Did you know that 9 out of 10 people admit to having some fear in Canada? Whether it is a fear of public speaking, tight spaces, insects, or snakes, having a specific phobia or fear can be very overwhelming to deal with.
But what if you have a phobia of fear itself? Commonly known as phobophobia, this disorder or fear can be even more challenging to deal with.
This type of phobia can cause someone to experience the same symptoms as other phobias and can be diagnosed and treated successfully.
Here is what you need to know about phobophobia and how you should handle it.
Unlike other phobias triggered by the presence or occurrence of a threat or fear, phobophobia is not that straightforward. This type of anxiety disorder causes someone to be afraid of fear (or fear of phobia).
It can be triggered by any other phobia.
This type of phobia is more specific to someone's sensations associated with anxiety in a phobia. Several people find this phobia scary because it adds an extra level of complexity to anything someone is afraid of.
Phobophobia can cause panic attacks and general anxiety disorders. This fear can also be so intense, and one can go to the extreme length of avoiding anything that they are afraid of.
People who have this phobia also have one or more existing phobias, which makes them afraid of developing another phobia.
Note that this is a genuine phobia, and it can affect someone's life, including decision making. If you or your loved one has this phobia, it is crucial that you seek the right help immediately to know how to manage it.
Afraid of fear (or fear of phobia)
Classification of Phobophobia
Phobias are classified into four main categories. They include:
• Natural environment types such as water, storms, or heights • Situation types such as enclosed spaces, airplanes, or driving • Animal types such as spiders, snakes, or dogs • Blood, injury, or injection type
There are other classes or types of phobias, such as the fear of costumed characters such as clowns, the fear of contracting an illness, and phobic avoidance of situations that can cause one to vomit or choke.
If you are dealing with phobophobia, the chances are that you fall in one or two of these categories. In some cases, you can develop a fear for any phobia in all of these categories.
Signs and Symptoms of Phobophobia
The first step to successfully dealing with this and any phobia and getting the right treatment is recognizing its signs and symptoms. Since phobophobia is a fear of any other type of phobia, its symptoms are similar to the symptom of other phobias.
Here are some of the symptoms that you should look out for:
• Trembling • Chest pains or tightness around the chest • Intrusive thoughts • Difficulty in breathing • Heart palpitations • Feeling powerless • Anxiety • confusion • Dry mouth • Nausea • Feeling dizzy or weak • Irritability • Extreme dread
It is important to know that this phobia is not the same as having generalized anxiety or panic attack disorders. In generalized anxiety disorder, a person tends to feel their physical symptoms and anxious thoughts slowly build up.
In some cases, this can result in a panic attack.
On the other hand, people with panic disorder experience severe panic attacks mainly triggered because the body becomes aware of incoming physical danger, even when there is none.
The symptoms of photophobia are different because you can consciously know that it is not normal to feel exceedingly afraid of your phobia or fear. However, though you recognize that you should not be afraid, you cannot stop yourself from reacting to the fear.
In some cases, you can experience the symptoms of phobophobia, including having generalized anxiety and panic attacks.
Symptoms of fear can present quite differently in a child. If you notice that your child is avoiding a specific situation, object, or animal, they might be showing signs and symptoms of phobia, including phobophobia.
A child may also fearfully anticipate an experience or encounter with their fear, and should they be faced with the fear, their everyday activities and routines can be immensely disrupted.
In case of extreme fear, they can manifest symptoms such as:
• Sweating • Increased heart rate • Numbness • Upset stomach • Shaking or trembling • Dizziness or fainting • Shortness of breath • Chest pain • Hot flashes or chills
If you notice any of these symptoms and any other change of behaviour in your child whenever you introduce something new to their routine, it may be ideal to talk to your doctor for an early diagnosis.
Causes of Phobophobia
This fear mainly occurs when you are afraid of fear itself. In addition, it also occurs when you are afraid of developing more phobias.
The minute you think about any phobia you have or a fear that you may have experienced or witnessed, you tend to feel anxious.
Phobophobia is caused by a continuous thought about a specific object or an event that may have sacred you. It can also be triggered by images related to your fears.
Once you experience a powerful panic response because of the phobia, your brain can begin to develop a negative impression associated with the experience of those feelings.
When this happens, your brain and body will begin to work together to avoid that panicked response. Chemical imbalances in your brain can also cause you to have irrational fears.
In some cases, this phobia can be caused by medical conditions, generalized anxiety, and the existence of other phobias.
One study shows that you can also inherit it from your parents. Note that, when it comes to this type of phobia, nothing from the external environment triggers it.
Your internal thoughts and process are what stimulate this phobia. However, each individual case is unique.
The triggers to this phobia are caused by initial sensitizing events where you were so afraid to have fear.
Treatment of Phobophobia
When left untreated, this phobia can cause a lot of harm to the patient and even those around them. The good news is that phobophobia responds well to various forms of treatment. Some of which include:
One of the first types of treatment considered for phobophobia or any other type of phobia is therapy. To help treat this phobia, a psychologist can consider exposure therapy which focuses on regular exposure to the fear.
While this may sound scary, it has been known to deal with managing different phobias successfully. You can also consider hypnotherapy, which focuses on the subconscious mind.
This kind of treatment aims to get to the root cause of the fear and help you believe that the fear is irrational.
Another therapy that you can consider is psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which includes using different techniques to help you identify and change your behaviours, thoughts, and emotions.
Experts also recommend Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help influence the way your brain behaves and responds to subjects or things you are scared of.
This is the next mode of treatment for this phobia. If the symptoms are causing serious distractions in your life, your doctor can recommend the right medicine, such as a sedative or beta-blocker, to help reduce the symptoms.
However, medication is only a short-term solution to this or any other type of phobia. It will not treat the phobia but rather help you manage the symptoms.
To supplement therapy and medication or any other treatment plan, you should consider a lifestyle change. To do this, you can:
Talk to someone you trust and have a support system • Join a support group • Try yoga and meditation • Spend time outside • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing techniques
Whether combined or not, this treatment option can provide relief to the signs and symptoms of this phobia and also manage the fear itself. If possible, you can consider getting a health insurance policy to cover your treatment.
This phobia is mainly linked with internal predispositions. The phobia is developed in the unconscious mind and is linked to an event where you experienced or witnessed stress and emotional trauma.
For example, if you lost a loved on a plane crash or watched several movies related to airplane accidents, you can develop or fear developing aerophobia. In a nutshell, photophobia can be triggered by the threat of fear, whether real or imagined.
To know if you have this disorder, you should watch out for a pattern in the symptoms. If you start experiencing the symptoms of this phobia, it may be ideal to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Ways to Manage Phobophobia
There are several ways methods you can utilize to manage this phobia. Once you are in treatment, you can develop a total lifestyle change to help manage your fears.
Solutions such as joining a support group, talking about your fears, and more can help you deal with this fear.
Since this phobia primarily exists in your mind, you can also try relaxation techniques, meditations, or any other exercises that can help clear your mind and help you remain peaceful.
What Research Says
Millions of people around the world are dealing with this phobia. While more studies are yet to be conducted on this disorder, it is a real threat to patients and should get help from professionals.
Risks Associated with Phobophobia
This phobia can be quite devastating to anyone that has it. It can cause problems such as:
Having a phobia can negatively affect your life in various ways. You may no longer enjoy taking part in activities that you once loved because of the fears associated with them.
Your day-to-day life may become challenging to manage, and this can trigger negative thoughts.
Some of the emotional effects that you may experience as a result of this phobia include: • Isolation • Severe anxiety • Embarrassment • Helplessness • Feeling out of control
If you ignore the symptoms of phobophobia or fail to get the right treatment, this phobia can affect your social and professional life. Remember, there is a cure, and you must seek the right cure as soon as possible.
So far, there is no defined official test to help determine if you qualify for a specific diagnosis. However the CTRN (Change That's Right Now) website has a self-screening tool that one can use to take the first steps in determining whether or not they are phobopobic.
Note that unless you exhibit severe symptoms affecting your life, you can live with this phobia without a formal diagnosis. But, getting diagnosed will help you come up with a treatment plan.
Your primary care physician can talk to you about your symptoms and triggers and refer you to a mental health specialist.
The psychologist will ask about your family history, how long you have experienced the symptoms and other questions about your mental health.
The answer to these and any other questions will form the basis of your diagnosis and also become the very foundation of your treatment plan.
Just like it is possible to get over any other phobia, it is also possible to stop having a phobia from fears. For your treatment plan to be successful, it would be best to get treated as soon as possible and by the right professional.
Psychologists use various treatment plans such as CBT and behaviour therapy to help patients get rid of their phobias. You can also combine therapy with medication, self-help techniques, and lifestyle change to completely get over your fears.
Learn How to Deal with Phobophobia and Improve Your Life
Having fear is a real condition and can also be scary. Phobophobia, like any other phobias, has similar symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
This means that it has a cure. Though you can manage the symptoms of this phobia, especially if they are not severe, you may want to get treatment and ensure that this fear does not interfere with your life.
If you are looking for the best policy to cover your treatment, get in touch with us at Insurdinary for customized insurance quotes from some of Canada's best health insurance providers.