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Shyness or depression?

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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.

Shyness or depression?

Answered by on -


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

Shyness or depression?

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Shyness or depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 16, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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