Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety? 9 Signs & 10 Coping Strategies

Jun 27, 20246 min
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Mave
Clinical Psychologist
 Extroverts Have Social Anxiety - Lifestyle of people suffering from emotional numbness

Mehak is considered the “life of the party” among her friends. She loves to go out, socialize with people, and seek new experiences. She is confident, speaks her mind clearly, and often takes initiative at work and in her personal life.

People gravitate towards them for advice because of her worldly and wise ways of living. So, when one day she confided in her close friends that she struggles with social anxiety, it came as a huge shock to them. 

But first,

What is Social Anxiety? 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), social anxiety is characterized by an intense fear and anxiety about social situations. The person struggling with social anxiety is preoccupied with how others perceive them – they worry about negative scrutiny, evaluation, and judgment of others.  

A person struggling with social anxiety are hyperaware of other people as they fear being observed, humiliated, and rejected. For example, one may worry too much about how others are judging their appearance, mannerisms, etc. 

Such an individual may either go to great lengths to avoid social interactions or endure them with great difficulty. While everybody’s capacity to socialize fluctuates for multiple reasons, individuals with social anxiety may spend a significant amount of time worrying and avoiding social situations, leading to difficulties in various areas of their lives. 

So how can someone as bold and confident as Mehak experience social anxiety? She is so good with people! She loves to network and socialize. Mehak seems like someone you would call a typical extrovert. Let’s first quickly understand about introversion and extroversion. 

Defining Introversion and Extroversion

Introversion and extroversion are personality traits that exist on a continuum, and most people fall somewhere between the scale. However, most people do see themselves leaning one way or the other.

The main difference between introversion and extroversion is how people respond to the social stimuli around them. Introverts are often content with minimal social stimulation – they enjoy talking to close friends, and doing solo activities and have a high need for solitude. 

Extroverts thrive in situations where it required to engage extensively with other people, like leading work meetings, public speaking, and going to parties and social events (Cain, 2012 as cited in Schmidt, 2016). While introverts often need time to rest and recharge after attending social gatherings, extroverts are energized by them.

So, when you think about Mehak as an extrovert, of course, it does not make sense that she struggles with social anxiety. 

Shouldn’t she feel best at social gatherings? 

Why is she feeling so anxious at places that should bring joy, excitement, and energy as per her personality style? This leads us to the question, 

Can you be an Extrovert with Social Anxiety (Science Backed!)?

Short answer, yes. You can be an extrovert with social anxiety. You see, social anxiety is less about an individual’s personality style and more about their worry about (real or perceived) judgment of other people in social settings.

Even someone as outgoing as Mehak, who truly enjoys socializing, can experience significant anxiety due to the fear of being judged by others. For instance, when her friends inquired about her experience with social anxiety, she described how she worries that some people dislike her, talk about her behind her back, and criticize her lifestyle choices. While she wants to socialize, the distress that accompanies it makes every social interaction a tough rope to walk. 

9 Signs You're An Extrovert With Social Anxiety

Do you identify with Mehak’s dilemma of wanting to socialize but being fearful of the judgment of other people? 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of signs that you may be an extrovert with social anxiety:

  1. You like to go to social events but are worried about what others are thinking about you
  2. You conceal your true emotions, thoughts, and actions to belong in a group but others see you as a confident person. 
  3. You experience physical signs of anxiety, like increased heart rate, sweating, palpitations, and visceral body sensations while talking to other people.  
  4. You're caught between the desire to connect socially and the fear of being rejected by others.
  5. You frequently ask others what they think about you and seek reassurance and feedback about your behaviour in social settings.
  6. You may prefer familiar and comfortable social environments, or go to extreme lengths to prepare for an event beforehand.
  7. You might excessively worry about your social status, and spend a lot of resources in keeping up appearances. 
  8. Even when enjoying yourself, you struggle to stay present due to concerns about how others perceive you.
  9. You may anticipate upcoming social events with dread, despite your enjoyment of socializing.

