Phobias Types Chronophobia Is Characterized by a Fear of Time By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 24, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Altrendo Images / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Prevalence Symptoms Treatments Prevention Chronophobia is characterized by the fear of the passage of time, usually, because people fear that their time on Earth is limited or have trouble tracking its passing. Even though time isn't fully concrete, some may consider it as a type of "specific phobia," similar to how one would fear a cat or snake. Prevalence of Chronophobia Some populations experience chronophobia, the fear of time, more than others. In fact, since it is so common in prison populations it is sometimes known as "prison neurosis." The elderly, as well as people facing terminal illnesses who worry that their time on Earth may be limited, may also face this fear. Time becomes their enemy, and they fear it because its passing will ultimately lead to their death. The fear of time also sometimes presents in the wake of severe trauma, such as a natural disaster, particularly if the daily routine is seriously disrupted. It is also relatively common among shipwreck survivors and others who are trapped in a high-anxiety situation with no familiar means of tracking the passage of time. In fact, a sense of a foreshortened future has previously been used as one of the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms Chronophobia is marked by a sense of derealization in which time seems to speed up or slow down. Some people develop circular thought patterns, racing thoughts, and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prisoners often mark down the days until their release. Many victims will also experience panic, anxiety, and claustrophobia, which are common symptoms of most phobias as well as common reactions to trauma. Panic attacks, sweating, shortness of breath, and even persistently haunting thoughts are also often reported, but only in extreme cases. Treatments In extreme cases, untreated chronophobia can lead to isolation, depression, and even increasingly disordered thinking. It is important to seek advice from a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. Chronophobia responds well to such standard phobia treatments as cognitive-behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy. As it is closely linked with other disorders, however, it is best to diagnose and treat all concurrent conditions simultaneously. In some cases, psychiatrists may prescribe medications, but psychotherapy remains the primary treatment for phobias. Prevention of Chronophobia Since the fear of time is often caused by situations that cannot be fully controlled, like illness, it is difficult to prevent. More general anxiety and stress management techniques also exist. 5 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. Leer-Salvesen P. Fear of the Future and Theology of Hope. In: Bergmann S, editor. Eschatology as Imagining the End: Faith between Hope and Despair. Routledge. 2018:30-44. Naik KR, Mall A, Palace BH. The Problems of Prisoners: An Analysis. IJRAR. 2019;6(2):267-287. Ratcliffe M, Ruddell M, Smith B. What is a "sense of foreshortened future?" A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1026. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01026 Klochko Y. A person in a closed environment as a psychological problem. Psychology in Russia. 2013;6(4):143. doi:10.11621/pir.2013.0412 American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. 2013. By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Phobias Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.