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Social Anxiety: Is It a Personality Disorder?

There is some confusion about whether social anxiety disorder is a personality disorder or not. It’s not. It can lead to avoidant personality disorder which is a personality disorder that looks a lot like social anxiety. However, an avoidant personality disorder is characterized by being much worse and debilitating.

social anxiety disorder

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This is part two of a four-part series on social anxiety. Here are parts one, three, and four.

Most people with a social anxiety disorder are still able to participate in society, get help through therapy or coaching for their issues, and work through it. But, someone with an avoidant personality disorder may be unable to get help.

This is due to how bad their anxiety is associated with being around people. They may never be able to get help if they can’t trust others.

The best thing to do is to find professional help. If you can be coached to move past your fears, then you can avoid having or developing a personality disorder. However, understand that many personality disorders are genetic.

Traumatic Event

Personality disorders can also be caused by some form of traumatic event in childhood or even adulthood. This past trauma affects you so severely, you don’t want to be around people and are terrified of being around people.


Likewise, shyness is not social anxiety. It’s true that many people who have social anxiety are shy. But many shy people do not have a social anxiety disorder at all. They’re just shy. Being shy means that you feel fearful and awkward around other people.

Usually, when a person is shy, they can warm up to people as they get to know them. A person with a social anxiety disorder doesn’t often feel better just because they know someone. They still feel uncomfortable and fearful of social situations even when they know the people.

They may even get more nervous and uncomfortable because a person with social anxiety overanalyzes everything. Regardless of whether you’re shy, have a social anxiety disorder, or have a true personality disorder, if you’re experiencing these things, it’s important to seek help so that you can overcome it and deal with it.

Social Anxiety Disorder Resources

For more information about social anxiety disorder, you can go to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website.

Here are a few books that may be beneficial:

The Anxiety and Worry Workbook by David A. Clark and Aaron T. Beck

Thriving With Social Anxiety by Hattie C. Cooper

The Solution to Social Anxiety by Aziz Gazipura

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties concerning the accuracy, applicability of its contents or any omissions.

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