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How do I Overcome a Fear of Pain?

By Lori Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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A phobia is an irrational, unrelenting feeling of terror that can prohibit daily activity. A fear of pain may seemingly develop out of nowhere, or it can arise because of a traumatic event or an upcoming surgical procedure. Regardless of the reason, it might be a good idea for you to discuss your concerns with a licensed psychologist who can help you overcome it through talk therapy. A therapist may also give you helpful breathing and relaxation techniques. Some people find relief after participating in hypnotherapy sessions, while others prefer anti-anxiety medications to ease nervousness and panic.

Most people have a fear of pain to some degree because, after all, pain hurts. It is a warning signal that protects the body from damage and it acts as a protective mechanism. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you touch a hot stove, pain signals tell your brain to remove your hand from the negative stimuli to avoid causing physical harm to yourself.

The brain is a powerful tool. It sometimes adjusts or overcompensates the way it perceives a potential threat. This is typically how phobias develop. Many times, they can be attributed to a traumatic event from the past. Consciously, you may not even realize it. Subconsciously, however, the mind remembers bad experiences. It conditions itself to avoid things that cause pain in the future — like touching hot stoves.

Identifying the source of your fear of pain can be the first step in overcoming it. Psychotherapy is usually helpful in achieving a better understanding of why the fear exists. Once the source is established, a therapist may be able to suggest ways to combat feelings of anxiety and terror when the perceived threat of pain overwhelms you.

Some people find relief from their fear of pain after attending hypnotherapy sessions. This form of deep relaxation, induced by a hypnotherapist, can make people susceptible to the positive suggestions made to the patient during sessions. People who desire assistance with making these behavioral modification changes in their lives, such as quitting bad habits or overcoming phobias, may find it helpful.

During hypnotherapy sessions, the therapist creates a relaxed, sleep-like state for the individual, even though the patient remains alert. The altered state of awareness allows the therapist to speak directly to the subconscious mind, and in some cases, alter its perception of a deep-rooted, irrational fear. Sometimes, individuals with phobias can be completely cured. Hypnotherapy does not work for everybody, however.

Anti-anxiety medication may also be effective in certain cases. Some people become so overwhelmed by a fear of pain that they are unable to participate in activities they once enjoyed. Others are scared to leave their homes. Sometimes, intermittent use of medication can help ease the intensity of fear and terror when it interferes with daily living. If this sounds like a good option for you, your doctor may be able to prescribe appropriate medication that would work best for your particular situation.

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