Phobophobia – Causes, Effects And Treatment

By Nicola Kirkpatrick

Updated December 17, 2018

Reviewer Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC

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Phobias are irrational and intense fears that arise via stimuli that are non-dangerous. Most people have heard of arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and social phobia, however, the subject of this article is less well-known about. Phobophobia is the term for fear of phobias in general. It also describes the fear of sensations you feel inside when you're anxious due to a phobia. Having a fear of fear or an all-encompassing fear of ending up with a phobia is debilitating. You're scared of allowing yourself to show you're scared.

How Does Phobophobia Work?

To clarify, when you have phobophobia you will either be:

  • Incredibly scared of developing a phobia, or
  • Incredibly scared of anxiety and phobia symptoms

The name phobophobia derives from Phobos, the Greek word for fear or flight. Therefore, when you put the two parts of the term together, they mean fear of fear. This is a terrifying concept for many people. When you have phobophobia, you may find that your life is no longer anything like you wish it to be.

The anxiety condition is sometimes linked to claustrophobia (fear of enclosed and small spaces), nosophobia (fear of becoming sick) and also agoraphobia (fear of open spaces or the fear of not being able to escape). In the main, this condition is self-limiting as you may have phobias already become frightened of gaining more. And so, the cycle goes on. Conversely, you could have no phobias at all but might have found yourself changing your usual daily routine to avoid the possibility of ever getting one.

Fear Of Anxiety And Phobia Symptoms

Many sufferers experience the latter of the two forms. This is particularly true for people prone to severe anxiety or panic attacks. They become scared of experiencing further anxiety attacks, ones that are associated with upsetting physical symptoms.

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For some people, their anxiety symptoms may be so intense that they become very distressed. Sometimes, the anxiety response can feel like a heart attack. Many people in this category develop a fear as their anxiety symptoms are so intense.

Fear Of Gaining A New Phobia

Experiencing fear of developing a new phobia is rarer than the fear of anxiety and phobia symptoms, but it is still just as real. If you already have other phobias, you may be more likely to fear gaining a new one. You might feel that because you already have phobias, you will end up having another one. This makes you feel anxious of the future.

Having a phobia is out of your control, no matter how irrational it may seem.There is help there, and we'll discuss your options a little later.

What Causes Phobophobia?

Being terrified of fear itself and fearing gaining phobias may sound a little unlikely. However, if you have phobophobia, it's real. You're more likely to suffer from the condition if you already have anxiety disorders. Phobophobia stems from a panic disorder where panic is defined as the sudden onset of hysterical and unreasonable fear.

Your formative years and upbringing can play a role in the development of phobophobia. Perhaps your parents or primary caregivers were very anxious or had phobias. If you have other anxiety disorders you haven't sought treatment for, you could have a predisposition to other phobias. Therefore, it's always best to get help as soon as possible.

How Does Phobophobia Affect Your Life?

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Having phobophobia impacts every area of your life. You might find you no longer enjoy participating in the activities you once enjoyed as your fear is just too high. Symptoms of phobophobia are like those of other phobias and include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme dread
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Lack of focus
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Feeling powerless
  • Feelings or fear of losing control
  • Obsessive thoughts about the subject of your phobia

You may find that your life becomes difficult as you are plagued by thoughts of horrible outcomes when you think or speak about your fear. You begin to feel you can't move forward in life. You may experience such intense panic attacks you feel you have a heart attack and your life is in danger.

It is often difficult to identify what triggers these extreme reactions. Therefore, your symptoms can occur at any time of the day. You may not even be able to identify that you have a phobia until your daily life becomes disturbed. If you're seeing a pattern of your symptoms, the best thing to do is to get help as soon as you can before the situation becomes any worse. With this in mind, let's look at some of the treatments for the condition.

Treatments For Phobophobia

Phobophobia can cause you a great deal of harm and personal upset when it's left untreated. Ways to help yourself include yoga and meditation. These practices help you stay calm. However, treatments enable you to get well and stay as calm as possible when you're faced with your fears. So, what treatment can help?

Medications

Your doctor can prescribe you medication to help you relax. However, these are only for short-term use and won't make your phobia go away, so therapy is a better option.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy treats your phobia by focusing on your subconscious mind. It reveals the source of your fear and enables you to believe your fears are irrational. Hypnotherapy is safe. It also works.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is the study and practice of how you create and imagine your reality. NLP influences the way your brain behaves using language and other methods of communication to reprogram the way your brain responds to aspects you're scared of. It enables you to develop better and new behaviors, so you can live a "normal" life again.

Psychotherapy

Both behavior and cognitive behavioral therapies can be used to help you to re-approach your phobia to enable it to be cured.

If you're considering seeking therapy for your condition, it's crucial to find an accredited, licensed and qualified professional therapist. BetterHelp.com is the largest e-counseling platform in the world. To get started you need to answer a few quick questions about yourself and your condition to be matched with the right therapist for you. To begin, go to https://www.betterhelp.com/start/.

Self-help

There are various techniques you can employ to reduce the impact your phobia has on your life. In addition to therapy, you could try some of the following:

  • Talk to a person you trust. It might not feel like it,but by talking to someone you trust, you can feel less anxious about your phobia. Just having someone there to listen to you in a non-judgmental way can make you feel less alone and isolated.
  • Try some relaxation techniques. If you're feeling particularly stressed and worried, try just stepping away from the source of your stress. Have a break from your routine to try doing something fun that will create distance from your upsets. You could try relaxing for 30 minutes in the tub for example,or you could take the time to focus on breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Learn to manage your panic attacks.This probably sounds easier said than done. However, there are some techniques you can employ to help yourself cope when the worst happens. During an attack, you can focus on your breathing. Ground yourself and stay connected to the present by listening to sounds around you, wrapping yourself in a blanket and focusing on how it feels and by sniffing something that has a strong smell. Doing these things enables you to focus on the sensations you are feeling right at that moment and can help you calm down.
  • Try joining a support group. You can try joining a local or online support group. You'll then have the opportunity to share your experiences with others and find out how other phobic people cope with their challenges on a day-to-day basis. It can be incredibly comforting to know that you aren't alone and that other people are going through similar experiences to yourself.

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Phobophobia responds well to treatment. As the condition is often connected with other anxiety disorders, it's crucial to treat all your conditions at the same time. Your therapist helps by diagnosing any other disorders you may have. This way, they can create a customized treatment plan that meets your own unique needs. Fear of fear is difficult to manage on your own, but with the right treatment, you will be free to live life on your terms again. It's time to take that next step.


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