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Shyness: What is it? Do I have it? Diagnosing FAQ Find Help Test Your Knowledge Speaking with a Pro
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Glossary of Terms

Diagnosing Shyness

Diagnosing Shyness is made possible by behavioral observation and some signs showen by the person (example: the child who hides his face when in front of strangers) and/or by information given by the person (example: report of hand tremor when speaking in public). Shyness has some characteristics: it happens when there is contact with another person; when the shy person performs something ( speaking, writing, singing, or interacting), there is a feeling of apprehension; the spontaneity is compromised.

These patterns can, then, appear in many, many situations, but some of them are more common: speaking in public and initiating contact with the opposite sex. In certain cases, paradoxically, the person can be spontaneous out of the house and shy with some family members.

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The diagnosis of Shyness may vary from one professional to another, as a result of the great subjectivity in the evaluation of the information that is given. So, a professional can judge a person to be a sufferer of Shyness, and another professional can judge him to be a sufferer of Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia. A person can be diagnosed as moderately shy by one professional and as very shy by another. There are even more complicated problems in diagnosis.

The variation from one professional to another cannot only be related to the grade or intensity of Shyness, but also to the diagnosis itself. Some professional do not differentiate Shyness from Social Anxiety Disorder all people who feel bad or constrained in the presence of others can be considered sufferers of Shyness or Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia. For these professionals, the signs and symptoms will determine only the degree. For example, the diagnosis can be of light Shyness, moderate Shyness, or severe Shyness; or light Social Anxiety Disorder, moderate Social Anxiety Disorder, or severe Social Phobia. On the other hand, many professionals make a distinction between Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder; that is, they consider that Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder are different things. The author of this website is included in this group.

Criteria for Diagnosing

Shyness is not a medical diagnosis; in other words, it is not a mental disorder. As it is described in this site, it does not fit in the diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia of the International Disease Classification , 10th Edition, by the World Health Organization, or in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, by the American Psychiatric Association.

To make this distinction it is necessary to use some criteria. The first one is to exclude all the disorders in which the expression Phobia is applied.

Phobia is the irrational and persistent fear of a situation, object or activity, and that generate an intense desire to avoid them. This leads the individual to face the situation, object or activity with much more fear or to avoid them.

If the individual presents irrational fear during social performing, but does not desire to avoid social situation, does not have great suffering (the anxiety is not high) and there is no significant personal prejudice, she is a sufferer of Shyness. In other words, one can say that the anxiety of such an individual in these situations is light or moderate, even when perceived by him orher and/or by others. The diagnosis then is Shyness.

However, as the psychological processes of Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder are similar, one can foresee a continuum of the anxiety that goes from a very light degree to panic . At any point of this continuum anxiety can stop being a characteristic of Shyness and become a characteristic of Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia.

Other criteria used in diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder can, by extension, be applied to Shyness once the process is very similar. The person perceives the inadequacy of his fear (this is not required when he is a child). The diagnosis in children and teens must only be made if the signs and symptoms persevere for at least six months. One must register the social situations in which the anxiety occurs, as well their number: whether in two or more (it is unusual for it to occur in only one situation). It is necessary to observe if Shyness results from some transitory medical or social conditions - for example, the teen whose parents are in the process of separating or who has a member of the family in jail. Thus, above all, it is from the information given that one makes the diagnosis of Shyness.

Is Shyness Fear or Anxiety?

Shyness: Questions and Answers

Self-actualization and Self-concept: Nucleus of Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder

Articles on Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia and Shyness:

Basic Articles:

Self-Concept/Self- Actualization – Shyness Nucleus

Self-concept, Body Image, Self-depreciation and Shyness

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Neurophysiological Approach

Shyness Articles:

What Is Shyness? Fear, Anxiety, Anguish?

Questions and Answers on Shyness

Humiliation Stories, School Spankings: Examples of Shyness Causes

Social Anxiety Disorder Articles:

Social Anxiety Disorder: What It Is, The Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Social Anxiety Attacks: Incidence, Onset, History, Evolution

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Treatment

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Differential Diagnosis

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Medications in Social Phobia: Side Effects

Antidepressants Tricyclics: Side Effects

Metabolic Pathways Individual Differences and Medications Side Effects

Genetic Changes: Medications Side Effects

First Line Antidepressants - Side Effects
Social Anxiety and Shyness Articles:

Panic Disorder, Shyness, Social Phobia - Differences

Why Self-Help in Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia Doesn�t Help You

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Medication Action

Facial Blushing, Redness of the Face, Ears and Neck

Psychoses, Shyness and Social Phobia

overcoming shyness

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