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Born Shy? Is Shyness a Form of Autism or Other Mental Disorder? - A Raleigh Psychiatrist Weighs In


Millions of people suffer from shyness, and some of those shy people develop severe anxieties and social phobias. Shyness is generally thought of as a character or personality trait according to one local Raleigh psychiatrist. It is likely that all of us have experienced shyness ourselves or know someone who is considered timid or shy at least some of the time. The causes of shyness are not fully known. Are People Just Born Shy Due to Genetics? Some mental health professionals believe that being shy can be at least partially hereditary. However, other specialists who study human behavior and developmental stages caution that having the right genetic code passed down from the parent's DNA should not be considered the only possible cause of more severe forms of shyness. People are not truly born shy as some suspect. This is because the intense fear and anxiety over feeling called out or from expecting a rejection response has its roots in a person's sense of self. People put into unfamiliar settings and situations can appear suddenly nervous or shy. Young children do not develop their brains enough to begin thinking of themselves as a separate person until approximately 18 months of age. Last time anyone checked, infants are not born being 18 months old. There have been research studies that showed varying degrees of biological differences noted in the brains of known shy individuals. This seems to suggest that people may be born with a propensity for shyness, but researches say that shyness is a result of a person's social interactions and experiences. What Is Social Anxiety? Can People with Social Anxiety Be Shy? Many people become shy when in a crowded room with people they don't know well. This is an inner fear reaction that the person probably isn't even aware of. It is common to feel shy in situations where a person is unsure of how to talk or act. The person also might wonder how the others in the space will react to them as well. These are generally social settings. The person experiencing the shyness will tend to associate their negative reaction symptoms to the people or places where the intense emotions and shyness came about. Shyness Versus Social Anxiety If these intense feelings of overwhelming panic and anxiety when in social settings are ongoing and disrupt the person's life substantially, the person might have social anxiety disorder a valid mental health diagnosis since the early 1980s. Another name used by some to describe this phenomenon is social phobia. Social anxiety disorder should only be diagnosed by an experienced psychiatrist during an in-depth psychiatric evaluation. Whether the person is proved to have a social anxiety disorder and/or shyness, there are some highly effective mental health treatments that have been successful in others. The Link Between Shyness & Autism Reviewed As with many common mental health disorders and emotional behaviors, two or more symptoms and diagnoses often overlap. For instance, shyness may be accompanied by a social anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder symptoms might indicate autism in some cases. There is a link between autism and social awkwardness. This social anxiety or awkwardness is often present. Typically, autism is first noticed and diagnosed during childhood. This disorder often becomes more evident as the child approaches the teenage years where social oddities are often ostracized by peers. Determining the Difference Between Transient Shyness & Other Issues Shyness often develops suddenly when in places or near people that are foreign to the shy person. However, these feelings of social awkwardness likely won't become so overwhelming that the individual withdraws from life and activities previously enjoyed. If this does happen, more than shyness is likely to be present. Some signs/symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Fast heart rate often skipping beats felt as palpitations

  • Dizziness or mental fog

  • Feeling lightheaded - may lose consciousness

  • Intense emotional response

  • Facial blushing or flushing

  • Sweating more

  • Nausea or vomiting and possibly intestinal cramping

  • Trembling

Signs/Symptoms of Autism include:

  • Later at reaching some childhood developmental milestones

  • Social awkwardness

  • Withdraws from people or situations when upset

  • Rocking or head-banging behaviors - usually when fearful or anxious - self-soothing attempts

  • Learning difficulties or disorders

  • Lack of confidence & poor self-esteem symptoms

  • Can have intense anger, sadness or other intense emotional responses to minor setbacks

  • Becomes anxious when the regular routine is disrupted

  • Hard to make or keep eye contact during conversations

  • May feel emotionally detached

There are effective and caring mental health treatments for shyness, social anxiety disorder, and regular shyness. Contact MedPsych anytime online via https://www.medpsychnc.com.

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Raleigh, NC 27617

Phone: 919-582-7272

Fax:  919-582-7274 OR 877-745-2672

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