. The problem is that all of these beliefs turn into fears. A socially anxious person usually fears that others will realize that something is wrong with them. This, in turn, further fuels their anxiety and makes them paralyzed even more.

person hiding in a cardboard box
A socially anxious person fears that their anxiety might be revealed.

Introverts, on the other hand, have no such problems. An introvert does not fear being judged or found lacking by other people. They believe that what you see is what you get. In other words, they do not fear revealing anything because they have nothing to hide.

Is it possible to be both introverted and socially anxious at the same time?

Yes. This is a large part of why many people consider introversion and social anxiety to be one and the same. Introverts, by default, feel drained by too much social interaction, instead of being afraid of it, but that does not mean they are immune to social anxiety. Most introverts have absolutely no problem spending time with others, provided they have enough energy to do so and they know that they can leave whenever they feel like it. However, it is quite common that introverts also take note of how people are reacting to them and start thinking about it more and more. By doing this, they may develop social anxiety just like anyone else.

The best way to figure out whether you are an introvert or not is to simply take an online introvert/extrovert test. Figuring out whether you have social anxiety or not can be a bit more challenging. The key difference between social anxiety and introversion is fear. If you notice that you are spending a lot of time worrying about how others perceive you, you might have a degree of social anxiety. Do note that thinking about how people look at you is perfectly normal unless you are obsessing about it in a way. If your bouts of worrying are frequent and more intensive, however, it is likely that you are developing (or have already developed) social anxiety.

Dealing with introversion and social anxiety

Having to live with social anxiety, being an introvert or not, can be quite challenging. However, there are numerous ways that you can use to help yourself overcome it. For example, you may try developing skills that will improve your resilience, or you can try professional therapy. Introverts, on the other hand, may want to learn how to be assertive. In both cases, it is highly beneficial to at least talk to a professional therapist. If you are uncomfortable with visiting the therapist’s office in person, you can always attend online therapy sessions.

  • By working with your therapist, you will be able to:
  • Get support while working through your fears
  • Learn skills that can help you navigate social situations
  • Practice challenging and reframing your anxious thoughts
  • Receive guidance on how to manage your fears in productive ways

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Finding a quality therapist might be difficult, however, regardless of the fact whether you are introvert or socially anxious. The easiest way to find the best online therapists around you is to browse and explore the Consumer Opinion Guide. Our expert articles will provide you with any information you may need to make the best choice, allow you to make a comprehensive cost comparison, and much more!

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