Anthropophobia and Social Phobia – what is the difference?

by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Connecting with others is a key pillar of wellbeing. However certain disorders can deprive us of this basic need. One such disorder is the often misunderstood Anthropophobia, or a fear of people.

Resembling the more common social phobia Anthropophobia can cause a phobic reaction even when accompanied by just a single person.

Those experiencing Anthropophobia may withdraw socially, communicating only via letters, online or through text messages.

Anthropophobia and Social Phobia – the differences

Whereas social phobia is a diagnosis incorporating a diverse range of social fears, including public speaking or eating in front of people, Anthropophobia differs. In Anthropophobia, the fear is based around other people themselves, regardless of the situation. From loving relatives to unknown commuters, the sufferer perceives the same threat.

And with such subtle differences, proper diagnosis can prove problematic. Therefore, it is vital to seek professional help.

Anthropophobia – the causes

As with all phobias, previous experiences can increase the chances of anthropophobia. For example, if you have experienced violent crime or abuse, you may be more likely to develop the condition.

Plus, additional mental health or neurological conditions could increase your risk. Individuals on the autism spectrum, for example, can prefer to be alone. If not addressed with a balance of solitude and social skills, this fear of people could emerge. Paranoid individuals such as those with bipolar or schizophrenia are also at risk. For some, however, there is no tangible cause and the condition could occur at any time.

Anthropophobia – the symptoms

  • Sweating and shaking
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Racing pulse
  • Speech difficulties
  • Inability to formulate coherent thoughts
  • Fight or flight responses, presenting in an intense need to escape
  • Fear of judgement
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach problems or headaches, when thinking about an impending event

Left untreated, anthropophobia can worsen over time. Seeing a therapist can help you take control

Anthropophobia – treatment

Anthropophobia responds positively to therapy. During sessions, you can learn to become more positive, eradicating those fearful thoughts. Behavioural training including systematic desensitisation, where a patient is gradually exposed to stronger triggers can help too.

I'd like a personalised therapist recommendation for Anthrophobia/social phobia

If you'd like a personalised recommendation from the team, just sign up below and we will be in touch shortly:

Need a Therapy Session ASAP?

Here's who's next available...

See other available therapists ›
Are you a therapist?
Apply to be on the platform  ›