Fear of someone

Anthropophobia: Causes, Signs, and Treatments

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

In this Article

  • Causes of Anthropophobia
  • Symptoms of Anthropophobia
  • Treatments for Anthropophobia

Anthropophobia is the fear of people. The National Institute of Mental Health does not use the term. But if you search for the term on the NIMH website, the result "social anxiety disorder" turns up. Some researchers say it is the same as sociophobia, or social phobia, a fear of social gatherings. 

Other researchers say the fear goes deeper than that. If you have sociophobia, you might feel comfortable in an anonymous social setting, say, a random crowd of people. With anthropophobia, you will likely feel just as anxious in that crowd as in any other social setting. 

You can be a little anthropophobic or extremely so. If you have an extreme case, you may find it hard to deal with even one person at a time, even a loved one. You may prefer to only converse with people electronically.

Anthropophobia can even lead you to quit work or school to avoid social situations. Anthropophobia will not allow you to fulfill your basic human need for connection with other people. It causes conflict in your  brain.

Causes of Anthropophobia

All phobias are often linked to trauma in a person’s history. In some cases, just one extremely bad experience is enough to cause anthropophobia. But often it comes about after a series of bad experiences. 

Betrayal from close loved ones can trigger this phobia. What begins as one betrayal can bring about a larger trust issue for a person. From there, it can grow into a complete fear of people and all social interactions.

Anthropophobia can also stem from your adrenal glands not working properly. Hormones from your adrenal glands can help or hurt how you deal with stress. Thyroid and heart problems can also be the culprit in anxiety disorders in general.

Sometimes there is a history of anxiety in the person’s family.  

Symptoms of Anthropophobia

People sometimes don’t recognize early symptoms of anthropophobia. It can start with a person being unwilling to make eye contact with others, and with worrying about being watched. Along with that, the person is likely anxious about the possibility of being judged.

A clearer symptom is “anticipatory anxiety,” how a person stresses over an upcoming social event.  You may end up experiencing stomach problems, sleeping disorders, and headaches as the date draws near. 

Panic attacks are also common. They can come about when an anthropophobic person does have to face other people. Symptoms include:‌

  • Sweating and shaking‌
  • Reddening of the skin‌
  • Finding it hard to breathe, speak, or make decisions‌
  • Wanting to run away‌
  • Having the feeling that something bad is about to happen‌
  • Heart beating too fast

Treatments for Anthropophobia

A common fear among mental health specialists is that anthropophobia and other anxiety issues will lead people suffering from them to take comfort in recreational drugs and alcohol. They may even abuse prescription medications such as sedatives.

Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse usually just makes things worse if you are anthropophobic and trying to keep a job and deal with people.

If you are anthropophobic, know that there are several available treatment options. Although difficult, early detection is key for stopping the progression of this phobia.

Treatment can be as simple as therapy sessions designed to change negative thoughts to positive thoughts. More extreme cases of anthropophobia will likely take longer to overcome and require more therapy.‌

A doctor will likely start with a complete physical to look for bodily causes of anxiety. The doctor may also prescribe medications to ease your symptoms and will check for warning signs of dependency. If you don’t want to take meds, you might also ask your doctor about hypnotherapy.

Mind-based therapies, or “talk therapy,” will likely be part of the treatment mix. Pieces of this type of therapy include:

Systematic desensitization. You begin by making a list of your fears and focus on relaxing while concentrating on what you fear. Start with what you fear the least and progress to what you fear the most. ‌

Challenges to old behaviors and teaching new ones — with homework.‌

Support groups.

Stress management. Some researchers point to meditation and also are looking at the possibility of exercise as ways to ease symptoms.

Anthropophobia can begin with a simple bad experience with someone, grow into social anxiety, and become a crippling fear of all people. If you have this severe condition, early detection and seeking professional help can help ease you out of it. An anxiety hotline might start you off. Since anthropophobia is the fear of people, it can be difficult to seek help from another person, even if they are a professional. However, contacting your doctor is a necessary step to begin recovery.

NIMH » Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness

Are you afraid of being judged by others? Are you self-conscious in everyday social situations? Do you avoid meeting new people due to fear or anxiety? If you have been feeling this way for at least 6 months and these feelings make it hard for you to do everyday tasks—such as talking to people at work or school—you may have social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. The good news is social anxiety disorder is treatable. Learn more about the symptoms of social anxiety disorder and how to find help.

What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a common type of anxiety disorder. A person with social anxiety disorder feels symptoms of anxiety or fear in situations where they may be scrutinized, evaluated, or judged by others, such as speaking in public, meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store. Doing everyday things, such as eating or drinking in front of others or using a public restroom, also may cause anxiety or fear due to concerns about being humiliated, judged, and rejected.

