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What is Algophobia? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By February 26, 2022 March 3rd, 2022 No Comments

What is Algophobia

Algophobia is a term derived from the Greek words; Algos means pain, and Phobos implies fear. Thus, Algophobia is the fear of pain – irrational and abnormal fear of pain.

It is a persistent condition that can cause extreme discomfort and make day-to-day tasks a challenge. This disproportionate fear of pain can cause irrational reasoning that triggers disruptive and intense psychological distress anywhere and everywhere.

Let’s learn more about Algophobia’s causes, symptoms, and treatment options for better awareness.

We all respond differently to pain. With the condition being widespread, one study has shown that as much as half of the people with low back pain develop this elevated sense of fear, constituting about 20-50% of people worldwide. Moreover, 67% of these people with chronic pain conditions are predisposed to a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.

But what causes this pain?

Causes

individuals who have gone through high, intense, and traumatic pain during their childhood often experience Algophobia. This condition is also common in the elderly when they realize that their close ones are suffering in pain and dying from diseases.

While that’s true that we all respond differently to pain, Algophobia is a rising condition of anxiety in people with chronic pain syndromes like arthritis (joint pain), back pain, and headaches, including migraines, or even sometimes in cancer patients who experience chronic pain. These and many more are long-standing pain conditions that persist beyond the usual recovery time, making the individuals prone to developing an irrational, abnormal, and ongoing fear of pain.

The feelings of sudden fear and anxiety naturally act as a body’s defense mechanism. Upon seeing or sensing danger ahead, or even surprisingly, just a thought of it can induce our body to release certain hormones like adrenaline and the brain to release certain chemicals, producing a fight or flight response to help cope with stressful situations. While those are natural responses, excessive chemical and hormonal imbalances within a person expose them to the risk of developing Algophobia.

While some cases of Algophobia are recorded in young adults, it is much more common in the elderly. Many people endorse the myth that older people have little to worry about. So, they are less prone to developing any mental disorders or are least likely to carry fear with them, however, the opposite is true. Cross-sectional study research has shown that the prevalence of fear of falling among older people was 59.9%.

Symptoms

Individuals who fear leaving home alone, using public transport, and waiting in crowds experience Algophobia symptoms such as loss of control, upset stomach, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, feeling choked, or fear of dying.

Many of the symptoms of Algophobia are related to panic disorder and anxiety. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling Loss Of Control
  • Stomach Discomfort Or Even Diarrhea
  • Trouble Breathing (Dyspnea),
  • Rapid Heartbeat (Tachycardia)
  • Chest Pain, Or Pressure
  • Feeling Choked
  • Fearing Death

All of this fear arises from feeling pain and not really experiencing it. Algophobes perceive pain as a threat, so people with such conditions exhibit hypervigilance; that is, they become intensely focused and on-guard, constantly assessing potential threats around them. Furthermore, individuals start to catastrophize situations, where they picture the worst possible outcome like getting a mail and picturing it as something dangerous or life-threatening. This can go on to such extremes that a fall and a break of your leg can ward you off from working to earn a living.

Symptoms such as excessive sweating, hot flushes or chills, and lightheadedness may also start to kick in at the same time as other symptoms.

Treatment

Psychotherapy is a treatment for psychological mental disorders, which helps you deal with the symptoms of Algophobia.

Another treatment is behavioral therapy which aims to help change your behavior associated with Algophobia.

It isn’t simple treating Algophobia, just like it isn’t, diagnosing one. Your health professional first needs to differentiate your fear of pain from the actual pain that you get to feel. A lengthy assessment and evaluation first need to get done on the type of pain you’re feeling, for how long you’re feeling, how much you’re feeling it, and all the related emotions you’re experiencing alongside.

If this pain is affecting your quality of life and instilling within you fear-avoidance—avoiding activities that may trigger your fear—psychotherapy can help you change the way you think about pain and help you deal with the symptoms of Algophobia.

Behavioral therapy aims to help change one’s behavior. It assists the individual to understand where their thoughts and feelings are coming from and how they influence their behaviors. Such approaches help change obstructive thoughts and maladaptive behaviors for good.

The Takeaway

While living with such a disruptive condition may be breathtakingly difficult and stressful, watching your daily functioning become affected just by your origin of thoughts can be overwhelming. And while many people may adapt to it, the condition might take a toll on many.

The good news is this condition is manageable! With a suitable combination of therapy, exercise and medications, you are good to go to face the world.

Contact our experts at Houston Counseling today to get rid of your Algophobia. We’re here to help!

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