Whereas hypochondriasis is the fear that the physical symptoms currently present are manifestations of an undiagnosed disease, nosophobia (or nosemaphobia) is an overwhelming and all-pervading fear of disease – either having or developing a particular disease such as diabetes or cancer.
If an individual continues to live with this phobia, in all likelihood it will eventually affect the mental and physical health of the person. In such a case, there is a need for professional therapy to treat the condition.
The fear of a disease is seen to be common among students of medicine who believe that they have the symptoms of diseases they are studying about. Frequent exposure to sicknesses is seen to be a cause of nosophobia. Traumatic experiences in one’s life that are related to specific sicknesses are also seen to contribute to the formation of nosophobia.
Nosophobia – Fear of Disease: Symptoms And Treatment Options
This tendency is also likely to have been passed over by a member of the family who was more than obsessed about his/her health and the phobia is felt more among those individuals who are anxious about long-term health-related issues. Nosophobia may also be a result of other pre-existing phobias that are already present in the individual.
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Nosophobia – Symptoms
Symptoms of nosophobia can be emotional, mental and physical. Physical symptoms of nosophobia include panic attacks, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, and nausea, among others. A nosophobia victim will avoid going to the doctor for the fear of being diagnosed with a disease.
A sufferer of the phobia feels uncontrollable anxiety when he/she thinks about a sickness or is exposed to any illness of any kind. The patients have the feeling that they have to do everything possible to avoid illness and situation related to illness (like visiting a sick friend, relative, etc.). They are so overwhelmed with the thought of avoiding disease that they cannot function normally most of the time. The patients may even know that their fears are unreasonable but often feel powerless to control them. Feeling of losing control, feelings of detachment from oneself, conjuring images of sicknesses in the mind most of the time are common symptoms that the patients of the phobia have. Most patients of nosophobia exhibit elevated levels of anger, sadness, guilt, hurt or any other related emotion.
Nosophobia – Treatment Options
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is found to help patients of nosophobia overcome their irrational fears through graded exposure to a situation involving sickness. A person with the phobia is exposed through the mind in the initial sessions and thereafter physically in the subsequent sessions. This helps the patient to rationalize and alter his thinking pattern to give a more positive response.
The physical symptoms of nosophobia can be managed with suitable medications. Traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines anti-depressants such as beta blockers are generally prescribed. However, these drugs do not treat the underlying cause of the disorder. Some of them are also likely to have side effects that have to be managed.
Practice of relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing help the patient gain more control over the physical and emotional symptoms of nosophobia.
Getting information about the phobia goes a long way in helping the patient gain an understanding of the phobia. An effort to keep negative thoughts away from the mind is also seen to help.
Fear of Disease Cure & Treatment
Nosophobia, the fear of having or contracting a disease, can have a terrible effect on lives – living with such a phobia can have a serious affect on both ones mental state of mind and physical health. If you suffer from a fear of disease you must seek out help … and there is a cure:
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