From the U.S.: I’ve struggled with eye contact most of my life but its getting worse. I used to be able to look at my doctors, receptionists and cashiers but now I’m at a point where I’m finding even that extremely difficult. It’s the worst when I’m around someone who knows a lot about me–I honestly can’t say the last time I made eye contact with my therapist. I panic at the thought of looking at someone.
I feel intense shame when I’m talking to someone, overwhelmed by my fear of saying the wrong thing and by their attention, which compounds the fear of making eye contact. It’s making it more and more difficult for me to do what I want to do out of the house, especially if I have to do it on my own.
What could be causing this and how can I change it? My therapist stops short of diagnosing me with social anxiety, so what is it?
It’s not really important how you name it. What’s important is that it is limiting your life. Instead of worrying about a diagnostic label, please focus on working with your therapist to manage the anxiety. This may require a combination of some medication as well as talk therapy, at least at first. Do talk it over with your therapist.
I wish you well. Dr. Marie
Fear of Eye Contact
Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker
Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
APA Reference Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Fear of Eye Contact. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/01/14/fear-of-eye-contact/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.