In psychology terms, a phobia is a strong, exaggerated or irrational fear of something that actually causes little if any harm by itself. A phobia is classified as a type of anxiety disorder and the list of specific phobias is quite extensive. Chrono is the Greek word for time, thus chronophobia means fear of time.
As with any other phobia, chronophobia is a psychological condition and may be caused by a change in the brain’s perception of time. Since many phobias result in actual physical symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and intense panic, most people with a phobia tend to avoid the cause of their fear. Chronophobia is difficult to understand and is exacerbated by the fact that people who are excessively fearful of time have no way to avoid its passing.
Some phobias may develop or manifest in response to a situation or external stimuli. The root cause may be difficult for the person to identify or recollect, as psychological responses are often a protective instinct of the human psyche. An example of situations where chronophobia may develop is when a significant and life-altering event will occur in the near future or in prisoners who’s perception of time has been altered.
Symptoms that may manifest with chronophobia are similar to other fears and anxieties and include shortness of breath, rapid pulse, intense fear or panic, trembling, feelings of dread and taking extreme measures to avoid the source of anxiety. Intense fears are often the result of an underlying psychological condition that existed previously or developed in response to a specific event. Post traumatic stress syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorder are examples of anxiety disorders that may trigger specific fears.
As a specific fear associated with anxiety disorder, chronophobia is treated in much the same way as any excessive fear or anxiety. Treatment for such disorders may involve medication, therapy or a combination of both. People suffering from symptoms of anxiety or fear can talk to their doctor and ask for referrals to a trained psychologist or psychiatrist. They will evaluate symptoms, medical history, and mental state in order to diagnose any psychological condition that may be causing fears or anxiety.
Though there are medications that can help reduce anxiety, people who suffer from anxiety disorders and phobias often need to undergo therapy for extended periods of time. While there was once a negative stigma associated with mental health care, modern research and therapy methods have eliminated many of the stereotypes once associated with general anxiety, phobias and panic disorders. Modern medicine often embraces mental health care on levels parallel with physical health care and treatment for many psychological conditions is readily available.