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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Phobia - looking people in the eyes

 froghat - Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:01 am

Hi, I'm 27 and have social anxiety. I'm currently on Paxil and Buspar which helps calm my racing thoughts and nervousness, but I feel like I'm stuck in mud when it comes to making a one on one connection with people.

For years and years I avoided eye contact at all costs and it gave off a bad impression. Like I didn't care about the other person. Recently I decided to stop living in a box and try to overcome this phobia. I decided to force myself to look into everyone's eyes that I talked to. I thought after a while it would get easier, but it's not. I feel like whenever I talk to someone I'm so aware of the eyes that I'm obsessed by it. I'm not relaxed either and I'm sure it comes off to others. It seems like my family and strangers I talk to are nervous around me. I'm so depressed and losing hope with my problem. My last therapist was no help and I'm not sure what else to do. How do I retrain my self to get this social skill back? I'm not sure if it's some deeply seeded confidence issues, but it's totally ruining my life and I need to resolve this issue before I can move forward in my life. Do you have any suggestions or any doctors in Illinois that could help me? I've run out of ideas.

 Dr. E. Seigle - Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:46 pm

Hi froghat,

It sounds important to you to begin making eye contact with people again, and I sense that you've bravely been working on this a good deal. I don't know what type of therapy that you have had, but you may want to find a psychologist with special expertise in cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiey disorders. Specifically, to focus exclusively (if just for awhile) on making eye contact, a behavioral technique might be beneficial. This would focus specifically on this behavior, would diminish your anxiety about it, and do it in such a way (gradual) so as to prevent overwhelming anxiety from occurring. Good luck.

-Eliot Seigle MD

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