The fear of being stared at is known as scopophobia or scoptophobia. The severity varies from individual to person. Some people are just afraid of long stares from strangers, while others are afraid of even looking a buddy in the eye.

If someone is staring at you strangely, it's common to feel uneasy or even anxious. In situations involving public speaking or performances, feeling anxious is also typical. But scopophilia is a more dangerous condition. People who have this phobia could think that people are looking at them closely and inspecting them, which can cause anguish, discomfort, and panic.

Although not always, scopophobia is frequently connected to other social phobias. The anxiety could get worse if left untreated.

A few common symptoms of scopophobia include:

  • Avoiding eye contact

  • Never stop believing that people are watching you.

  • Feeling threatened when people look at you

  • Hypervigilance

If you have a fear of being in the spotlight, you might go out of your way to avoid those circumstances. Some people just have a fear of huge groups, while others have a phobia of quick transactions like those at the grocery store. Some people are wary of unplanned interactions like saying hello to a stranger as they cross the street.

You can blush a lot when facing your feared situation. Ironically, erythrophobia, or the dread of flushing, affects a large portion of people with scopophobia, making this symptom particularly problematic. Additionally, you might start to feel bodily signs of fear, such as:

  • Chills

  • Dry mouth

  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating

  • Muscle tension

  • Nausea

  • Panic attacks

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Shaking

  • Shallow breathing

  • Sweating

You can have a strong need to leave the circumstance. To prevent panic attacks, some persons who have scopophobia start to restrict their everyday activities. You might abstain from going out alone or invite strangers around for a visit.

Untreated scopophobia occasionally gets worse over time. Even in the presence of close friends or family members, you might eventually start to feel uneasy. 

Scopolobia's precise origins are not known. This phobia can develop for a variety of reasons, just like other phobias.

Genetics and family history: Studies have shown that relatives who suffer from phobias or other anxiety disorders are more likely to develop those diseases themselves. While genetics may have a role, being exposed to anxious behaviors can help people acquire scared reactions.

Traumatic experiences: Specific phobias might arise as a result of challenging or traumatic events. This phobia may be more likely to develop in people who have experienced bullying or ridicule.

Extreme self-consciousness, which may include concerns about being observed, is a common adolescent phase. But typically, these emotions pass with time. However, scopophobia may be diagnosed if the fear continues or gets worse.

Although it is a distinct phobia, scopophobia may be connected to social anxiety disorder. Most persons who have this fear also experience other closely related social anxiety symptoms, like stage fright or public speaking phobia.

Because they believe that being gazed at might set off an episode or because they worry that having an episode will prompt people to stare, some people with certain medical conditions develop scopophobia. The risk of scopophobia may be increased by several illnesses, including epilepsy, Tourette's syndrome, and various movement disorders. The likelihood of developing this fear may also be higher in people with deforming diseases or accidents. 

A Mental health professional and your doctor must work together to assess whether your dread of being gazed at is excessive and has an excessively harmful impact on your life if you feel it is a result of a medical condition.

The dread of being stared at responds favorably to a variety of therapeutic approaches, like all phobias. Together with you, your therapist will create a treatment strategy that tackles both scopophobia and co-occurring illnesses and Online counseling and in-clinic counseling with the Best psychologist.

The following are typical therapies for this condition:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) entails locating the underlying beliefs that fuel anxiety and then changing them with more constructive, realistic beliefs. By doing this, people can reframe circumstances such that they are less frightening.

Exposure therapy is a type of CBT that involves gradually exposing a person to the source of their fear. People experience less worry when they become more acclimated to the circumstance or object they are afraid of. To aid people in having more control over their fear, this method is sometimes used in conjunction with relaxation techniques.

Medication: In some circumstances, doctors may recommend medication to assist patients in managing scopophobia symptoms. To help with mood enhancement and anxiety reduction, doctors may prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). People who are experiencing severe anxiety or dread sensations can benefit from using benzodiazepines, which have a sedative effect.

The life-limiting nature of scopophobia may eventually force individuals to curtail their everyday activities. It is treatable with the right care and persistence. The time and effort needed to get over this phobia are more than worth the advantages of treatment.

People can also utilize self-help techniques to manage the symptoms of scopophobia. Some effective methods are:

Find ways to unwind

You can better manage your fear and anxiety by learning how to relax and deal with stress. Deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, yoga, guided visualization, and meditation are a few strategies you could find useful.

Face your phobias

Taking little, steady attempts to tackle your concerns on your own might also be beneficial. The idea is to move cautiously in supportive environments where you feel protected. Finding ways to practice facing your fears will help you manage your Anxiety better.

Take Care of Yourself

It's also crucial to take good care of your physical and mental health and to treat yourself nicely. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, getting enough Sleep, and being active every day.

Additionally, you may schedule an appointment with the top professional psychologists and receive Mental health counseling at the Psychowellness Centre, which has many locations in Delhi NCR, NOIDA, Faridabad, Janakpuri, Dwarka, and Vasant Vihar.

Contribution: Dr (Prof) R K Suri, Clinical Psychologist, life coach & mentor TalktoAngel & Dr. Sakshi Kochhar Psychologist.