Absolutely none of the above is true, of course, but at the time it all seemed very true to me. The reality is I had a group of friends I was close to and we remained friends for many years after high school. Unpopular? Sure. I was so unpopular that I was elected Senior Class President. I’ll never remember what gave me the gumption to run in the first place,
I’ve had friends who I haven’t seen in over thirty years show up on Facebook and were shocked when they read my blog. That doesn’t sound like you at all, is the comment I get the most. Making friends is often extremely difficult for people with social anxiety disorder and to make matters worse, people with this disorder tend to assume that the friendships they do have are not of the highest quality.
The problem with this perception, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis, is that it’s not necessarily true from the point of view of their friends.
“People who are impaired by high social anxiety typically think they are coming across much worse than they really are,” said study co-author Thomas Rodebaugh, PhD, associate professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences. “This new study suggests that the same is true in their friendships.”
Much more than simple shyness, social anxiety disorder is a recognized psychiatric condition in which those struggling with the affliction often live in fear of meeting new people, passing up social invitations or work opportunities for fear of being rejected, embarrassed or otherwise singled out as a failure. That sure sounds like me, even to this day. Isolation Is all too easy for me. When I do isolate I wallow in self-pity and become angry that everyone has left me all alone. Although I have not been diagnosed specifically with social anxiety disorder, it is frequently associated with bipolar disorder.
The study finds that people with social anxiety disorder often overestimate how bad their relationships are with friends, when compared to what the friends say.
“People with social anxiety disorder report that their friendships are worse, but their friends didn’t see it the same way,” Rodebaugh said. “Their friends seem to say something more like: ‘It’s different, but not worse.’ ”
People with social anxiety disorder reported that their friendships were significantly worse (as compared to people without the disorder). These misperceptions were stronger and more prevalent among younger study participants and in situations where the friendship was relatively new, researchers found.
The friends of people with social anxiety disorder did seem to be aware that their friends were having trouble, and additionally saw the person with social anxiety disorder as less dominant in the friendship,” Rodebaugh said.
The findings could play an important role in helping people with social anxiety disorder understand that their friendships may not be as terrible as they might imagine. Helping people form friendships is in itself important, because many studies confirm that the lack of strong social networks can leave people vulnerable to a host of problems, including disease, depression and even earlier mortality, Rodebaugh said.
Source: Washington University