The Fear of Phobias Is Phobophobia

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The fear of phobias is phobophobia. This condition can lead to a vicious cycle, ultimately resulting in escalating fears.

Some people with phobophobia already have one or more existing phobias, while others are afraid that they might develop one. Phobophobia is often, but not always, linked to other anxiety disorders.

Phobophobia With an Established Phobia

If you already have an established phobia, you may be at greater risk of developing phobophobia. This is because a common symptom of any phobia is anticipatory anxiety, which causes increasing fear in the time leading up to a planned confrontation with the object of fear.

Therefore, you may begin to dread not only your original trigger but also your own reaction to it. Over time, this dread can worsen and develop into phobophobia.

Phobophobia Without an Established Phobia

It is possible to develop phobophobia even if you never had an actual phobia. For example, you can worry that you will develop a phobia of something you love, or that you will develop a phobic reaction that limits your daily activities.

Phobophobia is condition rooted in underlying vulnerabilities to anxiety. If you are already limited by phobia, it's not difficult to imagine a fear of developing additional ones.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Phobophobia is interesting in that it is one of the only self-fulfilling fears. While the fear of cancer (carcinophobia) does not increase the odds of developing it, the fear of phobias can lead to a phobia.

How does that happen? The anxiety you experience in anticipation of developing a phobia might lead to a full-blown phobic reaction. You gradually limit your activities in an ever-increasing attempt to minimize your exposure to fearful reactions. Over time, this can lead to agoraphobia. If your fear centers around a specific object or situation, you might gradually develop a phobia of that object or situation.

Understanding Phobophobia

Like all phobias, phobophobia is an exaggerated fear response. While in other phobias, the irrationally heightened response focuses on a specific object or situation, in phobophobia, the fear is of the fear response itself.

If you have phobophobia, you are likely the opposite of an adrenaline junkie. Rather than experiencing a thrill when facing your fears, you may go out of your way to avoid any situation that causes heightened anxiety.

Avoidance motivated by this self-protective instinct can have devastating effects on your work or school life. It can also have an impact on your social life by leading you to avoid situations that you perceive as potentially anxiety-inducing.

Treatment

Phobophobia typically responds well to standard phobia treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapies. However, since phobophobia is often linked to other anxiety disorders, it is important to simultaneously treat all conditions.

Your therapist will carefully diagnose all applicable disorders and create a customized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Phobophobia can be difficult to manage, but with proper treatment there is no reason for it to limit your life.

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