Why I Am Afraid of People

Kishwer Perveen

Why AM I Afraid of People

Fear of people is more than an emotion. It’s actually a psychological disorder, also known as anthropophobia: “A profound fear of human beings, or of human society. “Similar to shyness and social phobia. A person with this condition is afraid both of interacting with and being around other people. The person with anthropophobia doesn’t just feel a bit of nervousness what chatting with someone. They are considerably afraid, and this intensity of emotions makes their condition more similar to social phobia. If you are excessively afraid of people to the point that it interferes with your daily functioning, you might be living with the social anxiety disorder (SAD). People with SAD are intensely afraid of social and performance situations for fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or judged negatively. Whether you are fearful of just one type of situation, such as public speaking, or most social situations, social anxiety can have a severely limiting effect on your life. This disorder is more than just shyness and requires diagnosis and treatment by a mental health professional.

We are often trying to protect ourselves from perceived threats believed to be coming from other people. Perhaps in the past when you were innocently open towards someone you were hurt or abused in some way. Perhaps just when you felt you could trust someone, they let you down or proved to be untrustworthy. Perhaps you feel you have a certain responsibility towards others and if you fail you feel guilty and bad. Maybe you learnt ways to manipulate and control others because you were scared. Maybe you have innocently copied behaviour that your parents or other role models repeated out of their own fear. Maybe you didn’t have any role model who was courageously open and vulnerable. Maybe the only way that you know how to relate to others is from fear and self-protection.

We don’t know the precise reasons why some people develop this problem and others do not; however, research suggests it is probably a combination of genetic factors and your environment. Scientists have found specific gene variations potentially related to social anxiety; the situations in which you are afraid of people might vary if you live with social anxiety disorder. Some people have very narrow worries, such as only being afraid of speaking in public. This type of social anxiety is usually less chronic and severe than if you fear most social and performance situations. In general, people with social anxiety disorder usually feel the worst in situations where they are the centre of attention or feel as though they are being judged in some way. If you are afraid of people, your fear might manifest itself in a variety of symptoms, such as A racing heart, Shortness of breath, Sweating and Shaking hands etc. In addition to being afraid of people, if you have social anxiety you will also be afraid that others will notice your anxiety. This “fear of fear” or cycle of panic that develops can be hard to break free from on your own. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for this problem. Fear of people can be overcome. The fact this fear can be so intense and all-encompassing is not in any way an indicator that’s its permanent. With proper guidance and with some consistent work, you can stop fearing people and learn to enjoy social interactions. In order to achieve this, what you need is to develop new, more constructive thinking habits regarding people and your relation to them. As these new ways of thinking skink in, your fear of people will dissipate.

 

There are two types of interventions that work in learning this new type of thinking habits. 1) Progressive Exposure. When you fear people, you are inclined to avoid them. Unfortunately, this only keeps the fear alive. In order to overcome it, it’s crucial to do the very opposite and expose yourself to social settings and interpersonal interactions more .2) Correcting Your Thoughts: it’s also important to directly address those negative thoughts that make you fear people. This implies noticing them when they appear, recognizing what’s faulty about them and replacing them with more rational thoughts. Essentially, you need to consciously practice thinking in a more constructive way. And with practice, this new way of thinking overpowers the old one and becomes second nature. And so the fear dissipates.

Social anxiety disorder is best treated using a combination of medication and therapy. Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first choice in terms of medication treatment for social anxiety disorder. When combined with talk therapy such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), treatment success rates are very good. I encourage you to bear in mind that the fear of people is something you’ve learned. And anything that you can learn, you can unlearn. It’s easier said than done, but with effective action and perseverance, it can be done. And it’s more than worth it. When you stop fearing people, you are able to get out of the house more, meet people, talk to them, make friends, build fulfilling relationships and have a great time with others. Your life will never be the same.

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