People with social anxiety disorder may find it difficult to make new friends, but the relationship that they have with their friends is not as terrible as they imagine, says a new study.
People with social anxiety disorder often overestimate how bad their relationships are with friends, the findings showed.
"People with social anxiety disorder report that their friendships are worse, but their friends did not see it the same way," said study co-author Thomas Rodebaugh, associate professor at the Washington University, St. Louis in the US.
"Their friends seem to say something more like: ‘it is different, but not worse’," Rodebaugh added.
Much more than simple shyness, social anxiety disorder is a recognised psychiatric condition in which those struggling with the affliction often live in fear of meeting new people, passing up social invitations or work opportunities for fear of being rejected, embarrassed or otherwise singled out as a failure.
The study involved a group of 112 participants, each diagnosed as having or not having social anxiety disorder.
Each participant brought along a friend from a non-romantic relationship who agreed to take part in the testing.
People with social anxiety disorder reported that their friendships were significantly worse (as compared to people without the disorder), but their friends did not share their views.
The study appeared in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.