Enochlophobia: Fear of Crowds
What is Enochlophobia?
The impact of COVID-19 has caused a number of mental health issues to individuals around the globe. Isolation, death, and other consequences of the pandemic have led to people struggling with their mental health. One issue that may affect people in the wake of COVID-19 and the return to “normal” life, is enochlophobia, which is a fear of crowds.
Now that people are once again getting together, isolation and worries over contracting COVID-19 may make more people afraid of crowds. Enochlophobia is closely related to agoraphobia, which is a fear of places or situations. It is also closely tied to ochlophobia, a fear of mob-like crowds1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181152/.
There are some differences between enochlophobia and the other two phobias, however. People suffering from enochlophobia believe there is a “perceived danger” created by large crowds of people that may be encounter daily. People are also afraid they may get stuck, lost, or harmed in a crowd, no matter the size.
Enochlophobia is a part of a phobias category that is classed as irrational fears that may create severe anxiety in people. You may find specific situations challenging when it comes to gathering in crowds. Enochlophobia has no medical diagnosis, but there are some forms of therapy that can help you overcome the fear. Not all therapies work, but some can reduce or treat your symptoms.
How does enochlophobia affect your daily life?
Enochlophobia may lead you to feel intense fear about events that are unlikely to take place. Although you understand nothing will occur or that the fear is irrational, it is still intense. Enochlophobia is so intense that it dominates your daily life.
The intense fear created by enochlophobia occurs whenever you encounter a crowd of people. The fear my occur in typical situations such as sports events, theme parks, concerts, or festivals. However, this is not always the case.
Enochlophobia attacks people in smaller crowds and on a daily basis. You may suffer from a fear of crowds in such instances as:
- On public transportation
- At movie theater
- At grocery stores
- At shopping malls
- At outdoor parks
- At beaches and/or public swimming pools
A person doesn’t have to be in a crowd to suffer from an attack of enochlophobia. The phobia can occur when you think about being around a crowd or in a crowded place. Stress and anxiety can be triggered just from the thought of crowds. You work life or school studies can be affected greatly by enochlophobia.
What are the symptoms of enochlophobia?
You may not be able to participate in activities you love due to enochlophobia. This can occur gradually or all of a sudden. Being unable to participate in activities you previously did may cause additional psychological issues. You may become depressed, experience low self-esteem, and have reduced self-confidence.
The symptoms of enochlophobia are very similar to anxiety. Symptoms include:
- An increased heart rate
- A shortness of breath
What causes enochlophobia?
The exact cause or causes of enochlophobia are not known. However, it is believed that phobias could be linked with anxiety disorders. Phobias may be learned or hereditary, meaning you gained your phobia from a parent. If your parent had a fear of crowds, then you may have obtained the same fear as a child. As you got older and became an adult, the fear became a phobia. Certain phobias may be passed down in your family, but you may develop a different type of fear than your parents and other relatives.
A negative past experience may also lead to a fear of crowds and gatherings. If you experienced an injury in a crowd or became lost in a group of people, you may now have a fear that has grown subconsciously. The mind is powerful and the body follows it. The mind may now tell you to avoid crowds to stay away from dangerous situations.
Enochlophobia isn’t just a dislike of crowds. It is a fear that can take over daily life. You may begin to avoid people, crowds, and certain situations. This means you may alter your schedule and go out of your way to get away from crowds and crowded places.
By avoiding specific places and situations, you can keep the symptoms of enochlophobia at ease. However, it can cause issues long-term. You may skip important activities or experiences with friends and family just to avoid crowds.
How to manage enochlophobia?
Enochlophobia leads to intense fears of groups and crowds. It may make life a challenge as you attempt to avoid people and places. It can help to avoid people and places, but in the end, you are causing long-term issues, making the phobia worse. Rather than avoidance, it can help to improve your lifestyle, which may help reduce enochlophobia.
Many people have turned to mindfulness to treat the symptoms of enochlophobia. By focusing on being in the moment, you can keep your mind from unreasonable thoughts. Mindfulness can keep you from consistently thinking about your fears and prevent them from popping up.
When planning an activity in or around a large crowd, you should visualize yourself as confident, calm, relaxed, and safe in the surroundings. It is useful to invite a friend or family member along with you to the event. This may help you stay focused on the moment.
By reducing your anxiety, you may be able to manage enochlophobia symptoms. Some strategies include:
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Stay adequately hydration
- Consume less caffeine
- Employ relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises
- Focus on spending time on activities you enjoy
- Experience social activities that involve small groups
Are there treatments for enochlophobia?
Therapy is the main form of enochlophobia treatment. You may experience a combination of talk therapy and desensitization techniques, such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A type of talk therapy that allows you to work through your fears.
- Exposure therapy: You will be slowly exposed to crowds.
- Virtual reality technology: The therapy may allow you to desensitize yourself to crowds despite not being in real-life groups of people.
- Visual therapy: By using photographs, you will work to reshape your thinking of crowds.
- Group therapy: Group therapy may connect you with other people who are also dealing with phobias.
Just disliking crowds doesn’t mean you have a strong fear of them. However, avoiding them and suffering from the symptoms above may mean you are experiencing enochlophobia. If your daily routine has been affected by a fear of crowds, speak to your doctor.