Shyness or depression?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Hi, I’m 17 years old and I’m a senior in high school. Ever since I was a child I have always been very shy and soft spoken but now that I’m older it’s no longer cute and acceptable; it has taken a toll on the way my life has played out. I am aware that along the way something caused me to be this way, but I have not been able to figure out exactly what that was. I currently have no friends what so ever. It hurts me because I actually consider myself to be a “cool” person and nobody can really see that in me. I think it has gone beyond shyness at this point and I want to get over it in order to move forward in my life and be fulfilled. In others’ eyes I am boring and I feel like I am a burden to talk to and not really worth anyone’s time. I find that I have a hard time just maintaining conversation and thinking on my feet. I am very awkward and it doesn’t help that I am so guarded. How do I get over my dramatic shyness? My life is miserable. I try not to cry because I am holding it all inside. I am lonely and I think I may be developing some form of depression. No one knows how I feel because I have no one to talk to and I would be too embarrassed and ashamed to admit my situation to anyone.

A: Although your shyness is pervasive I applaud the fact that you were able to push past it to ask this question. That already bodes well for your strength of character and resilience.

It is hard to know if the shyness may be feeding the depression or visa versa, but I think the first place to start is with Dr. Phil Zimbardo’s book on shyness and taking the Henderson/Zimbardo shyness questionare This can help you understand more about your experience.

Secondly, I would look into mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) for social anxiety disorder. Here is a wonderful information video on this technique you may like. You may be able to find a therapist familiar with this through the find help tab above.

I would also recommend a medication assessment with a psychiatrist. The chances are there may be some help available for the anxiety and depression.

The combination of these approaches, reading, meditation, therapy, and medicine should help.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Shyness or depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/17/shyness-or-depression/