How fear of being watched can limit your life (2023)

Scopophobia, also known as scoptophobia, is the fear of being watched. It varies in severity from person to person. Some people just get scared when a stranger stares for a long time, while others are scared of even making eye contact with a friend.

It's normal to feel uncomfortable or even scared when someone looks at you in an unusual way. It's also normal to feel nervous in a presentation or public speaking situation. However, scopophobia is more serious. People with this phobia can feel like they are being tested and tested by others, leading to feelings of stress, unease, and anxiety.

Scopophobia is often, but not always, associated with otherssocial phobias🇧🇷 If left untreated, anxiety can get worse over time. This article looks at the symptoms of scopophobia and how it is diagnosed. It also examines some treatments that can help people cope with this condition.

Symptoms of scopophobia

Some common symptoms of scopophobia are:

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Always have the feeling that others are watching you
  • Feeling threatened when people look at you
  • hyper vigilance

If you have scopophobia, there are things you can do to avoid situations that put you in the spotlight. Some people only fear large group situations, while others fear short transactions like grocery checkouts. Some fear casual contact, such as B. Exchanging pleasantries with someone walking down the street.

When confronted with his dreaded situation, he may blush profusely. Ironically, many people also suffer from scopophobiaErythrophobie, or the fear of blushing, which makes this symptom particularly troublesome. They may also start experiencing scary physical symptoms, such as:

  • goose flesh
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • muscle tension
  • nausea
  • panic attacks
  • racing heartbeat
  • shake
  • shallow breathing
  • sweat

You may feel a strong need to get out of the situation. Some people with scopophobia begin to limit their daily activities to avoid panic reactions. You may refuse to go out alone or to have people at home who you don't know well.

Over time, untreated scopophobia sometimes gets worse. You may even feel uncomfortable around trusted friends or family members.

Diagnosis of scopophobia

ÖDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5-TR) does not recognize scopophobia as a distinct mental disorder. Rather, a person with that phobia would be diagnosed with a specific phobia.

To be diagnosed with a specific phobia, a person must:

  • Experiencing significant fear or anxiety in response to the source of your fear
  • Always experience this fear reaction.
  • He is actively trying to avoid his fear.
  • Experience fear that is disproportionate to the actual danger

In addition to these symptoms, the symptoms of scopophobia must last six months or longer and impair function or cause significant distress. The symptoms should also not be better explained by another illness.

Causes of scopophobia

The exact causes of scopophobia are not entirely clear. As with other types of phobias, several factors can contribute to the development of this condition.

  • Genetics and Family History.: Research has found that people who have family members with phobias or other anxiety disorders are more likely to have similar conditions.Genetics may play a role, but exposure to anxious behaviors can contribute to the development of fear responses.
  • traumatic experiences: Difficult or traumatic experiences can also play a role in the development of specific phobias. People who have been bullied or taunted may be at a higher risk of developing this phobia.

Many teenagers go through a period of extreme shyness, which can include fears of being watched. However, these feelings generally pass over time. However, if the fear persists or worsens, it can be diagnosed as scopophobia.

How to be less shy in social situations

(Video) How To Beat Fear And Anxiety | Jordan Peterson | Powerful Life Advice

Scopophobia and Related Disorders

Scopophobia is a specific phobia, but it can be related to social anxiety disorder. Most people with this anxiety also experience other related social anxiety symptoms, such as:Stage Frightor the fear ofspeak publicly.

Some people with certain medical conditions develop scopophobia because they feel staring might trigger an episode or because they fear an episode will cause people to stare at them. Epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, and some movement disorders are among the conditions that can increase the risk of scopophobia.People with disfiguring illnesses or injuries may also be more prone to developing this phobia.

Remember, well-founded fears are never diagnosed as phobias. For some people, however, the fear is out of proportion to the risk.

If you are afraid of being watched because of a medical condition, it is important that a psychotherapist, along with your doctor, determine if your anxiety about your specific medical condition is excessive and is unnecessarily affecting your health negatively. . . Life. .

Treatments for Scopophobia

Like all phobias, the fear of being observed responds to a variety of treatment options. Your therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses scopophobia and the disorders associated with it.

Common treatments for this condition include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy consists of identifying the underlying thoughts that contribute to the feelings of anxiety and then replacing them with more useful and realistic ones. This can help people reframe situations as less anxiety-provoking.
  • Expositionstherapie: This approach is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy in which one gradually exposes oneself to the source of a person's fear. As people become accustomed to the feared object or situation, their fear decreases. This strategy is often combined with relaxation techniques to help people gain more control over their fear response.
  • medication: In some cases, doctors can prescribe medications to help people control the symptoms of scopophobia.Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) may be prescribed to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Benzodiazepine, which have a calming effect, can help people manage acute symptoms of anxiety and fear.

Scopophobia can limit life and gradually force people to limit their daily activities. With proper treatment and perseverance, it can be overcome. The benefits of treatment are worth the time and energy it takes to overcome this phobia.

