Fear of Choking or Being Smothered

No one likes to consider the prospect of choking. The restriction of airways is a cause for alarm, but sometimes fear of the potential of chocking, being choked or even being smothered can cause alterations in the behavior of those suffering from Pnigophobia or sometimes known as Pnigerophobia.

If an individual has ever encountered a time when they were deprived of oxygen they will likely remember that sensation for the rest of their lives. Sometimes that encounter instills a fear that a repeat occurrence could take their life.

What Causes Pnigophobia?

Sometimes the related fear of claustrophobia (fear of small spaces) can render an individual afraid of being constricted. This fear can morph into a fear of being choked, strangled or smothered.

If an individual is held down or choked by someone in their early years (think playground bullying) it can also become the source of a fear of choking.

Sometimes even a recurring dream about being choked can elicit a profound fear of being smothered.

Another common source for this phobia is observing someone who suffers from the fear. The whether by empathy or an active imagination you begin to adopt a similar fear by trying to put yourself in their shoes. The fear can grab your attention then and allow a phobia to grow.

Symptoms of Pnigophobia

The greatest visual evidence of this fear is when an individual experiences air hunger in a confined space. In their minds they can be reliving an experience of oxygen deprivation and the end result can cause personal discomfort and emotional paralysis.

Other symptoms include…

  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of control
  • An urge to flee
  • Lashing out at whatever you believe is causing the problem
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Panic attack

An evidence of this fear is the moment when an individual feels held against their will even in situations where this is not literally true.

How to Overcome Pnigophobia

This fear will require intervention from a therapist due to the extreme panic that can be part of the phobic experience. Learning to control the panic sensation that originates in the brain will be key to controlling your fear.

Fear never really goes away, but you can learn the skills to control your response to the fear. You can make it possible to be in control even when fear points to a situation that cannot be controlled.

The development of a plan of action along with cooperation in therapy can allow the phobic personality to tap into a new way of thinking – and a new way of life.

Facing any phobia with a renewed appreciation for logical outcomes can be an important step in conquering fear as well. A therapist can provide the tools needed to engage the fear, discover the root and define the connection between the two.

A support group or even a close supportive friend can be helpful in reconfirming the hope that fear can be tamed and helping to point to the new tools you may have to face those fears.

The fear of choking is also referred to as:

  • Choking fear
  • Fear of being choked
  • Fear of being smothered
  • Pnigophobia
  • Pnigerophobia
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