Anthropophobia is an irrational fear of people (or society). This condition causes severe anxiety in the person when in the presence of another person, regardless of the situation. This phobia can significantly affect your daily activities, such as shopping or going to work.
This article discusses the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of anthropophobia.
What are people afraid of?
Having an irrational fear of people is different from feeling uncomfortable in social situations. Anthropophobia can cause anxiety whether you are around a group of people or just one person. This condition also makes you worry a lot about offending others and not feeling worthy.
Anthropophobia is not an official mental health disorder included in the fifth edition ofDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5). However, the condition causes severe anxiety symptoms similar to other anxiety disorders.
symptoms and characteristics
Anthropophobia can cause physical symptoms consistent with other types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Excessive fear and worry.
- Cautious and avoidant behavior.
- panic attacks
- Dry mouth
- Tension muscular
- cardiac arrhythmia
- difficulty to sleep
People with anthropophobia usually have the following characteristics:
- Feeling unworthy or inadequate
- Worry about offending other people
- Fear of being judged or observed.
- Difficulty talking to people.
- Difficulty looking people in the eye.
- Exaggerated fear or delusion of how your body odor might offend another person
- Altered view of your appearance
- negative self-talk
There is no exact cause for anthropophobia. However, the irrational fear of people can develop after trauma, whether the trauma was yourself or you heard about someone else's traumatic experience.
Genetics may play a role in anthropophobia. If someone in your family also has a mental health disorder, especially if they have a specific anxiety disorder or phobia, a persistent and irrational fear of a specific situation, object, activity, or person, you are at increased risk of developing that illness.
A person's cultural background can also contribute to phobias. Cultures often have different social norms or "unwritten rules" that dictate how a person should behave or act around other people. Trying to meet these standards can increase the likelihood that a person will develop a fear of people.
phobiasIt can also be the result of an imbalance in brain chemicals calledneurotransmitters(the body's chemical messengers), such as dopamine and serotonin.
diagnosis of anthropophobia
Although anthropophobia is not listed in the DSM-5, it is similar to a specific phobia diagnosis.
Criteria for diagnosing a specific phobia include:
- Disproportionate fear of the real threat of being around people.
- Fear that lasted at least six months.
- Immediate anxiety reaction to exposure to people or anticipation of being around people
- Going out of your way to avoid being around people or enduring it with extreme distress
- Fear that interferes with your normal daily routine
How is the phobia diagnosed?
Phobias such as anthropophobia can be effectively treated with psychotherapy, relaxation and mindfulness practices, and in some cases, medication.
talk therapy(psychotherapy) is a common treatment for anthropophobia. A method used in psychotherapy to treat phobias iscognitive behavioral therapy(TCC).Phobias are based on irrational thoughts and negative self-talk. CBT challenges these thoughts and teaches you how to combat them with positive, reality-based thought patterns.
A specific technique that can be used in the therapy of phobias isexposed therapy.If you have anthropophobia, this intervention involves gradually exposing yourself to your fear of people while working through your anxiety symptoms. You can start by talking about being around people or looking at other people's photos. As you improve, the level of exposure increases until you can be around people without feeling distressed.
Relaxation and Mindfulness
Anxiety symptoms caused by anthropophobia can be reduced with relaxation techniques and mindfulness training. The following techniques are also often incorporated into cognitive behavioral therapy:
- Deep breathing: Focusing on your breathing while you are anxious can help you calm down.Deep breathing(diaphragmatic breathing) can be done virtually anywhere.
Step by step deep breathing
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
- Inhale slowly, filling your belly with air.
- Blow out slowly, through pursed lips, as if you were blowing out candles.
- Repeat for several breaths.
- display: Imagining yourself in the presence of people can help reduce anxiety symptoms and help you overcome your fears.
- guided imagery: This technique consists of imagining yourself in a quiet place, like a beach. This imagery is guided by verbal commands, given by a therapist or by listening to a recording.
- consciousness: Phobias are based on irrational thoughts. Mindfulness involves focusing on what is happening in the present moment, which can help reduce anxiety symptoms.
What is meditation?
If your anthropophobia symptoms significantly affect your daily life, your doctor may prescribe medication. However, many people may not respond to medications, and a medication may make symptoms worse. Rarely would one drug be recommended as the only treatment.
The most common medications used to treat phobias arebenzodiazepinessuch as Ativan (lorazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Klonopin (clonazepam).Benzodiazepines are short-acting medications that are taken at the onset of anxiety symptoms, just before you are in a situation where you will be around people.
However, benzodiazepines should be used with caution. They often cause drowsiness and coordination problems, and people who take them should not drive or participate in other potentially dangerous activities for several hours after a dose. Additionally, benzodiazepines are associated with tolerance, dependence, and addiction. It can be hard to stop using these medicines, even if you have only been taking them for a few days. You may also experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if you stop them abruptly.
In some cases, long-acting drugs that affect neurotransmitters in the brain, such asselective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), it can be necessary. These may include Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Celexa (citalopram), and Zoloft (sertraline).
Anthropophobia is an irrational and overwhelming fear of people. it's different to feeluncomfortable in social situations. This condition causes anxiety symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, chest pain, and dizziness. Treatment often includes psychotherapy, relaxation, and mindfulness techniques, and possibly medications such as benzodiazepines and SSRIs.
A word from Verywell
Having an irrational fear of people can make it difficult to function in today's society. Working with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, can help you move effectively toward recovery. There isSupport groupsavailable. If a face-to-face support group is too difficult or uncomfortable, consider a virtual support group or one-on-one session to learn how other people are living with their condition.
Verywell Health only uses high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processfor more information on how we verify and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
Boston Children's Hospital.Symptoms and causes of phobias.
The choice of therapy.Anthropophobia (fear of people): symptoms, treatments and how to deal with it.
Psychological Times.Anthropophobia (fear of people or society).
Perelman School of Medicine.specific phobias.
PsychCentral.All about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
PsychCentral.What is exposure therapy?
Health of Saint Luke.Start with deep breathing to reduce anxiety..
Los Angeles Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.medicines for phobias.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America.medication options.
ByAubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing face-to-face and online education to medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injuries, neurological diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living. .
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