Social Anxiety vs General Anxiety: What’s the Difference?

social anxiety girl with head in hands

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in the United States. Not only do they negatively affect your mood, but anxiety disorders also diminish your quality of life.

With this in mind, it is important that you get treatment as soon as possible. The problem is that sometimes it can be hard to recognize the symptoms.

Are you experiencing some of the symptoms of anxiety? Is it hard for you to leave the house or interact with people? If so, you may be suffering from social anxiety or general anxiety.

Before seeing a psychologist, take some time to figure out the difference between social anxiety vs general anxiety. It might be the difference between waiting several years or getting help immediately.

An Overview of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder causes fear, worry, and other symptoms that can be very hard to deal with. General anxiety disorder and social anxiety are two different kinds of the disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is the fear that others will laugh at or embarrass you in social situations. People with this type of anxiety disorder will not go to social gatherings like parties. They do not date or do public speaking. Any activity that involves being around many people is avoided.

General anxiety is excessive worrying and fearfulness. This is due to outside sources but does not necessarily include social situations. Those who have general anxiety will worry about things such as money, health, work, and family.

Symptoms and Signs

The typical symptoms and signs of social anxiety can include

  • fear of being embarrassed
  • sweating
  • a racing heart
  • blushing
  • fear of saying something stupid or wrong

People with social anxiety may avoid social settings or feel uncomfortable in certain ones.

General anxiety symptoms and signs can include

  • racing thoughts
  • restlessness
  • trouble focusing
  • anger
  • trouble sleeping
  • tight muscles

General anxiety is generally a response to a certain situation or stressor. It can show up in obvious ways when the person is in a stressful situation.

Key Difference Between Social Anxiety and General Anxiety

Social anxiety is the fear of being around other people and interacting with them. It is often caused by the fear of being judged by others. General anxiety is a much wider term that includes feelings of dread, fear, and worry about big parts of life, like money, family, relationships, work, etc.

The main difference between social anxiety and general anxiety is where the focus is. With social anxiety, the focus is on something outside of yourself, while with general anxiety, the focus is on something inside of yourself.

People with social anxiety worry that they will be judged, have to do something in front of other people or feel embarrassed or uncomfortable in a social setting.

With general anxiety, the source of the fear could be anything from presenting a project at work to speaking in front of a big crowd to playing a team sport.

Treatments That Can Help Ease Symptoms of Both Anxiety Disorders

The good news is that anxiety can be treated. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), pharmacotherapy, and creative therapies like art and music are all ways to treat both types of anxiety conditions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT can help people notice and challenge negative thoughts, learn how to deal with problems, and get used to being in social settings.


This treatment option uses drugs like antidepressants, beta-blockers, and agents that make you feel less anxious.

Creative Therapy

Creative therapies help people feel more in charge and in charge of their lives by letting them share their feelings through art or music.

No matter what kind of anxiety illness someone has, these treatments can help ease their symptoms and help them live a healthier, more productive life. If you think you might have or know someone with general or social anxiety disorder , you can rest assured that there is hope for the future.

Causes and Risk Factors

Social anxiety and general anxiety are different in how they start and what makes them more likely to happen. Social anxiety is more likely to happen if you have had a bad childhood, have low self-esteem, or are too sensitive to criticism.

Genes, certain medications, an emotionally traumatic event, or a background of physical trauma can all put you at risk for general anxiety. It’s important to realize that there are different types of anxiety disorders with varying ways of approach and action.

Mental Health Strategies for Managing Social and General Anxiety

Mental health workers have come up with different ways to deal with both social anxiety and general anxiety.

Some ways to deal with social anxiety are to change the way you think about it, use relaxation techniques, and do things in person, like work on a problem as a group or play a part. For general anxiety, healthy lifestyle habits like exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet, as well as the relaxation techniques listed above, can help.

It is also important to talk to a mental health professional for more advice and specialized tactics. By knowing the difference between social anxiety and general anxiety and using the techniques for each, people can better understand and deal with their worries.

Learning to Manage Social Anxiety vs General Anxiety

Overall, you shouldn’t take the difference between social anxiety and general anxiety lightly. Social anxiety can make it hard to do things or stop you from doing things, but general worry can be even worse in the long run.

People with either of these problems should talk to a mental health professional to get a good diagnosis and treatment plan. Talk to a mental health worker near you today to find out more about social anxiety vs general anxiety and how to tell them apart.

Check out our other blog posts for more health and lifestyle tips.

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Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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