The fear that people with social anxiety disorder have in social situations is so intense that they feel it is beyond their control. For some people, this fear may get in the way of going to work, attending school, or doing everyday things. Other people may be able to accomplish these activities but experience a great deal of fear or anxiety when they do. People with social anxiety disorder may worry about engaging in social situations for weeks before they happen. Sometimes, they end up avoiding places or events that cause distress or generate feelings of embarrassment.

Some people with the disorder do not have anxiety related to social interactions but have it during performances instead. They feel symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, competing in a sports game, or playing a musical instrument on stage.

Social anxiety disorder usually starts during late childhood and may resemble extreme shyness or avoidance of situations or social interactions. It occurs more frequently in females than in males, and this gender difference is more pronounced in adolescents and young adults. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can last for many years, or even a lifetime.

What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder?

When having to perform in front of or be around others, people with social anxiety disorder may:

  • Blush, sweat, or tremble.
  • Have a rapid heart rate.
  • Feel their “mind going blank,” or feel sick to their stomach.
  • Have a rigid body posture, or speak with an overly soft voice.
  • Find it difficult to make eye contact, be around people they don’t know, or talk to people in social situations, even when they want to.
  • Feel self-consciousness or fear that people will judge them negatively.
  • Avoid places where there are other people.

What causes social anxiety disorder?

Risk for social anxiety disorder may run in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others don’t. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety and that genetics influences how these areas function. By studying how the brain and body interact in people with social anxiety disorder, researchers may be able to create more targeted treatments. In addition, researchers are looking at the ways stress and environmental factors play a role in the disorder.

How is social anxiety disorder treated?

If you’re concerned you may have symptoms of social anxiety disorder, talk to a health care provider. After discussing your history, a health care provider may conduct a physical exam to ensure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. A health care provider may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. The first step to effective treatment is to get a diagnosis, usually from a mental health professional.

Social anxiety disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy (sometimes called “talk therapy”), medication, or both. Speak with a health care provider about the best treatment for you.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a research-supported type of psychotherapy, is commonly used to treat social anxiety disorder. CBT teaches you different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations to help you feel less anxious and fearful. CBT also can help you learn and practice social skills, which is very important for treating social anxiety disorder. CBT has been well studied and is the gold standard for psychotherapy.

Exposure therapy is a CBT method that focuses on progressively confronting the fears underlying an anxiety disorder to help you engage in activities you have been avoiding. Exposure therapy is sometimes used along with relaxation exercises. CBT delivered in a group therapy format also can offer unique benefits for social anxiety disorder.

Another treatment option for social anxiety disorder is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). ACT takes a different approach than CBT to negative thoughts and uses strategies such as mindfulness and goal setting to reduce your discomfort and anxiety. Compared to CBT, ACT is a newer form of psychotherapy treatment, so less data are available on its effectiveness. However, different therapies work for different types of people, so it can be helpful to discuss what form of therapy may be right for you with a mental health professional.

For more information on psychotherapy, visit the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) psychotherapies webpage.


Health care providers may prescribe medication to treat social anxiety disorder. Different types of medication can be effective in treating this disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines

SSRI and SNRI antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression, but they also can help treat the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. They may take several weeks to start working. Antidepressants may also cause side effects, such as headaches, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. These side effects are usually not severe, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time. Talk to your health care provider about any side effects that you may experience.

Beta-blockers can help control some of the physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder, such as rapid heart rate, sweating, and tremors. Beta-blockers are commonly the medication of choice for the “performance anxiety” type of social anxiety disorder.

Benzodiazepines, which are anti-anxiety sedative medications, are powerful and begin working right away to reduce anxious feelings. These medications can be very effective in rapidly decreasing anxiety, but some people build up a tolerance to them and need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people even become dependent on them. Therefore, a health care provider may prescribe them only for brief periods of time if you need them.

Both psychotherapy and medication can take some time to work. Many people try more than one medication before finding the best one for them. A health care provider can work with you to find the best medication, dose, and duration of treatment for you. People with social anxiety disorder usually obtain the best results with a combination of medication and CBT or other psychotherapies.

For basic information about these and other mental health medications, visit NIMH’s Mental Health Medications webpage. Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for the latest warnings, patient medication guides, and information on newly approved medications. 

Support Groups

Many people with social anxiety find support groups helpful. In a group of people who all have social anxiety disorder, you can receive unbiased, honest feedback about how others in the group see you. This way, you can learn that your thoughts about judgment and rejection are not true or are distorted. You also can learn how others with social anxiety disorder approach and overcome the fear of social situations.

Support groups are available both in person and online. However, any advice you receive from a support group member should be used cautiously and does not replace treatment recommendations from a health care provider.

