What Is Chrometophobia?

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What Is Chrometophobia?

Most people worry about money. However, some people have an irrational fear of spending money, known as chrometophobia, says Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of “Understanding Bipolar Disorder.” 

The term chrometophobia originates from the Greek words chrimata, meaning money, and phobos, meaning fear. This phobia is also sometimes referred to as chrematophobia.

This article explores the symptoms, causes, impact, diagnosis, and treatment of chrometophobia, as well as some coping strategies that may be helpful.

Symptoms of Chrometophobia

These are some of the symptoms of chrometophobia, according to Dr. Daramus:

  • Extreme fear of spending money, to the extent that it can get in the way of daily life
  • Anxiety or panic at the prospect of spending money
  • Tendency to avoid spending money as much as possible

Chrometophobia can manifest in different ways, depending on the individual. While one person might repeatedly count their money for reassurance, another might be afraid to touch it, manage it, talk about it, or even think about it.

In some people, this fear may also extend to other valuables, such as jewelry, gold, diamonds, and other expensive items.

However, Dr. Daramus says it’s important to note that like other phobias, chrometophobia is an irrational fear. Therefore, someone who genuinely has financial problems may not have chrometophobia, because their reluctance to spend money may be realistic. 

Impact of Chrometophobia

These are some ways that chrometophobia can impact the person’s life, according to Dr. Daramus:

  • The person may deny themselves necessities they can afford
  • They might avoid going out, taking a vacation, or pursuing activities they enjoy, even if it fits in their budget
  • They may develop health problems if they refuse to spend on healthcare, or choose to buy junk food because it’s cheaper than healthy food
  • They may not have a social life or romantic relationship because all of that costs money
  • They may develop legal problems due to failure to pay bills
  • Their living situation may deteriorate because they don’t want to spend on home maintenance and repairs

Aimee Daramus, PsyD

Life can get pretty bleak when you deny yourself basic necessities and affordable treats.

— Aimee Daramus, PsyD

Causes of Chrometophobia

People who have faced severe financial difficulties in the past may develop chrometophobia, because they may have been traumatized by the situation and fear it may occur again, explains Dr. Daramus.

Genetic factors can also play a role in the development of phobias; people may be predisposed to developing phobias if others in their family have them.

“With some phobias though, there may not even be a specific cause,” says Dr. Daramus. However, she adds that though we may never know the why, the phobia can still be treated.

Diagnosing Chrometophobia

A qualified mental healthcare professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist can diagnose chrometophobia by conducting an interview with the patient, says Dr. Daramus. 

The healthcare provider will determine whether the patient’s symptoms and behaviors meet the diagnostic criteria listed for phobias in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a guideline published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The diagnostic criteria for phobias listed in the DSM-5 include:

  • The person experiences excessive or unreasonable fear at the prospect of the object or situation 
  • The person is unable to cope with the feared situation and almost always experiences anxiety or has a panic attack when they encounter the situation
  • The person recognizes that their reaction is excessive but is unable to do anything about it
  • The person avoids the situation as far as possible, or endures it with significant distress and anxiety
  • The person’s fear, anxiety, distress, and avoidance interfere significantly with their ability to go about their daily life, affecting their work, studies, relationships, and overall functioning
  • The person’s fear is persistent and has lasted for over six months
  • The person’s symptoms and behavior are not caused by another mental health condition

Treating Chrometophobia

Chrometophobia can be treated with psychotherapy. These are some forms of therapy that can be helpful.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Most phobia treatments are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, says Dr. Daramus. She explains that this form of therapy can help people recognize irrational thoughts and problematic behaviors caused by the phobia, and it can help them develop healthy thought and behavior patterns to counter the phobia.
  • Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavior therapy that has been specifically developed to help people confront their fears in a safe environment. This form of therapy involves gradually exposing people to the feared situation and helping them develop the coping skills they need to handle it.
  • Anxiety management skills: Meditation and mindfulness are anxiety management skills that can help people manage the anxiety caused by their phobia, says Dr. Daramus.

Coping With Chrometophobia

Dr. Daramus suggests some steps that can help you cope with chrometophobia:

  • If you have chrometophobia, there may have been a good reason why you watch your money so carefully. However, it might be time to let that go. So, try to show yourself some compassion as you deal with this fear.
  • Remember that sometimes refusing to spend money can cost you more money in the long-run. It’s important to take care of your home, your health, your everyday needs, and your social and emotional well-being.
  • Use a budgeting app to help you manage your money so you don’t have to worry about overspending.
  • Set up a direct debit for all your important payments, if paying bills gives you anxiety.
  • Ask a close friend or family member to help you rationalize your spending habits.

A Word From Verywell

Chrometophobia is an irrational fear that can make it difficult for you to spend money or pay your bills, even though you may be able to afford it. It’s important to seek treatment for this condition as it can affect your health, relationships, overall well-being, and daily life.

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7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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