What is nosmophobia and how do I fight it?

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On every occasion the first thing we wish each other is… health. No wonder, after all none of us dreams about losing it or even compromising it. However, there are people for whom the vision of illness is a real nightmare, oppressive to the extent that it becomes an illness itself.

Understanding and overcoming nosophobia

Waking up in an uncertain reality, faced with the new threat that covid-19 has become, we all may have confronted the automatic reactions hidden within us to a dangerous, unknown epidemic

To a greater or lesser degree, hidden or overt, anxiety was probably not alien to any of us. While in its moderate intensity it is an undeniably necessary emotion, in its extreme form it takes the form of obsession, phobia – in the case of fear of disease it is clinically known as nosmophobia.

A self-fulfilling prophecy

Nosesophobia is a rare anxiety disorder that involves a persistent, persistent fear of getting sick. Although it usually begins in early adulthood, when faced with uncharacteristic events, people who are more prone to stress can develop it regardless of age or gender

Patients most often fear the most well-known, dangerous and deadly diseases such as cancer, HIV and heart disease. People suffering from nonsyndophobia are so afraid of diseases that intrusive fear-related thoughts prevent them from enjoying life and performing their daily duties – not even a doctor’s opinion, based on specialized examinations, can help them. Paradoxically, living in constant fear of losing their health, they are driven into the merciless prison of mental disorder.

The problem with “Uncle Google’s advice”

Anxiety is unfortunately an increasingly common disorder in the age of the digital revolution and is also referred to as cyberchondria by some clinicians. Anyone who has ever tried to search for the cause of their symptoms online on their own is probably already well aware of what lies behind the term.

This kind of research on your own usually comes down to finding really serious diseases, many of which are extremely rare in the population. For many people, especially those who are particularly sensitive to fear, such information is the perfect breeding ground for the development of nosophobia.

Other risk factors for nosophobia

  • Fear for one’s own health;
  • death of a loved one from a terminal illness;
  • co-occurrence of other mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example.

Treating phobias

The most popular and effective option is cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to change the patient’s misconceptions. Working with a psychotherapist, the patient learns about normal bodily sensations and their typical variations. In this way he gets to know his body better and stops reacting with fear to its completely harmless “messages”.

Depending on the intensity of the disorder, the doctor may also prescribe medication, such as antidepressants, which also reduce anxiety. In addition to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy, alternative methods such as mindfulness practice (meditation), positive affirmations or visualization are also worthwhile.

Main photo: Karan Mandre/unsplash.com

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