Both psychotherapy and medication can take some time to work. A healthy lifestyle also can help combat anxiety. Make sure to get enough sleep and exercise, eat a healthy diet, and turn to family and friends who you trust for support. To learn more ways to take care of your mental health, visit NIMH’s Caring for Your Mental Health webpage.

How can I support myself and others with social anxiety disorder?

Educate Yourself

A good way to help yourself or a loved one who may be struggling with social anxiety disorder is to seek information. Research the warning signs, learn about treatment options, and keep up to date with current research.


If you are experiencing social anxiety disorder symptoms, have an honest conversation about how you’re feeling with someone you trust. If you think that a friend or family member may be struggling with social anxiety disorder, set aside a time to talk with them to express your concern and reassure them of your support.

Know When to Seek Help

If your anxiety, or the anxiety of a loved one, starts to cause problems in everyday life—such as avoiding social situations at school, at work, or with friends and family—it’s time to seek professional help. Talk to a health care provider about your mental health.

Are there clinical trials studying social anxiety disorder?

NIMH supports a wide range of research, including clinical trials that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions—including social anxiety disorder. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.

Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct clinical trials with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to a health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH's clinical trials webpage.

Finding Help

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

This online resource, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), helps you locate mental health treatment facilities and programs. Find a facility in your state by searching SAMHSA’s online Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. For additional resources, visit NIMH's Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.

Talking to a Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health

Communicating well with a health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Find tips to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit at Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider. For additional resources, including questions to ask a provider, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.


This publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from NIMH. We encourage you to reproduce and use NIMH publications in your efforts to improve public health. If you do use our materials, we request that you cite the National Institute of Mental Health. To learn more about using NIMH publications, please contact the NIMH Information Resource Center at 1-866‑615‑6464, email [email protected], or refer to NIMH’s reprint guidelines.

For More Information

MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine) (en español)

ClinicalTrials.gov (en español)

National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 22-MH-8083
Revised 2022

Imposter Syndrome and Fear of Self Success

  • Raya Wessel
  • BBC Capital

Image copyright Paul Bradbury Getty Images

Image caption

Do you sometimes feel like you look like this in meetings? Congratulations, it's the impostor syndrome

Have you ever looked around and realized with inexorable clarity the inevitable: it's only a matter of time before someone discovers that you're only pretending and not at all as competent as you might seem from the outside? If yes, then you are not alone in this, the correspondent says BBC Capital .

This phenomenon has become so widespread that it has received a special name and a separate Wikipedia page. Its name is "Imposter Syndrome"* or "Imposter Phenomenon".

The syndrome occurs in both men and women ( previously thought to be a predominantly female trait - Rev. ). It can become destructive to the human personality.

However, there are effective ways to deal with the feeling of self-doubt that suppresses the will and mind. nine0011

(More articles on BBC Capital in Russian)

Caroline Holt, a consultant and career coach based in London, once worked with a woman who held a high position in one of the "Big Four" auditors** and was about to be promoted further - to the position of director.

Partners in the firm insisted that she take this position, but the woman resisted, although she wanted to get this job. According to her, she was afraid that the company might "realize that she is not at all as qualified as people think she is. " nine0011

Since Holt's client was the only breadwinner in the family, the stakes were high for her.

Holt helped her client deal with her fears and, most importantly, accept the fact that her achievements are the fruit of her talent and hard work.

The woman struggled to understand her own worth and worried that if she was "exposed" she might lose her job and be unable to support her child.

Image copyright Getty

Image caption,

Many suffer from low self-esteem

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If you've ever experienced that feeling of being an impostor, then you're in good company.

Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet is also in this shoes. nine0011

She once admitted: "Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, before I go to shoot, I think: I can't do it, I'm an impostor."

According to a New Yorker article. Sheryl Sandberg, board member of Facebook and best-selling author of Dare to Take Action, felt the same way.

There is most likely no reason for you to develop impostor syndrome.

But psychologists suggest that as you grow and learn professionally, you no-no, and even go beyond your personal comfort zone. nine0011

And your natural response is fear.

How can you learn to turn off your inner voice when it starts whispering these fears to you? Can you move on to the next level despite your doubts?

Think of self-doubt as a stage of development

When you are overcome by uncertainty about your own abilities, it is your inner invader speaking in you ( some authors call this phenomenon "internal masochist" - Ed. ), says Angela Negro, leadership and art of living coach from Toulouse. Dialogue with the "invader" is an integral part of the usual process of expanding your arsenal of competencies and skills. By learning to recognize your own raider, you can put him in his place.

What makes your inner masochist sound so convincing? He feeds on your fears - the fear of letting other people down, being arrogant or embarrassed.

