Q. What can be done for eye contact anxiety?

Answered by
Dr. Gayatri Saraf
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Oct 12, 2018

Hey doctor,

I have been shy for as long as I remember. Not sure when I started suffering from social anxiety, I guess it built up slowly. Probably started in the middle of my teenage years. I am 32 now. I have been able to get through pretty good during the years. However, something really nasty started when I was about 27 to 28. Back then it was only sometimes, pretty rare at the start but now it is happening all the time, regardless of who I am interacting with, random people, family, and friends.

What I am talking about is something I would describe as terror. So, it is not the everyday fear or anxiety I used to be able to deal with. It is fear as extreme as it gets. I am pretty sure I would not even react in this way if I met a bear in the wood. It happens upon eye contact. There is not really any time in between the eye contact and the arising of this terror, so it is not like I can do anything. My mind reacts with terror as soon as my eyes meet another person's eyes. It comes like a quick surge and then it settles so I can actually still communicate but those surges can still come back later in the conversation. However, these moments of terror are so nasty that I have started to avoid meeting anyone (I know, it does not make things better. But what to do? This is insane stuff going on (sometimes I get these attacks when I watch people in movies even). This thing has a bit of a domino effect as well because I see no hope anymore, am depressed and would rather not be alive at all, to be honest. If one is not able to enjoy another human's company, what is the point? I am interested to know what is going on with my mind. I wanna know what this is. More details about the presenting complaint: Already stated, current medications: None, past medications of the same issue: none, lab tests performed: none.

Dr. Gayatri Saraf



Welcome to icliniq.com.

I understand that it can be extremely distressing for someone to feel the way you have been feeling. You seem to have a social anxiety disorder that has worsened lately. Sometimes it is common for social anxiety to run its own course, where it waxes and wanes and worsens during some life periods (hence the terror that you have described). It can also lead to depression because of the suffering involved. The good thing is now we know a lot about this disorder in terms of treatment. There are medications as well as therapy options like cognitive behavioral therapy which have been shown to be very effective in people with this disorder. I would encourage you to seek help from a qualified psychiatrist as soon as possible so that you feel better.

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