How to deal with scopophobia

There are also self-help strategies that people can use to manage the symptoms of scopophobia. Some useful techniques are:

Find ways to relax

Finding ways to relax and manage stress can help you manage feelings of anxiety and fear when they arise. Some tactics that may be helpful include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, guided imagery, and meditation.

face your fears

It can also help to take steps of your own, step by step, to face your fears. The key is to do it slowly in situations where you feel safe and supported. Avoidance makes anxiety worse over time, so look for opportunities to practice dealing with the things you're afraid of.

take care

It is also important to treat yourself well and take care of your physical and mental well-being. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay active every day, and eat a balanced diet.

How to face your fears

9 gears

Verywell Mind uses only quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to back up the facts in our articles. read ourspublishing processfor more information about how we review our content and keep it accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Gamer M., Hecht H., Seipp N., Hiller W.who is watching me With social phobia, the cone of vision widens.knowledge vs.. 2011;25(4):756-764. doi:10.1080/02699931.2010.503117

  2. Schulze L, Renneberg B, Lobmaier JS.Gaze perception in social anxiety and social anxiety disorder.Frontsummen Neurosci. 2013;7:872. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00872

  3. Richards HJ, Benson V, Donnelly N, Hadwin JA.Exploring the role of selective attention and hypervigilance in threats in anxiety.Clinic Psychology Rev. 2014;34(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2013.10.006

  4. American Psychiatric Association (APA).Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders🇧🇷 5th edition, text revision. Washington, D.C.; 2022.

  5. Van Houtem CM, Laine ML, Boomsma DI, Ligthart L, van Wijk AJ, De Jongh A.A review and meta-analysis of the heritability of specific phobia subtypes and corresponding fears..anxiety disorder. 2013;27(4):379-88. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.04.007

  6. Medicine Johns Hopkins.phobias.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Other concerns and complaints related to Tourette's Syndrome.

  8. Bandelow B, Michaelis S, Wedekind D.treatment of anxiety disorders.Clin Neurosci Dialogues. 2017;19(2):93-107. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/bbandelow

    (Video) Why you should define your fears instead of your goals | Tim Ferriss

  9. Balon R, Starcevic V.Role of benzodiazepines in anxiety disorders.Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1191:367-388. doi:10.1007/978-981-32-9705-0_20

Continue reading

ThroughLisa Fritscher
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health issues.

See Our Editorial Process

Get to know our judging panel

share comments

Was this page helpful

Thank you for your comments!

What is your opinion?

(Video) New Year's Transmission: Release Emotions, Feel Limitless Love

Talk to a phobia therapist


The offers listed in this table are from companies that Verywell Mind receives compensation from.

(Video) The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz


What does it mean when your scared of being watched? ›

Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable.

How does fear limit people? ›

Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.

How do I get over my fear of being watched? ›

Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy may help you develop coping skills, and your doctor may prescribe medications to deal with your symptoms. During an episode of scopophobia, you can practice relaxation techniques or reach out to someone supportive to bring you some immediate relief.

Is the feeling of being watched paranoia? ›

Paranoia is a state of mind in which a person believes that others are trying to harm, deceive or exploit them. It could be a feeling of being watched, listened to, followed or monitored in some way. It might be a belief that there is some kind of conspiracy operating against them.

What happens if you get scared too much? ›

Occasional rushes from adrenaline can be good for you, sometimes leading to increased cognitive function. But prolonged stress and an abundance of stress hormones over time can have negative effects, such as high blood pressure or anxiety.

What happens when you feel too much fear? ›

Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations).

Can people be controlled by fear? ›

Fear is often used to control people. Fear is our most powerful emotion and the one that motivates us the most. It is a survival mechanism, that dates back to our caveman days, an instinctual reaction that helps us stay healthy and alive. If we survive a bad experience, we never forget how to avoid it in the future.

What is the constant feeling of being watched called? ›

Paranoia is the feeling that you're being threatened in some way, such as people watching you or acting against you, even though there's no proof that it's true. It happens to a lot of people at some point. Even when you know that your concerns aren't based in reality, they can be troubling if they happen too often.

What causes the feeling of being watched? ›

Shifts in attention from another person are able to, almost reflexively redirect our attention in line with their gaze. Our heightened attention to gaze is thought to have evolved to support cooperative interactions between humans, and is argued to form the foundation for many of our more complex social skills.

Where does the fear of being watched come from? ›

Scopophobia or Scoptophobia is the fear of being watched or stared at. It originates from the Greek word 'skopein' which means “to look or to examine” and phobos meaning “deep dread or aversion”.

What are the first signs of paranoia? ›

They depend on the cause but, generally, a person who is paranoid may:
  • be easily offended.
  • find it difficult to trust others.
  • not cope with any type of criticism.
  • assign harmful meanings to other people's remarks.
  • be always on the defensive.
  • be hostile, aggressive and argumentative.
  • not be able to compromise.

How do I know if I'm being watched? ›

Spot Common Signs of Surveillance
  1. Electrical fixture wall plates are slightly out of place. ...
  2. Check your vinyl baseboard – where the floor and wall meet. ...
  3. Look for discoloration on ceilings and walls. ...
  4. A familiar item or sign in your home or office simply looks off. ...
  5. You notice white debris close to a wall.

