Inappropriate social interactions / Poor eye contact
Feeling kinda antisocial these days? Don’t blame yourself, especially if you’re dealing with an invisible or chronic illness. Pain, crushing fatigue, and the fear of how your illness will impact your life can take a huge toll on your mental state. As you look into this symptom more, you might come across the term “inappropriate social interactions” or “poor eye contact.” That’s not something that’s meant to judge your behavior; it’s just one way of describing actions that other people might view as going against expected behavior. What does science say this behavior could indicate? Well…just about anything. Inappropriate social interactions and poor eye contact are both hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and many mental disorders, including schizophrenia and anxiety. Plus, some medications can cause personality changes, even when taken as prescribed, especially in people who are sensitive. If you have an invisible or chronic illness and are getting feedback from friends that you seem abnormally distant, it could very well be related to your illness. A long list of psychiatric disorders has been associated with Lyme, for example, including paranoia, dementia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Exposure to toxic mold also has been linked to a range of cognitive and neurological health problems, like insomnia and migraine. Hormones can trigger inappropriate behavior in people who menstruate, and inflammation is known to mess with your emotions. There’s also compelling new evidence linking behavior and immune function, which means anyone with an autoimmune condition is at risk for dysfunctional reactions, including delirium and psychosis. We know that can be alarming to hear, but we believe that the more you know, the better you can take care of yourself! So, if some of this is ringing true, what’s your next step? It depends on what’s causing the behavior and how it’s affecting your life. A trusted practitioner can help you figure out what’s going on, and if you need treatment for any underlying condition or a medication review. Either way, a caring mental health practitioner can help you find ways to make you feel more comfortable in your skin—and with other people.