Fear of Becoming Ill

It could be fear of germs. It could be fear of hospitals – or it might be Nosphobia, the fear of becoming ill. A growing number of people are experiencing this fear for some very compelling reasons.

When an individual experiences this fear it is generally a fear that has grown from another fear altogether. This list of fears might also include the fear of death or even the fear of job loss is they are away from work too long.

What Causes Nosophobia?

As we age we become more aware of our mortality. We tend to at least think of adopting a more physically active lifestyle, we eat better foods, take supplements and wish every bug that threatens our health away. Many will avoid seeing a doctor simply because if they can go without hearing a diagnosis that something is wrong then they can live as if they are healthy. The trouble is sometimes we are not okay.

This tendency may have been passed along from a family member who obsessed about their health in the past or the phobia may become more acutely felt as a result of our own anxiety about long-term health issues. As mentioned earlier this is one of those fears that can also be the natural outgrowth of other preexisting fears.

The culmination of fears can be confusing to both the individual and therapist who may be trying to learn what ultimately caused the fear to turn into a full-blown phobia.

Symptoms of Nosophobia

Nosophobia may be demonstrated by an obstinate denial of any health issues. The individual will not be transparent about physical issues that may be symptomatic of an illness – treatable or not.

Other symptoms include…

  • Visible discomfort
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Panic
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Sweating
  • A pronounced desire to flee
  • Weeping or screaming

As with most fears Nosophobia is one that may not be rational, yet it remains a fear that can gain a very strong foothold in an individual’s life and can result in a lack of diagnosis that could either allow the avoidance of a future illness or even save a life.

How to Overcome Nosophobia

Many therapists will work to take the individual experiencing this fear back to an original incident that may have ignited the phobia. This can be described as a process similar to peeling an onion. One layer at a time comes off as you work backwards toward the source of your fear. Emotions can tend to be tender as each layer comes off, but in the end a sense of emotional healing can take place that allows a greater probability of recovery.

A conversation with a physician may also be helpful in understanding that so many illnesses are treatable and that businesses supply their workers with sick leave to allow them a chance to recover from any illness that should come up.

Family member can also intervene to help their loved one learn to live a life in which they may be more comfortable admitting when they don’t feel good. This can allow medical attention when needed and often allows the individual to see firsthand that admitting an illness doesn’t have to be as painful as they imagined it to be.

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