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Anthropophobia – Fear of People


Anthropophobia: The Excessive Fear of People

Do you experience extreme anxiety while in the company of others?

Do you dread those family meet-ups? Have you tried not to feel nervous when around others, but you still get the jitters?

Do you sweat profusely or experience panic attacks at the mere thought of meeting people?

Do you prefer being alone all the time but don’t know why? While you don’t have anything against people, do you refuse to go out because you might encounter someone, anyone? If so, then the question you need to ask is, Do I have anthropophobia?

If you think you might, read on to learn more.

What Is Anthropophobia?

Anthropophobia comes from two terms, anthro meaning “people,” and phobia meaning “fear.” Anthropophobia is an extreme and intense fear of people.

Anthropophobia should not be confused with social phobia. Social phobia includes a wide variety of social fears, such as public speaking and standing in front of people. With anthropophobia, you’ll feel anxious even in the company of one person. Dinner with your family will be a monumental task.

A person with social phobia may feel safe where they appear in disguise or where their appearance goes unnoticed. However, those with anthropophobia may react even when they’re in the back of a room, overlooked by everyone around them.

What Causes Anthropophobia?

While it’s challenging to identify a specific trigger for anthropophobia, experts attribute it to several factors. For many, there is a high possibility the fear was triggered by a negative experience with an older person.

What started your fear of people? Could it have been an incident of abuse, or were you a witness to a violent crime? Experiences such as these sometimes result in a phobia of people.

If you are naturally anxious, your fear could be a result of anxiety. Those diagnosed with anxiety disorders may develop anthropophobia.

Certain health conditions and disabilities can also trigger anxiety. For example, a person with albinism might prefer to be alone due to the stigma they’ve experienced, such as constant staring. If this fear is not addressed early, anthropophobia may develop.

It’s also possible to develop anthropophobia from learned behaviors. Learning a behavior doesn’t necessarily refer to the academic acquiring of knowledge. You could have started responding differently to others based on how someone close to you behaved when in the presence of others.

Anthropophobia Symptoms

What are the symptoms of anthropophobia?  There are no specific symptoms for anthropophobia. Health care practitioners refer to common symptoms experienced by others with various phobias. These symptoms may be physical, mental, or emotional.

Physical Symptoms

  • Stomach upset and discomfort
  • Sweating and shaking when talking to others
  • Troubled breathing
  • Increased heartbeat rate
  • Having speech difficulties
  • Experiencing sleeping problems

Mental/Emotional Symptoms

  • Major fear and anxiety about a person or persons
  • Anticipatory anxiety when you think of meeting up with people
  • Wanting to run away
  • Anticipating that something terrible will happen

Anthropophobia Treatment

Is it possible to live a life free of the fear of people? Yes!

While you can’t cure anthropophobia with medication, there are still other treatment options. Treating the phobia of people requires you to adopt a positive approach and suppress associated fearful thoughts and emotions. You can even try self-care tips before reaching out to a professional.

Self-Help

Self-help is the first form of treatment for any phobia. Meditating, joining a self-help group, anxiety coping methods, etc., will go a long way to reduce the impact the dread of people has on your life.

Apply Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are diverse. One relaxation technique that works is controlled breathing. Taking deep breaths before leaving the house will calm you. Count as you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

If you feel the onset of a panic attack in the presence of others, controlled breathing will help calm your surging anxiety.

Use Self-Help Resources

Many resources like books and online programs will teach you how to cope with your fear. Some of these books and online resources were written by others who have overcome their phobias. What better way to treat anxiety than to hear from those that recovered from their fear?

Expose Yourself to Your Fear

Make a steady effort to interact with people. Interacting with people could turn your world around because you will be exposing yourself to the very thing you fear. Your anxiety may slowly start to shrink, and you may find yourself enjoying company other than your own. Getting used to being around people may take time, but it will surely be worth the effort. If you find yourself comfortable around just one person, you’ll have conquered a significant part of the battle.

 

Professional Treatment

Professional treatment for phobias relies on therapies. While many therapies are available, choose what suits you best. It might be hard to open up to a therapist because it means sharing a space with them. That’s okay. Pick an alternative that allows you to feel safe, like online interaction. Give yourself time and push harder every day. Ensure that you can point out daily progress.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy, or simply ACT, is a form of psychotherapy that will help you address and control challenging emotions. All you’re required to do is accept that there is a problem and act accordingly to alleviate it. A mental health professional will help you understand what you dread about people through what you share.

After you have accepted the very thing out of your control, take full charge and apply strategies that will put you firmly on the road to recovery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychological treatment that works to ease a fear by helping the patient confront what they fear. CBT is different from the self-care tip where you expose yourself to your anxiety.

A professional will help you gradually interact with people in a controlled setting. They will do so according to how they understand your fear.

How to Cope with Anthropophobia

Anthropophobia is an extreme fear that robs you of a vibrant social life. While its implications are far-reaching, it doesn’t have to be that way. Recovery is possible and depends on your willingness and determination. Don’t allow a fear to dictate what you can or cannot do and whether or not you can have a social life.

Anthropophobia can cost you friendships, job opportunities, leisure activities, and family love. You’ll realize that all spheres of life require interaction. Before you decide to relocate to an island to live alone, address your anxiety about people.

Conclusion

Human contact is not only an important part of life, but a basic human need. While therapy works, addressing the phobia of people on a personal level is also helpful. Let it register in your mind that anthropophobia can be overcome and work towards unlearning any negative perceptions you have of other people.

Stories Submitted by Our Readers

Fear of People

I am so scared of people that I cannot ask for help. I can’t hold a conversation as my mind just stops and I can’t think. Since I cannot talk to others, I cannot negotiate prices and often pay way too much for any service since I cannot speak.

If I know I have to go somewhere and be around others such as a doctor’s appointment, I have panic attacks for several days before the time to go. My anxiety is off the charts.

My phobia is so bad that I cannot carry on a conversation on the phone. I may not remember anything I am told; my comprehension is so low. If I have to call my boss or my doctor, I have the same fear and can’t breathe.

What is strange is that it is only when I have to be one on one with people. I can handle grocery shopping, concerts, or conventions. However, if you want to talk to me privately, I go completely quiet and cannot think straight. I hate being the center of attention. I do so much better with strangers. I have been this way since I was very young. I could speak to adults, but not other kids.

Steve W.

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