It's important to recognize that feelings of social anxiety exist on a spectrum and are different from a clinical diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. If you need support, consider reaching out to a mental healthcare provider so that they can offer insights and strategies for your unique needs. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you are worthy of compassion and support.

10 Tips for Coping with Social Anxiety as an Extrovert: Strategies for Social Connections

Navigating social anxiety can be uniquely challenging for extroverts who thrive on social interactions. Here are nine practical tips to help you manage social anxiety while maintaining meaningful connections:

1.Know your anxiety 

Acceptance is the first step to recovery. Spend some time understanding what social anxiety looks like for you and pay attention to any feelings that come with it. Read Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms and Feelings

2.tDCS for Social Anxiety Disorder

Transcranial direct current stimulation devices have shown promise in treating anxiety disorders, including Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Research suggests that tDCS can reduce symptom severity in anxiety disorders by stimulating the cerebral cortex, particularly through excitatory stimulation of the left prefrontal cortex and inhibitory stimulation of the right prefrontal cortex. Combining tDCS with psychological interventions has also shown efficacy in managing depressive and anxiety symptoms, with promising results in clinical practice. While tDCS alone has shown effectiveness, combining it with pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy may enhance its therapeutic potential for anxiety disorders like SAD 

It's crucial to consult a doctor or mental health professional before considering tDCS.

3.Set realistic expectations

You do not have to say yes to every social engagement that comes your way or be the center of attention all the time. It is okay to decline events, show up as you are, and take a step once in a while.  

4.Go to therapy

Therapy can help you to understand what factors play a role in your social anxiety and how to manage them better. Check out Mave Health’s Therapy Club! – India’s largest mental health platform that makes good mental health a priority. Find a professional on Mave Health who can meet your needs and start your mental health journey today. 

5.Strengthen your self-esteem

One of the reasons we are so worried about how others perceive us is that we entangle our sense of worthiness with evaluations of other people. It may lead us to internalize these judgments without determining if they are true or relevant to us at all. Creating some space between self and others helps us to feel more in control and make authentic choices whilst incorporating feedback. 

6.Practice relaxation techniques 

Before social events, engage in practices like meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, visualization, or progressive muscle relaxation techniques to help relax your mind and body. You may also find it helpful to speak affirmations like “I am worthy as I am” to get the boost of confidence you need. Also, we covered a few tricks to relax 5-4-3-2-1 grounding techniques and the 333 rule for anxiety

7.Build Relational Skills

Mastering relational skills such as effective communication, setting boundaries, and the ability to navigate conflicts and repairs, enables us to cultivate relationships that honor each person's authenticity without the need for anyone to compromise themselves.

8.Pursue your interests and hobbies

Engage in hobbies and activities that genuinely interest you and provide opportunities to connect with others in a relaxed environment. Doing so can enhance your confidence and make social interactions more enjoyable.

9.Seek support from loved ones

Our friends and family can be an invaluable resource in managing social anxiety by offering practical help, reassurance, and companionship in our treatment journey. 

We’ve Covered How Online Therapy Can Transform You with Social Anxiety?

10.Join a support group

A support group for people with social anxiety can make us feel seen and understood in our struggles with social anxiety. Knowing that there are people with similar concerns as ours can give us the strength, resources, and motivation we need. 

These strategies can help you cultivate fulfilling social connections while managing the impact of social anxiety as an extrovert. For more support, connect with a mental health professional today. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, extroverts can struggle with social anxiety. While seemingly contradictory to the personality style, the conflict is not about their interest in attending the social event but the fear of being judged by other people. Know that with the right kind of support, you will be able to deal with social engagements with more ease and authenticity. 

References

American Psychiatric Association, D. S. M. T. F., & American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (Vol. 5, No. 5). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness. National Institute of Health (NIH).

Schmidt, S. J. (2016). Personality diversity: extrovert and introvert temperaments. Journal of Food Science Education15(3), 73-74.

Author's Profile picture
Mave
Clinical Psychologist
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