Growing awareness and reduced stigma around mental health is undoubtedly a positive thing, but this increasing recognition has come with plenty of misconceptions around what different mental health conditions actually involve.
A US woman has summed up this issue in one stellar Tweet that has since gone viral.
“Social anxiety is not “omggg I love netflix and I hate everyone”,” she wrote. “It’s longing to go to social situations that are easy for other people, wanting to use your voice, but feeling stifled, feeling trapped in your thoughts and so much more.”
The tweet has been liked nearly 250,000 times and re-tweeted over 70,000 times, with many anxiety sufferers sharing their experiences in the comments.
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is not just shyness, awkwardness or introversion, it’s a chronic and debilitating fear of social situations. It’s completely normal to feel nervous when interacting with strangers or public speaking, but this experience is vastly different to a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder and misusing the term minimises what actual sufferers go through.
According to Beyond Blue, research suggests that 10 per cent of the Australian population experiences social phobia in a lifetime, with 4.7 per cent experiencing social phobia in a 12-month period. It's important to note that the condition is treatable and seeking professional support is the first step to recovery.