Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety?

By Danielle Boland, LCSW

Extrovert and introvert are terms used to describe a person’s preference for socializing. Does this mean you have to be solely one or the other? No, many people have traits from both categories and may draw from one more than the other, depending on the situation. 

In some cases, people who identify as extroverts may even experience symptoms of social anxiety, despite their preference for social situations. 

Extroversion vs. Introversion

Extroverts are people who tend to seek and prefer stimulation from outside factors, such as people and places. Extroverts are more likely to

  • Naturally be drawn to be in a leadership role
  • Thrive off of collaboration
  • Enjoy being in a group
  • Try new things 
  • Talk about problems to find a solution
  • Enjoy different perspectives
  • Easily express thoughts and feelings to others
  • Be more optimistic
  • Be energized by the company of others
  • Make new friends easily

Introverts are normally thought of as quiet people, and the word introvert may have a negative connotation. Being an introvert means someone recharges in and prefers situations with more solitude. Introverts tend to:

  • Avoid conflict 
  • Be more sensitive to criticism
  • Prefer to respond to things via writing vs. verbally
  • Be more creative
  • Be good listeners
  • Prefer quiet time
  • Energized by time alone
  • Have fewer, but meaningful friendships

Many people fall between an introvert and extrovert, with qualities in both categories. Introverts may do well at public speaking, while extroverts can have social anxiety. It’s important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules about being an introvert or extrovert, and anyone can fall in between both. 

What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is more than just being shy. Social anxiety is an intense and deep-rooted fear of being judged negatively by others and can keep someone from interacting with others to avoid this from happening. Social anxiety can affect all aspects of someone’s life, including school, work, making friends and romantic relationships. 

Social Anxiety Causes

There is no one reason someone may have social anxiety over someone else. Several factors influence someone’s likelihood of developing social anxiety. Some studies theorize that social anxiety is genetic, especially if an immediate family member has social anxiety.

Social anxiety can also be the result of someone’s environment. If someone was bullied as a child or experienced something traumatic in a social setting, they may develop social anxiety. Those who were abused, neglected or felt over-criticized in their homes may also be more prone to social anxiety.

Social Anxiety Symptoms

Social anxiety may show up differently depending on the person. Common signs or symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Physical discomfort in public such as rapid heart rate, sweating, blushing or trembling
  • Feeling self-conscious in social situations
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Difficulty speaking to people you don’t know in public
  • Speaking softly in social situations
  • Rigid posture
  • Intense fear of speaking with others
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Anxiety in anticipation of a social situation
  • Over analyzing interactions with people
  • Harshly judging self after being around others

Can Extroverts Have Social Anxiety?

Being an extrovert means that you are energized by interacting with others. Imagine loving being with people but also having severe anxiety that causes you to analyze all of your interactions. You may constantly fear that the very people you want to be with may not accept you.

Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder and is separate from being an extrovert, which is a personality trait. Being an extrovert with social anxiety may mean that instead of being present or in the moment when socializing with others, you worry about your words, actions, and the potential of being judged. An introvert with social anxiety will feel safe and happy at home; meanwhile, an extrovert feels a need to be around others, but feels drained after these interactions due to their constant anxiety. 

Signs of Social Anxiety in Extroverts

Social anxiety will present differently for introverts and extroverts. While introverts may feel anxious in situations where they are not physically around people, such as someone not responding to a text fast enough or calling someone to make plans, extroverts are anxious in social situations. Extroverts may:

  • Feel constantly judged
  • Be shy 
  • Worry that everyone around them is having a good time 
  • Feel down when they are alone but worry about being around others
  • Overthink their interactions
  • Fear  missing out or not being included
  • Cancel plans last minute

Tips For Coping With Social Anxiety As An Extrovert

As an extrovert, it can be challenging to feel like you want to be out and among people but also have a lot of anxiety in those situations. You can use these tools to feel less anxious in social situations. 

Educate Yourself

If you have always thought of yourself as an extrovert or just love being around others, it can also be very confusing and frustrating to feel a lot of anxiety when you’re out and not know why. Learning more about what it means to be an extrovert and what anxiety disorders are, specifically social anxiety, can help you understand why you feel the way you do. 

Know Your Triggers

One way to help understand and conquer social anxiety is to know your triggers. Triggers can be anything that sparks your anxiety and then makes it difficult to reign it back in. For example, a trigger for social anxiety for an extrovert can be when people you are talking to go off to talk amongst themselves without you. If this makes you anxious and you are aware of it, you can rationalize with yourself before the anxiety gets the best of you. 

Surround Yourself With People You Trust

Being an extrovert with social anxiety can mean  you want to go out and feel safe but also don’t know how to create an environment that feels that way. If you have a group of friends or people you are comfortable being around and trusting, make it a point to go out with these people or make plans with them. You can be in a setting with more people, but having your core group that you trust will make it feel less intimidating. 

Practice Breathing Techniques

When someone is experiencing anxiety, sometimes it can feel like there is no relief in sight. Practicing breathing techniques can be very helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms in the moment. 

Focusing on the inhale and exhale of your breath for a few minutes can distract you from the anxiety of being out among people. It can also help lower your heart rate, which becomes elevated when you’re anxious. The more you practice breathing techniques when you are not anxious, the easier you will use this coping skill in a situation that makes you feel anxious.

Get Professional Help

If you cannot get a hold of your social anxiety on your own, getting professional advice may be a good next step. Therapy can help you learn various techniques to identify and understand your anxiety triggers and coping skills for feeling anxious.

To have support anywhere you are, the Nobu App has free resources to help you manage social anxiety symptoms, including mindfulness tools and mental health lessons; for an added fee, you can speak with a licensed therapist during online teletherapy. If you or a loved one suffers from social anxiety, download the Nobu App today.

Edited by – Theresa Valenzky

Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life… Read more.

danielle boland headshot

Written by – Danielle Boland, LCSW

Danielle is a licensed clinical social worker, currently living and practicing in central Connecticut. Danielle graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a Masters of Social Work, and always had the goal of opening her own private practice. She specializes in women’s issues, maternal health and postpartum mental health.

dr angela phillips

Medically Reviewed by – Dr. Angela Phillips

Angela is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher, and has worked in public, private, government, and not-for-profit organizations, across clinical and research-oriented roles. Angela’s clinical and research experience has included suicide prevention, cognitive behavioral… Read more.