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What is Acerophobia?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Acerophobia is the irrational fear of tasting sour things, and though this may sound like a lesser phobia, it can still greatly impact daily living. Not only can anxiety be present around the issue of tasting anything that might be sour, but when people do taste something sour, it makes them immediately physically ill or they may suffer long-term gastrointestinal effects from the experience. Any new encounter with a sour taste may worsen acerophobia, making it necessary for people to be extremely careful before they consume any foods.

Like all panic-based phobic disorders, the fear of doing something can have profound effects on mood and ability to be calm. Faced with any situation where a person might encounter a sour taste, an elevated level of panic could be felt. This could include symptoms of high perspiration, shakiness, palpitations, tremors, rapid breathing, or outright panic attacks.

While it might not seem that acerophobia would occur in its worst form that often, that’s actually misguided thinking. Human beings communally share food all the time at things like picnics, parties, and gatherings of all kinds, and they also routinely ask other people to prepare food for them. In any of these situations, the acerophobic may experience strong anxiety, and like many phobias, the condition has the effect of distancing the person from others and from normal modes of living.

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The causes of acerophobia aren’t fully clear. Some people can identify a childhood experience where they ate something sour and reacted badly to it. There is some suggestion that the condition may be passed down from parents to children, but it’s hard to say if this is hereditary or learned socially. Even without knowing cause, there are several treatments that may help people overcome this fear.

Either psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapies are thought useful in addressing this illness. Over time, feelings about the fear, analysis of how it manifests, and development of new ways to address it can be learned in therapy. Some people also receive psychiatric treatment, since there are several behavioral medicines that may help alleviate some symptoms. People may for a short time rely on anti-anxiety medicines to help address their most severe phobic symptoms, and there’s some evidence that people with phobias also respond to certain antidepressants. A combination of both therapy and antidepressants is often thought most effective in treating the illness.

Though acerophobia is not heard of much, it is a serious illness that has significant impact on those who have it. It shouldn’t be dismissed as just high taste sensitivity or a person’s nervous stomach. Instead, it is a real phobia that can fortunately respond to treatment.

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