I suffer from anxiety. I have found that a lot of people seem to think I am rude when I am not being so intentionally. This upsets me greatly, because I try to go out of my way to be friendly. I did a search online and found that many people who suffer from anxiety report that others, (in day to day interactions), mistook their anxiety for rudeness. For example, I sometimes avoid eye contact because I become nervous. Some people find this offensive, but I do not do it because I am rude. What can I do to change this?

A. Treating your anxiety disorder would be the most effective approach to resolving this problem. Anxiety is causing you a great deal of distress. It is significantly interfering with the development of relationships. Anxiety is clearly harming you. You should not accept this in your life.

You haven’t told me much about your situation but you might be suffering from avoidant personality disorder. People with this condition are sensitive and easily hurt. They avoid social interaction not because they don’t like other people, they do very much, but because they have great fears about being successful in their interactions. They are afraid that they won’t know what to say or that others will reject them. So they avoid eye contact, saying hello, etc.

Very effective treatments exist for anxiety disorders. Choose a therapist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders. Millions of individuals successfully undergo treatment for anxiety disorders. I hope you will consider it. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle