A fear of fear is, in fact, very common. People who suffer from anxiety or panic disorders, or even common, everyday stress and anxiety, often realize that their fear of fear is worse than the actual fear itself. Many people will go to great lengths to avoid feeling afraid, but then once they realize that fear cannot hurt them, they are able to overcome the fear, or even stop a panic attack from occurring. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Because a fear of fear is so common, however, it can be difficult to overcome. People who suffer from panic attacks especially often find that there is no discernible reason for their panic, but the feelings of fear are so intense that they cause symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, and a feeling that one could actually die from the panic. Sometimes people who suffer from panic attacks will go to the hospital, in fear that they are having a heart attack. People with panic attacks may or may not develop an actual panic disorder, which will usually depend on traumatic instances or constant sources of stress in one's life.
A fear of fear may present itself when people find themselves in a place or situation that led to a panic attack in the past. In an effort to avoid another attack, people will become especially sensitive to changes in their bodies. If they feel the slightest twinge of anxiety or fear, this can cause them to panic and bring about a full blown anxiety attack. This fear of fear can then become so common and pervasive that people will avoid going to certain places, or participating in activities because of the fear that a panic attack will happen again.
Sometimes, people can overcome a fear of fear on their on by practicing some relaxation techniques, or using positive affirmations to remind themselves that fear and anxiety cannot cause them any actual harm, and that it will soon pass. Other people find that they need to visit a psychologist for therapy, which can help them to learn techniques for managing fear, as well as letting go of traumatic past experiences. For more severe panic disorders, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to prevent the symptoms of anxiety from occurring in the first place, thereby preventing panic attacks.