What is shyness?

Most people are slightly apprehensive and self-conscious when they meet people for the first time. Some are more timid than others however, once they are engaged in conversation the initial apprehension fades away and they begin to relax and enjoy themselves.

Sometimes the initial shyness does not fade away and the level of discomfort increases to the point that the person becomes very anxious. The level of anxiety can increase to the point that a full-blown panic attack develops. Over time this can develop into a condition known as social phobia.

How can shyness affect me?

If you are shy you may be a little reluctant to become the centre of attraction when in company. You may feel uncomfortable when being introduced to people for the first time or perhaps you are a little embarrassed about eating or drinking in public. Maybe you are shy about undressing in a team dressing room or putting on a pair of swimming shorts at the seaside. However shyness does not stop you from engaging in these activities. You may feel a little uncomfortable at first but you just get on with it.

Do I need to see a doctor or psychologist?

Shyness is normal and should not require a visit to your GP or a psychologist. Sometimes a shy person might like to be more confident in a social setting and could benefit from assertiveness or social skills training. Such training is often available through night classes or local community based groups. If however if shyness is stopping you from meeting people or if it appears to be increasing to a very uncomfortable level then you might like to consider going for professional help.

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