Most people unfamiliar with anxiety see it as just a simple case of the nerves. Those of us who live with anxiety know it is much more than that.

Anxiety is similar to fear, yet very different. Let me explain. Fear is a rational emotional response to a real threat. Anxiety is an irrational emotional response to an imagined threat. However it feels very real to those of us who suffer with anxiety on a daily basis.

Example: Imagine you are walking down a dark deserted road and you turn around to see a man coming at you with a gun. This is real... this is fear.

Now imagine you are walking down a familiar street in broad daylight and you imagine some disaster is about to happen, to you, and without warning. There is no visual threat, it is all imagined, though very real in the mind of a person suffering anxiety. This is imagined... this is anxiety.

Social anxiety or social phobia is often misdiagnosed. Often, you are just labeled as being shy.

“Oh, you are just shy?” Are you sick and tired of hearing that? Are you wondering what is wrong with you? Do you feel like no one understands? You are not alone!

I lived with “shyness” all my life. Everyone told me to just “get over it.” I wanted to scream! Something is wrong with me! I can't just get over it!

Then I got older. The problem with my “shyness” got worse. Other symptoms started to arise. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and many others.

If you are still wondering if you are just shy, or if it is something more, maybe this will help.

Do you worry for days, weeks, months about an event you have to attend?
Do you immediately start coming up with excuses not to attend an event?
Do you have an extreme fear of being judged by others?
Do you have extreme fear of talking to strangers?
Do you find it extremely hard to post in forums, newsgroups, use an instant messenger, or any form of conversation online?
Do you find it almost impossible to use the phone?
Do you panic when someone knocks on your door? Do you even get nauseous and not answer it?
Do you avoid going to the store?

Some of these you may do, some you may not, and there may be other things you do or avoid that is not on this list. It should give you some points to ponder. Notice a couple of key words in the examples above. Extreme and Avoid.

Someone who is shy may blush when meeting someone new. Someone with social anxiety may also blush when meeting someone new. However, this person may also feel nauseous, light headed, and tremble. Their heart might race, they may sweat excessively, their mouth and throat may get extremely dry, they may have panic feelings and want to find the nearest exit.

It is imperative for anyone with these kinds of feelings seek professional assistance.

Author's Bio: 

I have been living with Social Anxiety all of my life, though misdiagnosed until late adulthood. I now share my daily struggles in hopes to help someone along the way.