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When I started middle school I had developed a problem with maintaining eye contact and restraining from touching parts of my face and arms, particularly my nose. This even occurs when I talk to my parents and other family members. Im in High School now, and every time I walk through the hallways I always feel like I’m being watched by everyone as well as when I hear laughing it feels directed at me, although the person is a stranger and is facing the opposite direction. Do I have social anxiety? Paranoia maybe? Please help.

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Thank you for your Email question. I am sure this must be difficult for you to cope with. Yes, you probably do have some social anxiety and even a small touch of paranoia but not in any of the bad ways you may think. As an adolescent, it is common to have feelings of self consciousness and anxiety, even to the point where there may be some fear of others talking about you. Difficulty with eye contact is another expression of self consciousness and anxiety.

Adolescence is a difficult time for many if not most kids. It’s a time of tremendous emotional and physical changes not experienced since the huge growth spurt starting at birth to five years of age. Now, hormones are flowing, the body is adult size and school and community have expanded way beyond the family and neighborhood. In other words, you are not alone. Most of us adults can remember our own adolescent past when we felt many of the things you are going through.

Clearly, these problems persist in your life and that is why you have written here. One of the things you can do, if you wish, is go to your guidance counselor and speak to him or her about some of your problems. You can be referred to a psychotherapist who, by talking with, can help you overcome some of these uncomfortable things you are going through. If you feel comfortable speaking to your parents and asking them for help, that is a good thing too.

Most probably, with a little help as suggested, you should overcome these things and adjust to your life much better. Life experience helps because it builds self confidence. The more things you can do outside the house the better, such as extra curricular activities, sports activities,or working a part time job, are all confidence builders. Just know that you are not alone with these feelings even though other kids do not talk about it.

Good Luck

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