Fear of disease or Nosophobia is an overwhelming and all-consuming fear of catching, having or developing illness or disease. This phobia relates to any illness or disease – contagious or otherwise.
No one wants to become ill and so it’s completely natural that we all get a little concerned about catching contagious diseases and take precautions (the Covid-19 pandemic proves this!). However, Nosophobia is more, much more than this normal, expected fear. To a sufferer of Nosophobia the anxiety of catching or developing any disease (contagious or otherwise), is intense, persistent, all-consuming and completely irrational. The fear doesn’t go away – even following medical examination resulting in the confirmation of a clean bill of health it’s still there!
As with most specific fears, if an individual continues to live with Nosophobia, in all likelihood it will eventually affect the mental and physical health of the person not to mention the quality of life.
Nosophobia – Fear of Disease: Symptoms And Treatment Options
It’s important we don’t confuse this phobia with hypochondriasis which is the fear that the physical symptoms currently present are manifestations of an undiagnosed disease. It also goes by the names of nosemaphobia and pathophobia. In recent years it also become recognised as cyberchondria too. This is because of increasing role that Doctor Google plays in the diagnosis of illness!
The fear of disease is seen to be particularly common among students of medicine who believe that they have the symptoms of diseases they are studying about. It’s actually also known as Medical Students Disease!
Frequent exposure to sickness is also a common cause of nosophobia, as are traumatic experiences in one’s life that are related to specific sicknesses. 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. This is not a definitive list, there can be other symptoms too. 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. This could be something like visiting a sick friend or relative. They are so overwhelmed with the thought of avoiding disease that they cannot function normally most of the time.
The patient may even know that the fear is completely unreasonable but often feels 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. It works 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 their 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.
Hypnotherapy is another very effective treatment. When you think about it none of us were born with a fear of disease – we’ve developed it at some stage along our lifeline. In very simple terms hypnotherapy works by resetting the brain to the way it was before it got corrupted. The result is that the irrational fear of disease is eliminated with a more normal, rational automatic response. If you’re interested you may want to read our feature on Hypnosis To Treat Fears And Phobias.
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.
Overcome Fear of Disease
Nosophobia, the fear of having, developing or contracting a disease, can have a terrible effect on life. 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 should seek out help. Rest assured though, there is always a cure!
One particular Nosophobia treatment option is a really good self-hypnosis program. It’s aptly called Overcome Fear Of Disease. This is a specialist audio download which has been developed by experts and is proven to work … really well in fact. At less than $15 it proves incredbly cost effective too – especially when compared with costly face to face therapy. Not only that, it comes with a 90 day money back guarantee meaning there’s nothing to lose. Don’t take our word for it though, check it out for yourself:
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