What is Dementophobia?

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In this blog we will discuss what Dementophobia is.

We will also explore the symptoms of this phobia, the causes of its development, and how to cope or manage this phobia. 

What is Dementophobia?

Dementophobia refers to a specific type of fear of going insane or spiralling into madness or insanity. The word is derived from the Greek word Demos meaning ‘insanity’.

People who have this phobia are afraid of the possibility that they are going insane or they are losing touch of reality. They hold this fear that usually stems from the anxiety that they will be susceptible to mental illness and hence go insane. 

The individual who has this phobia reacts with extreme fear when they encounter the thought of going insane, or prompts, content, other individuals that are related to mental disorders and illnesses. 

Their fear would often lead them to become obsessive and hypervigilant when it comes to mental distress, and often react excessively when they notice anything different about themselves or the way they perceive their reality. 

They would struggle with this fear of coming across or being susceptible or vulnerable to mental disorders and this fear would often lead them to become anxious of the thought that they too will develop disorders. 

It is likely that individuals with dementophobia would often obsess over issues related to their mental health, suspect themselves of having hallucinations or getting out of touch from reality. 

They might engage in precautionary behaviours such as become overtly religious, spiritual, and try out other fads to make sure that they do not become mentally vulnerable to mental distress. 

They might also seek out medical assistance with extreme fear and anxiety about their condition; however, they might also avoid medical professionals for the fear that they will be diagnosed with a mental illness.

While it is possible that this particular phobia can be a result of negative experiences and trauma related to mental disorders, where the individual was under the care of an adult who had mental illness and this disrupted healthy patterns of parenting. 

However, it is also possible that this fear might arise without any negative experiences as listed above and this fear might have developed due to other causes, one being too much media consumption related to crimes. 

What are the symptoms of Dementophobia?

When it comes to Dementophobia, the most prominent symptoms that are usually observable by the individual as well as others around them includes anxiety related behaviours. 

These behaviours can include:

  • Obsessive patterns of thoughts and behaviours related to suspected symptoms of mental illness.
  • Fears and anxieties that they are hallucinating or experiencing delusions
  • Avoid support and medical assistance for fear of being diagnosed
  • Show disdain towards people with mental illnesses

When Individual feel threatened or triggered they might experience the following physical symptoms:

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flashes or chills
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • a choking sensation
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • pain or tightness in the chest
  • nausea
  • headaches and dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • ringing in your ears
  • confusion or disorientation
  • hyperventilation

In severe cases, it is also possible that such individuals might also be triggered into full blown panic attacks when they are under severe stress related to their fears of having a mental disorder, to the point that they might need medical assistance in some cases. 

It is also important to mention that when it comes to phobias, it does not only include physical symptoms but also symptoms related to their psychology. 

These individuals affected by this phobia might engage in avoidance behaviours which involve them doing whatever they can, knowling and sometimes unknown, to ensure that they do not come in contact with what they fear. 

In this case, they might fear seeking help or medical assistance due to their fears of being diagnosed. 

They might also engage in behaviours to ensure they are not going mad, lose sleep over it, and engage in various secular practises that claim to ensure mental resilience such as religious fasting etc. 

They also become so occupied with this fear and doing many things to prevent it from happening that they neglect their other areas of responsibility like their work, their personal relationships etc. 

At some point they might develop other phobias, anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social phobias, as well as agoraphobia if their symptoms cause much dysfunction in their lives, and because of this they might also develop a sense of hopelessness and eventually, depression. 

What causes Dementophobia?

It has not been clearly determined what causes Dementophobia however, it is suspected that the phobia is caused by the following factors:

  • Genetic vulnerability to anxiety and other mental disorders.
  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Past negative experiences related to mental illnesses 
  • Experincing trauma or child abuse in the hands of a parent who had mental illnesses
  • Learned ostracisation and stigma related to mental illness that has led them to believe that having a mental disorder is bad. 
  • Consumption of biassed media that pushes the idea that mental illnesses are bad or has been shown in a negative light. 

The major factor related to the occurrence of dementophobia is stigma. Be it stigma present in society related to mental illness that the individual learned or having experienced stigma and ostracization from society due to mental illness. 

How to cope with Dementophobia?

Here are a few things that you can do to cope with Dementophobia, provided that it is not causing any dysfunction of your day to day lives, and it is mild or manageable. 

