Enochlophobia refers to a fear of crowds. It is closely associated with agoraphobia, which is a fear of places or circumstances and ochlophobia, which is a fear of mob-like crowds. Generally speaking a fear of crowds has more to do with the perceived risks posed by big gatherings of people you may encounter in your daily life. It also involves the fear of being trapped, lost, or harmed in a crowd. Using hypnotherapy, I help people at my London clinic reduce their fear of crowds.
A fear of crowds explained
This fear comes under the umbrella of phobias, which are considered irrational worries that may trigger severe anxiety. In fact, the US National Institute of Mental Health estimates that about 12.5% of Americans will experience phobias at some point throughout their life time.
If you have a fear of crowds, you could find certain situations difficult, particularly if you live or work in a highly populated area. Even though there’s no recognised medical diagnosis for enochlophobia, some types of therapy, especially hypnotherapy or similar interventions, can help you conquer your worries. Other treatments can assist with associated symptoms. In London I often see people who have a more general anxiety and fear of crowds is included. Using hypnotherapy we work also on general anxiety or any other challenges that are affecting their anxiety.
How a fear of crowds impacts daily life
Phobias like enochlophobia can lead to strong anxiety over events unlikely to even happen. Even though you might realise that this sort of intense anxiety about crowds isn’t rational, it doesn’t reduce the real panic that can take place as a result of your phobia.
If you have fear of crowds, you could experience intense nervousness whenever you come across a crowd of people. Your fear might not be restricted to typically crowded events, such as festivals, sporting events games, or theme parks. You may also experience a fear of crowds, which you could experience on a daily basis, in places including:
- on a bus, train, or other kinds of public transportation
- at movie theatres
- at supermarkets or shopping malls
- at outdoor parks
- at beaches or public swimming pools
- at work or university or school
It is not only direct contact with crowds that can trigger fear of crowds. Sometimes, just thinking about being in a crowd might bring about stress and anxiety. This is why I’m such a strong advocate for the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for this phobia. Hypnotherapy is great for calming down those worrying thoughts about future situations.
The symptoms of a fear of crowds
The symptoms of fear of crowds are often just like those of anxiety. They include:
- elevated heart rate
- stomach ache
Over time, your fear of crowds may make you feel like you can’t take part in certain activities. This can result in additional psychological symptoms, such as depression, low self-esteem, and reduced self-confidence.
Causes of a fear of crowds
Even though the exact cause of enochlophobia isn’t known, it’s believed that phobias may be connected to anxiety disorders. They may also be acquired or inherited. If one of your parents has a history of fearing crowds, then you might have picked up on their phobias as a child and eventually developed some of the same anxieties yourself.
Though a certain phobia may run in your family, you might also develop a different kind of anxiety from your parents and relatives. For example, one individual may have agoraphobia or social phobia, whilst you could have fear of crowds.
Negative previous experiences could also result in a fear of crowds.
For example, if you once got injured in a crowd or lost in a large group of people, you may subconsciously believe that a similar event may happen again. Your mind will likely then tell you that you need to steer clear of crowds to keep from experiencing any threat. This is something which I frequently treat at my London clinic.
What sets apart a fear of crowds from a general aversion of crowds is that the anxiety could take over your daily living in unwanted ways. Due to your anxiety, you could practice avoidance, so that you change your routine and patterns to ensure that you don’t come across any crowds.
Avoidance can help you feel at ease since it helps keep your phobia symptoms at bay. But it may put you at a disadvantage in the long term. It may cause you to lose out on significant experiences or enjoyable activities, and it could cause problems with family or friends.
How to manage a fear of crowds
Since enochlophobia can result in intense anxieties, it could be a challenge to live with. You may especially struggle if you’re regularly confronted with crowds of people.
Avoidance might help, but relying on this practice constantly may make your phobia even worse. Rather, you could choose other strategies that might help you better live with or even decrease your fear of crowds.
As well as therapy or hypnotherapy tools such as Mindfulness are effective ways to ease your fear of crowds. Give attention to being in the moment, so your mind doesn’t wander to what-if scenarios. Doing this can enable you to stay grounded and stop irrational anxieties from appearing.
If you do come across a large crowd or plan on being in one, try to imagine yourself safe and confident in your environment. Whenever possible, you could ask a friend or loved one to go along with you to a crowded event.
Strategies to reduce a fear of crowds
Decreasing anxiety could also help you manage symptoms of fear of crowds. Everyday approaches include:
- physical exercise
- a healthy diet
- enough sleep
- sufficient hydration
- less caffeinated drinks
- relaxation approaches, such as breathing exercises
- time spent on activities you enjoy
- social activities that involve small groups
Treatments for a fear of crowds
Therapy is the principal type of treatment for fear of crowds. It may include a combination of talking therapy and desensitisation strategies, such as the following:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps you work through your anxieties and discover ways to substitute irrational thinking patterns with rational ones.
Hypnotherapy. I use hypnotherapy to help people with a fear of crowds. In the safety of the consulting room, you will use visualisations and other hypnotherapy tools to feel calm and at ease again in those situations which used to prompt anxiety.
Exposure therapy. In this type of desensitisation, you are gradually exposed to crowds. Your therapist could even go along with you.
Virtual reality technology. This emerging type of exposure therapy might help you desensitise yourself to crowds without physically being in them.
Visual therapy. With visual therapy, you’re shown images and images of crowds to help reshape your thinking before real-life direct exposure.
Group therapy. Group therapy can connect you with others who also deal with phobias.
At times, a doctor might prescribe medications to help relieve anxiety symptoms you might experience with enochlophobia. Therapists can’t prescribe these. Possible medication options include antidepressants, beta-blockers, and sedatives.
When to talk with a medical professional about your fear of crowds
If you or a loved one has a fear of crowds, odds are you’re already fully aware of what sort of phobia it is. Not all phobias require medical attention, but if your fear of crowds is severe enough to restrict your everyday life, it may be beneficial to discuss it with a health practitioner.
Your GP is a good starting point. Depending on the intensity of your symptoms, your doctor might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for more assessment.
No medical test can diagnose enochlophobia. Rather, your GP may have you complete a questionnaire that lets you rate the regularity and seriousness of your symptoms. Your GP can also assist you to identify what causes your anxieties so you can work through them.
Seeing a mental health professional can take guts, but the sooner you seek help, the better the outcome for your intense fear of crowds. You probably won’t conquer your anxieties right away. However using ongoing therapy or hypnotherapy over several weeks or months, you can learn to change your current way of thinking.
A fear of crowds – the conclusion
A general dislike of crowds isn’t typically a cause for concern. But if you have an intense fear of them, you might have fear of crowds. If this fear interferes with your daily routine and quality of life, it’s time to talk with your GP and ask for some advice. If you would like to find out more about hypnotherapy for a fear of crowds or other anxieties click here.