How do I stop being paranoid and overthinking? ›

Stop obsessing over every little thing.

Give yourself a designated "worry time." Spend this time sitting down with your paranoid thoughts, evaluating them, and trying to minimize them. If a worry comes up during a different part of the day, just try to mentally move it to your "worry time."

What is too much fear called? ›

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you experience sudden attacks of extreme fear that reach a peak within a few minutes and trigger intense physical symptoms (panic attacks). You might think that you're totally losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.

Can your body shut down from stress? ›

"When the body cannot handle emotional overload, it simply begins to shut down. And that is often manifested by a sense of extreme tiredness and fatigue," says Kalayjian.

Is being scared unhealthy? ›

Short scare bursts can have positive impacts, like strengthening the immune system. "When your body gets that surge of stress, you release antioxidants and those fight cellular damage, so it can be incredibly healthy that way," Kumar said. In that moment, consumed by fear, we become more alert and sharper.

What does the Bible say about living in fear? ›

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

What are signs of high anxiety? ›

Some common symptoms of high-functioning anxiety include:
  • Constantly overthinking and overanalyzing.
  • Fear of failure and striving for perfection.
  • Insomnia and fatigue.
  • The need to please others and difficulty saying no.
  • Tendency to dwell on past mistakes.
  • Nervous habits such as nail-biting, hair twirling, or leg shaking.
Nov 1, 2021

Why does fear come into your mind? ›

It is programmed into the nervous system and works like an instinct. From the time we're infants, we are equipped with the survival instincts necessary to respond with fear when we sense danger or feel unsafe. Fear helps protect us. It makes us alert to danger and prepares us to deal with it.

Why is fear so powerful? ›

Fear Is Physical

Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase. You start breathing faster. Even your blood flow changes — blood actually flows away from your heart and into your limbs, making it easier for you to start throwing punches, or run for your life.

How does fear affect your mental health? ›

Fear can ramp up nervous system activity in some potentially unhealthy ways, according to StatPearls. It's also closely associated with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and may in some cases reinforce or even give rise to these mental health conditions, Davis says.

What power does fear have? ›

Most of us know fear as the unwanted force that drives phobias, anxieties, unhappiness, and inhibits self-actualization. Ironically, fear is the underlying phenomenon that heightens awareness and optimizes physical performance, and can drive ambition, courage, and success.

Why do I feel I am being watched? ›

Social anxiety can make individuals prone to constantly worrying about being watched — but typically only when they're in public. However, for those, like me, who feel watched even when they're alone, the perpetual fear might be a result of formative childhood experiences.

What does it mean if I feel like I'm being watched? ›

Paranoia is the feeling that you're being threatened in some way, such as people watching you or acting against you, even though there's no proof that it's true. It happens to a lot of people at some point. Even when you know that your concerns aren't based in reality, they can be troubling if they happen too often.

Why do I feel that someone is watching me? ›

Specifically, this study showed that we can detect that people are looking at us within our field of view – perhaps in the corner of our eye – even if we haven't consciously noticed. It shows the brain basis for that subtle feeling that tells us we are being watched.

How do you tell if you're being watched? ›

Spot Common Signs of Surveillance
  1. Electrical fixture wall plates are slightly out of place. ...
  2. Check your vinyl baseboard – where the floor and wall meet. ...
  3. Look for discoloration on ceilings and walls. ...
  4. A familiar item or sign in your home or office simply looks off. ...
  5. You notice white debris close to a wall.

What is the fear of being watched at night? ›

August 2021) Scopophobia, scoptophobia, or ophthalmophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a morbid fear of being seen in public or stared at by others.

How to stop being paranoid? ›

  1. Try to get enough sleep. Sleep can give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. ...
  2. Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. ...
  3. Try to keep active. ...
  4. Spend time in nature. ...
  5. Try doing something creative.

Can you actually feel being watched? ›

Some studies have found that up to 94% of people report that they have experienced the feeling of eyes upon them and turned around to find out they were indeed being watched.

Why do people with anxiety rewatch shows? ›

One really effective way to reduce stress for many people is to re-watch or revisit something they have already seen or done before. Assoc. Prof. Byrne tells us that in stressful times, our brains and bodies' desire comfort and one of the places we find comfort is in entertainment we have consumed previously.

Can your brain sense when someone is watching you? ›

The biological phenomenon is known as “gaze detection” or “gaze perception.” Neurological studies have found that the brain cells that initiate this response are very precise. If someone turns their gaze off of you by turning just a few degrees to their left or right, that eerie feeling quickly fades.


1. Don’t Let Fear of Suffering Limit Your Possibility - Sadhguru
2. How to stay calm when you know you'll be stressed | Daniel Levitin
3. Don’t Let Fear In Your Life Limit You | Sadhguru
(The Healing Waves)
4. How to stop screwing yourself over | Mel Robbins | TEDxSF
(TEDx Talks)
5. How to Get Started with Your Family Milk Cow | Shawn & Beth Dougherty | HOA Podcast
(Homesteaders of America)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated: 04/25/2023

Views: 6042

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.