Why is it that the social anxiety forums are so youth orientated? It now feels like I am entering a student forum and I almost feel embarrassed mentioning my age. It’s the same on blogs or facebook groups with social anxiety being almost always spoken to as if from the point of view of a teenager or someone in their twenties. Yet there are many people aged 40+ with serious anxiety problems who occasionally comment on the forums. They don’t often stay around long or post much though. Perhaps they also feel like they don’t fit in. Although many people claim age has no relevance its clear from past experiences that most people relate best to people their own age and also ignore you once they realise that you are over 40. Some even seem shocked as if they just assume that no one at all uses the internet at all past 40.
Is this age obsession more to do with cultural rather than any scientific reasons I wonder. Is it something to do with shame and guilt? The notion that we are supposed to simply grow out of shyness by a certain age and that it is only acceptable behaviour for children or young women. If we dont grow out of it by adulthood it’s our own fault and we should be ashamed? Perhaps it’s also the assumption that shyness and social anxiety are exactly the same when one is considerably worse than the other.Despite ideas about gender differences being very unpopular and the obsession with equality I also think that shy men are much more unacceptable in our society than females. Perhaps due to past cultural behavior whereas men were expected to be brave, confident and more assertive. You read about blushing young women all the time in literature but almost never young men.
If you look at depression it’s far more widespread between ages. There are loads of depressed people over 40 and even into old age who suffer serious depression. It has also been seen historically and rather ignorantly as a sign of weakness but now it’s seen as a major illness that can affect almost anyone and of any age. Perhaps because of more public awareness it’s not got quite the stigma it once did. That cannot be said for social anxiety however which is still virtually unknown by the general public and still seen as simply shyness which you will grow out of. I imagine there must be loads of older people who although not as shy as they once were they are still racked with other forms of general anxiety and stress. However they just learn to cope and plod on. From some of the comments on the anxiety forums even many doctors still do not take it seriously or just assume its depression.