The outgoing yet anxious: Unraveling the paradox of extroverts with social anxiety

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated March 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Some may view extroverts as those who thrive in social environments and are drawn to crowds and group interaction. 

While this might seem mutually exclusive with social anxiety, human psychology isn’t always as binary as we might imagine. This incongruence brings us to an often-overlooked topic in psychology: extroverts with social anxiety.

In this article, we will explore what an extrovert is, how social anxiety might present itself in extroverts, and how online mental health care can help people cope with symptoms of anxiety.

Extroverts can experience social anxiety, too

Extroverts vs. introvert

Extroverts may be known for their tendency to be outgoing and friendly. They may draw on social engagement for energy and find satisfaction in collective experiences. 

On the other hand, introverts might need to recharge through time away from social interactions. An introvert might enjoy social interactions yet feel drained after long periods without independent time. 

While social anxiety may be associated with introverts, it isn’t exclusive to them. Anyone can struggle with anxiety, and it can manifest in unique ways for those who simultaneously seek social experiences. 

Understanding anxiety in extroverts

Anxiety doesn’t discriminate based on personality types. Anyone can develop social anxiety, including extroverts

While extroverts might draw energy from social interactions, they can simultaneously feel socially anxious with worry, fear, isolation, and rejection. This type of anxiety can feel particularly confusing and challenging for extroverts, as it may be in stark contrast with their typical behavior.

When social anxiety takes form, it can seem like a roadblock to an enjoyable experience. This paradox may go unnoticed and create an emotional burden. A licensed mental health professional can recognize social anxiety symptoms in extroverts and recommend therapeutic techniques suited to different personality traits.

What social anxiety in extroverts may look like

Social anxiety in extroverts can present itself in several ways. In some cases, social anxiety may cause extroverts to pull away from social engagements toward which they would typically gravitate. 

Such responses can lead to others perceiving that they may be uninterested rather than an indication of anxiety. This lack of understanding can cause a sense of isolation and deeper perceptions of judgment or rejection, perpetuating an unhelpful cycle. 

Other times, extroverts experiencing anxiety may try to overcompensate through increased sociability or seeking constant reassurance from others. They might be overly active in social situations to distract themselves from their internal activity. This tendency may mask underlying struggles, making it difficult for those around them to recognize their experience.


Recognizing extroverts with social anxiety

Cultivating broader societal awareness around the topic can help reduce the stigma and sense of isolation for those with social anxiety. 

People who may be aware of the symptoms of social anxiety in extroverts might also show patience and empathy. As we navigate the complex landscape of human emotions, acknowledging these nuances can allow us to better support one another in our diverse yet shared human experiences.

If you know an extrovert experiencing symptoms of anxiety, there are ways you can provide support. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and experiences. You may also encourage them to open up to a mental health professional. Try not to minimize their emotions based on their extroverted nature.

How mental health care can help

Extroverts with anxiety may face unique challenges in their social relationships. They may fear rejection or judgment and experience a constant need to perform or be liked by others, which can lead to a cycle of stress and anxiety in which they seem driven to engage socially but also fear it simultaneously.

The complexity of being an extrovert with social anxiety can require a multifaceted approach to support and care. 

Mental health professionals can acknowledge the duality of the experience, recognize the challenges faced, and provide mental health techniques and anxiety management strategies.

Benefits of online therapy for anxiety

Recognition may be the first step toward addressing anxiety in extroverts. It can help to understand that having a seemingly outgoing demeanor doesn’t negate the possibility of internal struggles.

Therapy can be highly beneficial for extroverts coping with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, can help them identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety. It can also equip them with coping strategies to manage their symptoms.

Online therapy has emerged as a versatile and effective method for treating various mental health conditions, including anxiety

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Extroverts can experience social anxiety, too

One of the key benefits of this approach for extroverts may be compatibility with their potentially active and social lifestyle. Online therapy provides flexibility, allowing sessions to fit easily around busy schedules.

Online therapy also offers a balance between social interaction and a professional setting. While it provides the interaction that extroverts often find energizing, it also allows them to maintain a degree of distance and control over their environment, which can make opening up about their struggles with anxiety less daunting.

Efficacy of online therapy for anxiety

Several studies suggest that online therapy may be as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy in treating anxiety disorders. For extroverts experiencing social anxiety, online therapy's interactive yet flexible nature may enhance their engagement with the therapeutic process.

Online therapy also allows for more frequent and consistent contact with therapists, providing interaction that can benefit extroverts. 

The access to a vast network of therapists online empowers extroverts to find a professional with whom who they feel comfortable and who understands their specific experiences and challenges as extroverted individuals with anxiety.


Extroverts can be the life of the party and simultaneously fear the judgment or criticism that might come their way. The duality of thriving in social environments and feeling anxious by them can be taxing, leading to unseen or confusing struggles. 

Online therapy not only provides a practical and convenient solution for extroverts coping with anxiety but also aligns well with their social nature, enhancing the likelihood of a positive and effective therapeutic experience.

If you’re interested in treating social anxiety disorder by connecting with an online mental health professional, consider meeting with a therapist on an online therapy platform such as BetterHelp. You can match with a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, or other mental health professional in as little as 48 hours.

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started