Anthropophobia and Social Phobia – what is the difference?
by Harley Therapy | Stress and Anxiety
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 themsleves, 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
Inability to formulate coherent thoughts
Fight or flight responses, presenting in an intense need to escape
Fear of judgement
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. Behavioral training including systematic desensitization, where a patient is gradually exposed to stronger triggers can help too.