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Difference Between Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression

Mood disorders include sadness and anxiety, but depression results in a variety of emotions, including melancholy, despair, and low energy. Anxiety produces uneasiness, concern, or fear. You can have both circumstances at the same time even if they are distinct.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

It is a long-term mental illness when social situations lead to unreasonable worry. Social contacts in daily life trigger unreasonable feelings of dread, anxiety, self-consciousness, and shame in those who suffer from social anxiety disorder. Excessive dread of being judged, worry about shame or embarrassment, or worry about offending someone are other symptoms.

What is Depression?

Depression is a type of mood illness that results in a chronically depressing and uninteresting state. Variously referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, it has an impact on one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour and can result in a range of psychological and medical issues. You could find it difficult to go about your daily business and occasionally you might think life isn’t worth living.

Depression is more than just a bad case of the blues, and it’s not something you can “snap out” of. Treatment for depression may need to be ongoing. Don’t give up though. The majority of depressed individuals respond better to medication, psychotherapy, or both.

Similarity between Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression

Both health conditions, there are some common symptoms like difficulty with thinking, concentration and decision-making.

Difference between Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression

Definition of Social Anxiety Disorder vs Depression

Social Anxiety Disorder 

Social Anxiety Disorder is an enduring and overpowering dread of social situations.

It is a prevalent issue that typically initiates during adolescence. It can be extremely distressing and have a significant impact on one’s life.

While it may improve with age for some individuals, for many others, it persists without intervention.


Major depressive disorder (also known as depression) is a widespread psychological condition. It entails a despondent mood or a lack of enjoyment or interest in activities for extended periods.

Depression differs from normal fluctuations in mood and feelings about everyday life. It can affect every aspect of one’s life, including relationships with family, friends, and the community. It can arise from or lead to difficulties in school and work.

Depression can affect anyone. Those who have experienced abuse, significant losses, or other stressful events are more susceptible to developing depression. Women are more prone to experiencing depression compared to men.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder vs Depression

Social Anxiety Disorder 

  • Excessive worry
  • Muscle tension
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Concentration troubles
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Hypervigilance
  • Agoraphobia
  • Sense of impending danger
  • Increased breathing rate


  • Lack of energy
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hopelessness and helplessness
  • Slowing of movement
  • Prolonged grief
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

Duration & Persistence of Social Anxiety Disorder vs Depression

Social Anxiety Disorder 

The anxiety experienced in social settings is enduring and typically endures for a minimum of half a year. It can have a substantial effect on daily activities.


Depression is marked by enduring symptoms that persist for a minimum of a fortnight. It can be ongoing or intermittent.

Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder Vs Depression

Social Anxiety Disorder 

Treatments for SAD may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT, a psycho-social intervention), exposure therapy, and medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).


Medication (such as antidepressants) and lifestyle alterations may be used in conjunction with psychotherapy (such as CBT or psychodynamic therapy.

Summary of Social Anxiety Disorder vs Depression

The points of difference between Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression have been summarized as below:


Can social anxiety be mistaken for depression?

Almost 90% of the time, people with social anxiety are misdiagnosed. Misdiagnoses for social anxiety disorder include manic-depressive, depression, schizophrenic, clinically depressed, panic disordered etc.

What is the difference between social anxiety and social anxiety disorder?

Anxiety about social interactions is called social anxiety (SA) and when it reaches a level of severity that interferes with one’s functioning, it is called social anxiety disorder (SAD).

Are anxiety and depression the same condition?

Anxiety and depression are separate mental health disorders with similarities but also notable differences in symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Anxiety is excessive concern, fear, or uneasiness about upcoming events. Physical signs include a faster heart rate, tense muscles, perspiration, and shaking. Common types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

Depression involves enduring unhappiness, despair, and a lack of enthusiasm or enjoyment in activities. Symptoms may also include changes in appetite or weight, sleep problems, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide.

Anxiety and depression frequently coexist, known as comorbid anxiety and depression.

Both anxiety and depression can arise from genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, medication, or a combination, depending on symptom severity and individual needs.

What can social anxiety be mistaken for?

Manic-depressive disorder (bipolar disorder), clinical depression, panic disorder and schizophrenia.

What are 3 symptoms of social anxiety?

Social phobia is intense apprehension about social situations and fear of scrutiny or criticism. Here are three indications:

1. Preoccupation before events: People with social phobia feel intense fear and unease before social occasions. This can hinder daily functioning and make it challenging to participate in social activities.

2. Avoidance of social situations: Social phobia involves avoiding gatherings, parties, or any scenario where individuals fear being judged or becoming the center of attention.

3. Physical symptoms: Social phobia can cause physical manifestations like blushing, perspiration, trembling, queasiness, or a quivering voice. These symptoms are triggered by the body’s fight or flight response to perceived social evaluation or humiliation.

What is the root cause of social anxiety?

Social anxiety is a complex condition with various causes. Factors that contribute to its emergence include:

– Hereditary: Evidence suggests a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders, including social phobia. If a family member has or had social phobia or another anxiety disorder, there may be an increased risk.

– Neurochemical Imbalance: Imbalances in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine can contribute to the development of social phobia, as these substances regulate mood and anxiety levels.

– Environmental Influences: Early life experiences, such as trauma, bullying, or social exclusion, can contribute to social phobia. Negative experiences in social situations can lead to fear and avoidance behaviors.

– Personality Traits: Certain personality characteristics, such as introversion, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and a fear of negative evaluation, may increase the likelihood of developing social phobia.

– Cognitive Aspects: Distorted thoughts and negative self-perceptions can foster social phobia, with individuals often having exaggerated fears of judgment or rejection by others.

– Social Conditioning: Observational learning and social modeling can also influence the development of social phobia. Growing up in an environment where social interactions are seen as threatening or witnessing anxious behaviors can increase the risk.

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References :

[0]Hofmann, S. G., Anu Asnaani, M. A., & Hinton, D. E. (2010). Cultural aspects in social anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety, 27(12), 1117-1127.

[1]Leichsenring, F., & Leweke, F. (2017). Social anxiety disorder. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(23), 2255-2264.

[2]Schneier, F., & Goldmark, J. (2015). Social anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders and gender, 49-67.

[3]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEJYgXBsTw-woman-holds-in-hand-sheet-of-paper-with-word-depression/

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAFnzkBRH38-psychologist-hand-helping-sad-young-woman-to-get-rid-of-depression-psychotherapy-of-emotional-disorders-ptsd-anxiety/

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