Social anxiety can be difficult to define because it can manifest in different ways for different people. In general, social anxiety is characterized by feelings of intense fear or nervousness in social situations, such as meeting new people, public speaking, or attending parties. These fears can lead to avoidance of these situations altogether. For some people, social anxiety may also include physical symptoms like sweating, heart palpitations, or dizziness.
There are a number of conditions that can mimic social anxiety disorder (SAD), including other types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and specific phobias. Depression is another condition that can share similar symptoms with SAD. It’s important to seek professional help to accurately diagnose SAD so that appropriate treatment can be started.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
People with AvPD often have trouble forming and maintaining close relationships due to their fear of rejection and humiliation. They may seem cold and distant to others, even those whom they are close to. They may also have difficulty expressing their own emotions (alexithymia).
AvPD typically begins in adolescence or young adulthood and is more common in women than men. It is estimated that 1-2% of the general population suffers from AvPD. Although there is no cure for the disorder, it can be effectively treated with therapy and medication.
Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, numbness or tingling, and feelings of impending doom. During a panic attack, people may feel like they are going to die or lose control of themselves. Panic attacks typically last for several minutes, and can be very frightening.
After a panic attack subsides, people may feel exhausted and shaken up. They may worry about having another attack and avoid situations where they think an attack could occur. This can lead to significant problems with work, school or social activities.
Panic disorder is treatable with medication and therapy.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
While it’s normal to feel some anxiety from time to time, people with GAD find it hard to control their worry and it interferes with their daily lives. If you have GAD you may avoid situations that make you anxious or end up doing them but feeling very stressed while doing so. You may also experience physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat and dizziness.
GAD can be treated with medication and/or therapy. If you think you might have GAD it’s important to see a mental health professional for an evaluation so treatment can be started if necessary.
Alcoholism is a serious problem that can mimic social anxiety. People who are struggling with alcoholism may avoid social situations, withdraw from friends and family, and drink excessively. Alcoholism can cause people to feel anxious, depressed, and irritable. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, it is important to seek help from a medical professional or treatment center.
Eating disorders are a type of mental illness that can mimic the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. People with eating disorders often become preoccupied with food and their body weight. They may diet excessively, exercise compulsively, or binge eat. This can lead to feelings of isolation, shame, and low self-esteem. People with eating disorders may avoid social situations for fear of being judged or ridiculed. This can make it difficult to maintain relationships and participate in activities they enjoy. Treatment for eating disorders typically includes therapy, support groups, and medication.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel, and be have clearly. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. They may hear voices or see things that don’t exist. Delusions and hallucinations are common in people with schizophrenia.
What causes Schizophrenia?
The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of schizophrenia are more likely to develop the disorder than those without such a history. Other risk factors include exposure to viruses or toxins during pregnancy, certain psychoactive drugs, stress, and poverty.