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I cannot speak to anyone with eye contact, what should I do?

Q: I am a 28 years old, stout, active young man. I have been possessing a typical problem since five or six years. I cannot speak to anyone with eye contact, irrespective of women and men. I do wish to develop my communication skill but the apathy to speak with others and this eye contact problem serves as a great obstacle. This problem also happens in case of my close relatives, childhood friends and even with my father and own sister with whom I should have no shyness; before that, five or six years ago, I had a normal relationship with them and felt no problem to speak with them. I have tried in different ways since five or six years to come out from this problem but no improvement has not been taken place in me. Sometimes it becomes a terrible shameful fact when I am unable to respond normally with my relatives and friends due to this problem. By the way I have gradually been loosing friends and relatives. Now this becomes high time for me when my marriage will be arranged soon. How will I cope with all my future situations if it is not disappeared. Why this is happening in me? What is the remedy? Please help me, I am in great trouble.

A:From your query it appears as though you are suffering from an anxiety related condition called social phobia. In this condition there is an overwhelming concern about interacting with people and how they will perceive you. There is a fear about how people are going to evaluate you accompanied by a fear of making a fool of oneself. It is not clear whether you have these concerns but difficulty in making eye contact and gradually losing out on social relationships is one strong indication for the condition. This is a treatable condition and responds very well to counselling. There are many tips and techniques that are taught to help you contain your anxiety. The key factor is however to stop any avoidance because the more you avoid, the worse the condition will become. In some cases anti-anxiety medication may also be prescribed to accelerate the progress. For this you must contact a mental health professional at the earliest.

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