Phobophobia is considered an irrational fear that a person has about developing a fear of phobias. This is a medical term used to describe how the fear of phobias could be associated with certain situations or with participation in activities. People who suffer from phobophobia may have existing battles with anxiety disorders. Some of the common physical signs of phobophobia that people may exhibit include dry mouth or bouts of nausea.
A person who is diagnosed with phobophobia is afraid that he or she may develop a phobia. Nothing in the external environment stimulates this fear. Internal thought processes foster the fear and link it to a person’s reality, although nothing actually justifies the purpose of the fear. Trying to cope by avoiding the phobia may actually trigger phobophobia.
This condition typically exacerbates anxiety disorders. Two things are occurring with a person who is diagnosed with phobophobia. One, existing anxiety disorders are intensified even as a person attempts to avoid a phobia. Second, the person is unable to overcome an anxiety attack because fearing the phobia leads to the emotional and physical display of the anxiety. By fearing intense anxiety about the phobia, it is as if the person is on a hamster wheel of anxiety.
The person may attempt to take extreme precautions to avoid scenarios that may trigger a panic attack, even when there are no obvious manifestations that a threat is imminent. Generally, this type of reaction does not occur without some type of underlying cause. Usually, this person has one or more anxiety disorders. Thus, treatment for phobophobia may follow similar protocol as the treatment for anxiety disorders.
One of the common types of phobias related to this condition is nosophobia, which is a fear of contracting an illness or disease. Another phobia that people with phobophobia may have is agoraphobia — a fear that being in a certain place will cause a panic attack. The phobic reaction may elicit some symptoms such as a preoccupation with the fear or the need to flee from a presumed danger.
On some level, most people may express normal fears. In some circumstances, it is not unusual to have some level of anxiety when facing a situation with an unknown outcome. The scale of how a person is affected by different types of fears is the distinction between a normal fear and a phobia. For some people, the inability to shake feelings of dread, panic or terror in a situation may lead to anxiety attacks.