Negro had a similar experience when she got a job at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris for which, by her own admission, she did not have the necessary experience. nine0011

She was 25 and away from home when a friend in France introduced her to her boss. “I got the job right away, as an educational consultant. And then I thought: now they will expose me and understand that I am pretending that I am suitable for this place.”

The inner critical voice arises and develops in childhood. Its purpose is to protect you, Negro says. An imaginary dialogue is not always conducted with parents; peers and teachers can also be interlocutors. nine0011

He guards us by forcing us to cling to the status quo, whether it's our current job or relationship, or taking the next step towards a dream.

Do you have impossible requirements?

Margaret Collins, who runs professional training and career development firm Lemonade Life Planning in the UK, helped one of her clients adjust to rapid success.

This client received a professorship at a British university at a very young age. She served on several scientific advisory boards in her area of ​​expertise and was internationally recognized for her erudition. nine0011

Image copyright Thinkstock

Image caption

Wearing a mask all your life? Finally be yourself!

"During our sessions, this client said that she thought the only reason she could be in this position was because she was the only, sort of, exemplary woman in a male-dominated profession. " Collins said.

For example, this woman claimed that although she published extensively in the professional journals read by her colleagues, she had to make an exceptional effort to do so. nine0011

"Men don't?" Collins asked her. "What does 'exceptional' mean? What does that look like? Would you expect anyone else to conform to your idea of ​​perfection?"

The woman realized that she was depriving herself of the pleasure of enjoying her own success.

"You could see her face letting go," Collins recalls. "She realized that her idea of ​​what's good was like a Wonder Woman."

Realize your own worth

Do you struggle to recognize your own accomplishments?

Do you brush off compliments by saying, "I just got lucky... It was a team effort... Nothing special..."?

If so, this may indicate that you are suffering from impostor syndrome or some of its elements.

Imagine the difference between self-confidence and self-esteem.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Image caption,

Do you set the bar too high for yourself?

Collins believes that there are differences between them: "Being confident means saying:" I know that I can do something - lose weight, learn a new language or climb a mountain. "While self-esteem and a sense of one's own destiny means believing that you are worth something."

Both are important, but self-esteem is the hardest thing to learn.

Experts like Negro and Holt encourage people to build self-esteem by focusing on their strengths. nine0011

Be specific about "what value you represent. Make a list of your strengths, skills, and experiences, and ask others what they see in you," recommends Holt.

Negro calls such a list of his own abilities a "win list".

A list of personal victories will help you understand if you are being too hard on yourself - for example, if you are not setting the bar too high for yourself.

If you understand this, then the first step has already been taken to silence that very inner masochist and overcome the impostor syndrome. nine0011

Translator's Note

*The term "Imposter Syndrome" is believed to have first been coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clanes and Susan Imes of Atlanta, Georgia. Their article was titled "The Impostor Phenomenon in Highly Successful Women. Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention."

** Leading international audit and consulting companies: Deloitte , 0028 , Ernst & Young , KPMG .

*** Women, Work And The Will To Lead. Russian translation "Do not be afraid to act. Woman, work and the will to lead" published in 2014 by Alpina Publisher .

Read original of this article in English is available on the site BBC Capital.

How to overcome the fear of communication? | Blog RSV

Contents of the article

Man is a social being, from birth he is surrounded by people. Throughout childhood and adolescence, a person learns to communicate with people, establish contact and build relationships. But despite this, many people experience fear of communicating with other people. Each new contact with a person causes great discomfort, they become recluses of their own beliefs. This prevents them from building a career, expanding their social circle and fulfilling themselves. The reasons for this behavior can be different, from self-doubt to a psychological disorder. We have prepared 5 effective ways to help you stop being afraid of communication and open up to strangers. We took useful information for the article from our free online course “Building Relationships the Right Way”. nine0011

Recognize the problem. Convince yourself that it doesn't matter

Admit to yourself that you are having difficulty communicating. Think about what internal blocks prevent you from easily interacting with people. Perhaps you are afraid of someone else's opinion or think that something is wrong with you. Tell yourself that it doesn't matter at all. It really doesn't matter what people think of you. Be yourself, consciously hold this thought whenever the fear returns.

Imagine a worst case scenario

Replay in your mind the worst scenarios of a conversation with another person. What terrible thing can happen? The interlocutor will think badly of you, will not want to continue the conversation? Then think about how this qualitatively can affect your life. Most likely, this will not turn your life upside down, will not force you to change jobs or move to another city. In this case, you should not attach great importance to this, and your interlocutor will not remember the unsuccessful conversation the very next day. nine0218

Get out of your comfort zone. Communicate with different people

In order to develop the skill of communication, it is important to constantly practice.

Learn more