Anthropophobia is the fear of people. It is not a formal clinical diagnosis. Many experts view the condition as a specific phobia. People with anthropophobia feel intense fear or anxiety at the thought of being around other people. Unlike other social anxiety disorders, anthropophobia is fear of people themselves, not of social situations.
Anthropophobia is a fear of people. People with anthropophobia may avoid crowds, fear eye contact or worry that they are being judged. Anthropophobia is not a clinical disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but many people consider it a specific phobia.
Like other specific phobias, anthropophobia involves intense anxiety that’s not proportional to the actual threat. Many people with specific phobias are aware that the fear is irrational. But they have difficulty controlling symptoms or intrusive, fearful thoughts.
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Anthropophobia can be part of a social anxiety disorder, but the two terms are not exactly the same. People with social anxiety disorder feel intense distress in social situations, such as going on a date or talking to a waiter. People with anthropophobia feel afraid of people, regardless of setting.
Social phobia (sociophobia) is the former name for social anxiety disorder. Someone with social anxiety disorder might not feel anxious if they are in a crowd where no one knows them. But someone with anthropophobia feels anxious in any crowd. Their fear is specific to people, not specific to social settings.
Anthropophobia and other specific phobias are most common in teenagers and females. About 1 in 5 adolescents experience a specific phobia at some point. Around 1 in 10 adults experience a specific phobia in their lifetime.
Anthropophobia doesn’t always have a clear cause. You may be more likely to develop anthropophobia if you have or have experienced:
Many people with anthropophobia feel “anticipatory anxiety.” Anticipatory anxiety is dread, worry or fear about an upcoming event. With anthropophobia, people may worry excessively before being around other people. They may feel anxious about:
This anxiety often causes physical symptoms. People may experience:
Anthropophobia does not have specific clinical diagnostic guidelines. Still, your healthcare provider may identify symptoms of anthropophobia by asking:
Sometimes, the fear of people is a symptom of another diagnosis, such as social anxiety disorder. Anthropophobia may also be closely related to taijin kyofusho. Taijin kyofusho is distress or fear of interpersonal relationships, specifically the fear of offending others. It is a culture-specific diagnosis found in Korea and Japan.
People may also experience anthropophobia along with:
There is no cure for anthropophobia. But, for many people, symptoms improve with treatment. For some, the fear of people decreases enough that it no longer interferes with day-to-day life.
There is no one specific treatment for anthropophobia. Some treatments for specific phobias may help:
People with anthropophobia can also learn relaxation techniques. Practicing these techniques can help you lower anxiety, especially when exposed to what you are afraid of. You may:
There is no guaranteed way to prevent anthropophobia. If you struggle with anxious thoughts or behaviors, healthy habits may help reduce how severe your symptoms are. You may:
With proper treatment, most people find that symptoms of anthropophobia improve. Without treatment, anthropophobia can increase your risk of:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Anthropophobia is the fear of people. It is not the same as social anxiety disorder. Instead of fearing social situations, people with anthropophobia specifically fear people. Anthropophobia may cause physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating or nausea. If a fear of people interferes with your daily life, speak with a healthcare provider. Treatment may include therapy, medication or practicing relaxation techniques at home.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/30/2021.
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