Do you become anxious at the thought of crowds? If you hate going to the grocery store because there are lots of people, you may have what is called Enochlophobia.
Enochlophobia, which is having a fear of crowds, is also known as Ochlophobia (fear of mobs) and Demophobia(fear of masses of people). Enochlophobia pronounced (en-ah-cla-foh-bee-uh) is closely related to Agoraphobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations where you feel trapped, uncomfortable, embarrassed and may cause you to have a panic attack.
A common social phobia Enochlophobia is linked to a traumatic life event, stress, or genetics. More common in women than men, each person experiences symptoms differently.
Symptoms Of Enocholphobia
Not everyone who is uncomfortable with crowds lives with Enocholphobia. This phobia is usually accompanied by:
- Increased heart rate
- Panic Attacks
- Racing thoughts
- Trembling or shaking
- Breathing fast
- Wanting to run
- Being aggressive
- Muscle tension
- Blacking Out
- Stomach pain
If you are in a crowded situation, feeling trapped, you may experience cognitive, physical, and behavioral symptoms.
Try keeping a logbook to understand better which symptoms you experience. Write down in your journal, which situations cause you anxiety, symptoms included, such as how you reacted, what happened, and how you felt.
Your mental health professional will be able to help you better see which patterns make you anxious and put in place a treatment plan.
Enochlophobia is not a recognized mental health disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) but is considered a specific phobia.
For you to be diagnosed with the fear of crowds, your symptoms must have persisted for more than six months and not be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or Agoraphobia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – The most common treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, which targets your thought patterns and how you react.
CBT will help you identify negative thinking patterns and replace them with more positive thoughts.
You will slowly face your fears in these situations. You will start with the easiest method, which is thinking and talking about crowds to the hardest part, which is being in the crowd itself.
Your relaxation techniques, which you learned, will help you manage your thoughts, your anxiety, and desensitize your physical reaction to the crowd.
Mindfulness – Being present and practicing mindfulness meditations for anxiety will help you with your fear of crowds.
You will learn not to worry about the past or the future. Only focus on the here and now.
Focusing directly on the crowd may make you nervous, so instead, focus on what you can smell, see, feel, and hear. These grounding techniques will get your mind off the crowd and focus your mind and energy on something else.
Self Treatment – Find things positive about the crowd instead of looking at all the negatives. Building new stable positive connections will help your mind focus on better outcomes.
This takes time, and you will need to practice. Put yourself into situations you are uncomfortable but also enjoy. Slowly work your way into your most fearful situation. Start by being near the crowd and slowly work your way up to be within the crowd — not all at once but over time.
Bring a friend or family member with you while you go to public places or stores. This person should positively help you.
Also, find an exit strategy and be safe. Stay near the edge of the crowd go with the flow. Don’t work against the group.
Recognize the signs a crowd is unstable such as a shopping event like black friday when people are moving fast towards something. Learning that most crowds are safe will help you lessen your fear.
Professional Treatment For Enochlophobia
If you have tried everything and still have a fear of crowds, seek a mental health professional. Anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed to help you relax if you have severe anxiety.
There are other therapies for Enochlophobia, such as Hypnotherapy and Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
This article is only an overview and does not present the full list of symptoms of a specific phobia nor a complete list of solutions.
If you or someone has Enochlophobia or other symptoms from fear of crowds, I recommend seeking the help of a licensed psychotherapist who will be able to help you end your anxiety towards crowds.