What Is Phobophobia: The Fear Of Being Afraid?

Phobophobia: the fear of being afraid?

Unrecognized, phobophobia places sufferer from it in a vicious circle. The fear of being afraid pushes him to retreat to avoid any stressful situation. To get out of it, you have torecognize the symptoms but also be aware of the existing solutions.

It is among the rankings of the most absurd phobias that flourish on the Internet. We’re not talking about athazagoraphobia here, the fear of being forgotten by friends or the more common tokophobia, the fear of being pregnant and giving birth. No, we are talking about phobophobia, the fear of being afraid.

What is the fear of being afraid?

Before understanding phobophobia, it is still necessary to know what a phobia is. Fear is a completely natural, although not a very pleasant emotion, which aims to protect us in times of danger. The brain releases the stress hormones to allow our body to react in the best possible way depending on the type of danger with three options: immobilize, flee or fight.

Phobia, which is intensified fear, is caused by a bug in transmitting information about danger to the brain, which causes the body to react badly.

What is then the definition of phobophobia? It’s about the fear of being afraid. More precisely, it is the anticipation of being afraid, or rather the anticipation of the reactions (panic attacks, tetany, etc.) we have when we are afraid, when there is no external stimulus, no danger. There are two types of phobophobia. The first one is not related to a defined phobia,it is rather a general state of anxiety. The second is therefore linked to a specific phobia.

The source of the phobophobia can also be a trauma or the parental model (such as the perpetual warning against an animal for example).

What are the symptoms of phobophobia?

The diagnosis should be made by a healthcare professional, for example the attending physician, who will rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Among the criteria to be considered as phobophobic, it is necessary that the phobia persists beyond six months, that the fear is exaggerated with respect to the situation or the danger incurred, that the person has adopted strategies of avoidance of the object or situation at the origin of his initial phobia (when it exists), and that fear and avoidance cause such distress that it harms social and professional life.

During each period of panic, the person with phobophobia can range from simple stress to panic attack. He may even see an amplification of the symptoms linked to the phobia over time. For example, it is not uncommon for agoraphobes, those who are afraid of crowds, to become phobophobic. The mere thought of having to go to a public place can create panic attacks, which intensify over time even when the danger is not there. In addition, there is a whole list of symptoms: sweating, tremors, racing heartbeat, feeling short of breath, numbness, chest pain, nausea, or a feeling of choking. It is also possible to be afraid of dying, of losing control or even of going crazy, which can lead to self-detachment.

The dangerousness of phobophobia comes from the fact that it creates a vicious circle, and takes one always further into the abyss. Indeed, panic attacks will lead to a loss of control, which itself leads to self-detachment, which is itself symptomatic of emotional exhaustion that can lead to burnout.

How to overcome phobophobia?

There is no treatment for photophobia, but several options available to patients. In any case, you have to be aware that you are going to talk more about taming your fear, of living with it, rather than treating or healing it.

The idea is to gradually confront the sufferer with their initial fear or the symptoms that trigger the phobophobia.

So for some the solution will be psychotherapy while others will be more sensitive to cognitive and behavioural therapies. Hypnosis, EMDR (technique of desensitization and reprocessing by eye movements), or the technique of emotional management, which combines psychotherapy and acupressure, have been proven to fight phobophobia.

While you are in this fear of being afraid, taking antidepressants can be considered to temporarily limit fear and panic, always under the supervision of a doctor.

Whatever solution is adopted, it is recommended to adopt a new lifestyle, including in your daily routine breathing and relaxation exercises in particular.
Everyone is free to then find the method that suits them in addition, from yoga to sophrology, from mindfulness meditation to Qigong (a mind-body-spirit practice that improves one’s mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent).

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