Phobophobia – Causes, Effects And Treatment

By Nicola Kirkpatrick|Updated April 13, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC

When someone experiences a phobia, they have intense fears that are usually considered irrational. These fears arise via typical stimuli that are statistically unlikely to cause harm. Most people may have heard of arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and social phobia; however, the subject of this article is less well known.

Phobophobia is the term for fear of phobias in general. It also describes the fear of sensations when experiencing anxiety due to a phobia. Having a fear of fear or an all-encompassing fear of ending up with a phobia may be debilitating. In essence, Phobophobia is the fear of allowing yourself to show that you’re scared.

How Does Phobophobia Work?

To clarify, when you have Phobophobia, you may be:

  • Scared of developing a phobia and
  • Scared of anxiety and phobia symptoms

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 can be 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). This condition may be limiting as you may already have phobias and become frightened of potentially gaining more. This continuous fear can create a vicious cycle.

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

Individuals living with Phobophobia may experience the latter of the two forms — fear of anxiety and phobia symptoms. This may be particularly true for people prone to severe anxiety or panic attacks. They may become scared of experiencing further anxiety attacks — those that are associated with upsetting physical symptoms.

Their anxiety symptoms may be so intense that they become extremely distressed for some people. Sometimes, the anxiety response may even feel like a heart attack. Some people in this category may fear experiencing these symptoms and feelings as their anxiety symptoms are so intense.

Fear Of Gaining A New Phobia

Experiencing the fear of developing a new phobia is rarer than the fear of anxiety and phobia symptoms, but it is still just as legitimate. 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 surely develop others. This may make you feel anxious about the future and generally fearful.

What Causes Phobophobia?

You may be more likely to experience this condition if you already live with an anxiety disorder. Phobophobia stems from a panic disorder, defined as the sudden onset of hysterical and unreasonable fear.

Your formative years and upbringing may play a role in developing Phobophobia. Perhaps your parents or primary caregivers experienced anxiety or phobias. If you experience other anxiety disorders which you haven’t sought treatment for, it may be possible you have a predisposition for other phobias as well. If you’re experiencing anxiety or phobias and affect your quality of life, it may be beneficial to seek help.

How Does Phobophobia Affect Your Life?

Having Phobophobia can potentially impact many areas of your life. You might find you no longer enjoy participating in the activities you once enjoyed as your fear prevents you from doing so. Symptoms of Phobophobia are often like those of other phobias and may 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 of fear of losing control
  • Obsessive thoughts about the subject of your phobia

You may find that your daily life becomes difficult to manage if you experience obsessive thoughts of potential horrible outcomes when you think or speak about your fear. You may begin to feel that you can’t move forward in life as your fear or anxiety prevents you from doing so. You may experience intense panic attacks that feel like a heart attack, or you may feel as though your life is in genuine danger.

It can often be difficult to identify what triggers these extreme reactions in phobia symptoms. Your symptoms may occur at any time of the day, for example. You may not even identify that you have a phobia until your daily life becomes disturbed by the symptoms. If you begin to see a pattern of your symptoms, it may be beneficial to get help as soon as you can to prevent the symptoms from worsening. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the treatments for the condition.

Treatments For Phobophobia

Phobophobia may cause you a great deal of harm and personal upset when left untreated.

Self-help / Self-care

There are various techniques you can employ to reduce the impact your phobia has on your life. You can try reducing your symptoms with self-help or self-care, including taking on a hobby that seems daunting. In addition to therapy or other treatment methods (outlined below), you could try some of the following self-care methods:

  • Talk to a person you trust. Having a healthy support system is vital for well-being. Talking to someone you trust, like a family member, a friend, or a loved one, may help you feel less anxious about your phobia. Just having someone there to listen to you in a non-judgmental way can often help you feel less alone and isolated. They may also be able to offer support or advice.
  • Yoga and meditation. These practices may help reduce anxiety and stress while practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness may teach you to respond to stress more healthily and be aware of the present moment instead of acting instinctively. These mindfulness practices may be a great way to reduce your symptoms, which you can do from the comfort of your home.
  • 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 something fun that will create distance from your upsets. You could try relaxing for 30 minutes in the bath. You may even want to try deep breathing techniques, which can be a helpful way to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Learn to manage your panic attacks. There are some techniques you can employ that may help you cope with panic attacks. During an attack, you can try focusing on your breathing. To do this, ground yourself and stay connected to the present by practicing deep breathing while listening to sounds around you, wrapping yourself in a blanket and focusing on how it feels, or by sniffing something that has a strong smell. Doing these things may enable you to focus on the sensations you are feeling in the present moment and may help you find a place of calm.
  • Try joining a support group. A local or online support group may be incredibly helpful if you’re experiencing anxiety or phobias. Support groups may allow you to share your experiences with others with similar phobias or mental health concerns. You may learn new and helpful ways to cope by learning about their challenges on a day-to-day basis and what works for them. It may also be incredibly comforting to know that you aren’t alone and that others are going through similar experiences.

Besides self-help practices, other treatments, such as CO2 treatments, may reduce symptoms and treat Phobophobia.

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help reduce symptoms of anxiety or phobias. However, these may only prove effective as a short-term solution. If you’re considering medication for anxiety or phobias, it’s important to consult a physician or mental health professional.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy may be another treatment option to help with your phobia. Hypnotherapy may help by focusing on your subconscious mind. The goal of hypnotherapy is to reveal the source of your fear and then enable you to understand that your fears are irrational. Hypnotherapy is considered a safe treatment option.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is the study and practice of how you create and imagine your reality. NLP may influence the way your brain behaves using language and other methods of communication to reprogram the way your brain responds to subjects you may be fearful of. It may enable you to develop new, healthier behaviors.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, often known as talk therapy, includes various techniques that aim to support an individual in identifying and changing difficult thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Both behavior and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) are types of psychotherapies that may be used to help you re-approach and treat your phobia. If you’re considering seeking therapy for your condition, it’s important to find an accredited, licensed, and qualified professional therapist. BetterHelp is the largest e-counseling platform globally and can match you with a licensed therapist that best suits your needs so you can overcome any mental health concerns you may be experiencing.

Phobophobia usually responds well to treatment. As the condition is often connected with other anxiety disorders, treating all your conditions simultaneously may be important. Your therapist may be able to help by diagnosing mental health concerns you may have and creating a customized treatment plan that meets your own unique needs. Fear of fear may be difficult to manage on your own, but you may be free to live life on your terms again with the right treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out today for support.

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