Social anxiety doesn’t only affect introverts. An extrovert with social anxiety can experience physical and emotional symptoms, too. Social anxiety is a mental health condition that affects millions of people, regardless of their personality type.
While it’s true that social anxiety might seem more expected in introverts, the truth is, it’s still very possible for an extrovert to develop this mental health condition as well. Introverts and extroverts will experience the effects of social anxiety differently, though.
“Anyone can have social anxiety, but the experience of social anxiety for an extrovert may look different than that of an introvert. Extroverts often greatly value being liked by others, so they may be prone to overthinking and ruminating about how they are perceived.”
We’ll explore how common it is for extroverts to suffer from social anxiety, how a socially anxious extrovert might feel in a social gathering and public settings, and some effective ways that extroverts can cope with symptoms of social anxiety.
Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety?
Can you be an extrovert with social anxiety? In short, yes. It’s possible for an extroverted person to experience social anxiety or be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Before diving deeper, let’s review what social anxiety is and look at a few key differences between extroverts and introverts.
Social anxiety is a disorder marked primarily by an excessive fear of embarrassment. It often causes avoidance of public, professional, or social gatherings.
Other symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include:
- Fear that others will judge you negatively
- Excessive anxiety about upcoming events
- Going to great lengths to avoid social interaction
- Strong fear of talking or interacting with others
- Trembling voice, shaking, sweating, or blushing
- Thinking that others are noticing you look anxious
- Avoiding situations where you’ll be the center of attention
- Extreme worry about humiliating or embarrassing yourself
Since extroverts tend to be collected, relaxed, and vibrant in social situations, being an extrovert with social anxiety can be quite challenging.
How common is it for extroverts to have social anxiety?
The CDC found that between August 2020 and February 2021, there was a jump — from 36.4% to 41.5% — in the number of adults who experienced recent symptoms of a depressive disorder or anxiety. The impact of the pandemic has caused heightened levels of societal depression as well as anxiety about socialization. This likely makes it more difficult for both socially anxious extroverts and introverts to cope with their symptoms.
It’s more common to be a socially anxious introvert, and social anxiety symptoms are seen less frequently in extroverts. That said, any person of any age, race, or personality type can develop social anxiety, including extroverts. The key difference is in how an extrovert experiences symptoms of social anxiety.
How do extroverts experience social anxiety?
Extroverts with social anxiety experience unique challenges compared to their introverted peers. If socially anxious extroverts avoid socialization, they may develop intense feelings of depression.
“Extroverts may feel a lot of pressure to constantly be ‘on’ and entertain other people. That internal expectation to entertain people or keep up a constant facade of happiness and excitement can be hard to sustain.”
Socially anxious extroverts likely spend a lot of time erroneously believing they’re being judged. Being extroverted, they want to go out and socialize. Yet being socially anxious, they might dread the very interaction they crave. Their anxiety may be more centered around a need to try and get those around them in social settings to be excited. They may become hyper-focused on others’ needs and on ensuring everyone is having a good time and enjoying themselves.
Further, it is possible for an extrovert to be shy. For them, the struggle comes from a desire to be engaged in social settings but at the same time feeling insecure about their place in those settings. The internal back and forth between what they want, need, and how they feel can be overwhelming. For some, avoiding social interaction can cause additional stress, which in turn can lead to feelings of depression, detachment, and isolation.
How to Cope with Social Anxiety as an Extrovert
Extroverts tend to force themselves to socialize. This can result in experiencing heightened anxiety reactions. Social anxiety disorder is a recognized diagnosis in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It’s common and is generally chronic. It can be a struggle to deal with whether you’re an introvert or extrovert but can be very responsive to treatment.
You can learn to anticipate, handle, and how to overcome social anxiety as an extrovert. It’ll require strength, forethought, commitment, and patience. Keep in mind, though, the process is not a race. Move at a pace you’re comfortable with and consider taking some of the following steps:
Explore resources available to you — like online therapy, online resources, and support groups — so you can learn more about social anxiety symptoms. Learning how to spot them as they arise will be key in your ability to manage your anxiety.
If you learn to enter social situations with a mindful attitude, you’ll be better equipped. You’ll watch yourself and manage your behaviors in a way that encourages your confidence and enjoyment in social settings.
Check in with yourself, often
If you’re an extrovert with social anxiety, it’s important to pay attention to your body’s cues when you’re entering into a setting that may trigger you. Paying attention to and keeping your breathing slow, deep, and intentional can help. Watch your breath, heart rate, thoughts, and emotions, and learn how to stop social anxiety symptoms even as they’re developing.
Focus on safe socialization
If you know that you both crave social interaction and fear it at the same time, be strategic about which social activity you’ll participate in. Surround yourself with people you trust, or maybe try to gather in a small group. This way, you get the socialization you need without the fear of negative judgment. Smaller groups also can mean less people to focus on if your anxiety stems from worrying about everyone else having a good time.
Get professional help
If you find that your social anxiety is getting worse, or if it’s interfering in your life, it might be time to think about getting help. A therapist or other mental health professional who specializes in treating social anxiety disorder might be your next step.
Therapists can teach you techniques that’ll help you recognize symptoms long before they have a chance to peek. With regular in person or online therapy sessions like CBT for social anxiety, you’ll become better-able to anticipate, plan for, observe, and prevent your social anxiety symptoms.
Finding the Help You Need
Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that doesn’t distinguish between extroverts and introverts. Anyone can develop signs and symptoms of social anxiety. Some can even experience social anxiety in college or even in their childhood years. Though extroverts may not be as likely to have social anxiety as introverts, when they do experience it, they deal with a different type of suffering — anxiety over others’ experiences.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert with social anxiety, there are effective treatments, from medication to therapy, available for you to deal with and manage your disorder. There are also self-help techniques you can learn and practice that can be very helpful.
It might take a strong personal commitment to overcome your anxiety, and you may want the help of a skilled therapist who can teach you how to approach and participate in social activities without the fear. At the end of the day it’ll all be worth it, as you can enjoy your social life once again.
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