  • Educate oneself about mental illness and understand what counselling and therapy is.
  • Engaging in Rationalising your thoughts related to your fears and anxiety by making use of worksheets and workbooks related to anxiety and phobias while also putting forward real evidence to calm your anxieties.
  • Exercises to help you calm down, expel excess energies, and to maintain an elevated and happy mood. 
  • Take classes and workshops that aim to help individuals develop mental resilience in healthy and helpful ways.
  • Seeking out support from friends and family in the case that you find yourself extremely afraid. Reaching out to them, via phone call or asking them to be with you on days that the anxiety is really overpowering can be a good way to cope. 

What are the treatment options for Dementophobia?

If your symptoms are debilitating or severe to the point where it is getting in the way of your day to day life, the most advisable thing you can do is to seek treatment from a mental health professional.

The treatment options for this particular phobia follow the same treatment as most Specific phobia treatments go.

You will have the option of engaging in Behavioural change techniques used in behavioural therapy as well as cognitive behavioural therapy techniques which have enough evidence that set them as good treatment options for anxiety and specific phobia disorders. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy

In terms of Cognitive behavioural therapies your therapist will teach you how to regulate your negative and irrational thoughts when you come across triggers. 

As you engage in therapy you will start learning to alter your thoughts, develop an awareness of how you feel, challenge your beliefs and assumptions surrounding mental illness and mental health and build healthier and well-informed ones. 

Rational Emotive Behavioural therapy

REBT is an action-oriented type of CBT that addresses unhealthy or irrational beliefs and attitudes that influence thoughts,  emotions, and behaviours. 

It follows the ABC model of developing an awareness about the processes that influenced the development of the phobia such as the activating event, the beliefs that were developed as a result and the consequences of those beliefs. 

It uses a method known as “disputing” to assist individuals develop realistic and healthy beliefs and as a consequence develop the ability to rationalise their thoughts and their emotional and behavioural responses as well. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Scelerophobia

MBSR is an evidence-based program that involves mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. 

MBSR could be helpful in helping individuals deal with their phobia as it has been found to be effective in tackling anxiety issues by helping individuals learn how to develop a mindful awareness of ones thoughts and behaviours that aggravate anxiety. 

The program involves teaching and training individuals to develop skills to cope with the ansirty or to reduce the intensity of the anxiety. 

Pharmacological treatment

If your anxiety is extremely severe your doctor may prescribe you antidepressants or an anti-anxiety medication to assist your phobia treatment, your panic, and other physical symptoms.

These medications will most probably be prescribed to you in the case that you have been diagnosed with Specific phobia disorder, meaning that the phobia has now affected your life significantly. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what Dementophobia is.

We have also explored the symptoms of this phobia, the causes of its development, and how to cope or manage this phobia. 

FAQ related to Dementophobia

What is Scelerophobia?

Scelerophobia refers to the fear of crime or criminals.

The term Scelerophiba comes from the latin word “Scelero” which means “crime” or “wickedness”.

So people with this particular phobia would struggle with the irrational fear of having something wicked or something criminal done to them such as being robbed, or mugged, or being held hostage in their homes etc. 

What is Anablephobia?

Anablephobia refers to the irrational fear of looking up.

For an individual that has been affected by this phobia, they experience high levels of anxiety when they consider the thought of looking up. 

It is believe that the reason for this irrational fear is due to their individual to cope with the vastness of the sky above as well as the fear of having something fall down such as objects, planes, etc, 

What is Microphobia?

Microphobia is the fear of small things.

Individuals with this particular phobia experience fear and anxiety when it comes to triggers that are small. 

Often small objects such as grains, sand particles, dust particles etcs and also includes microscopic organisms, such as germs, cells, or things that are so small that it is not observable by the naked eye can cause anxiety symptoms in them. 

What is Eremophobia ?

Eremophobia also known as Autophobia is the fear of being alone or the fear of experiencing loneliness. 

For individuals who struggle with this phobia, they experience high anxiety and fear when they perceive themselves as being alone or in a situation where they believe themselves as secluded. 

How to treat phobias?

If your symptoms are debilitating or severe to the point where it is getting in the way of your day to day life, the most advisable thing you can do is to seek treatment from a mental health professional.

The treatment options for this particular phobia follow the same treatment as most Specific phobia treatments go. 

You will have the option of engaging in Behavioural change techniques used in behavioural therapy as well as cognitive behavioural therapy techniques which have enough evidence that set them as good treatment options for anxiety and specific phobia disorders. 

References

Fritscher.L. Symptoms and Factors of Dementophobia. Verywell well. Retrieved on 2nd February 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fear-of-madness-2671771#:~:text=Dementophobia%20is%20a%20type%20of,or%20 periods%20of%20severe%20stress.

Olsen. J. Fear of Insanity Phobia – Dementophobia. Fear Of.org. Retrieved on 2nd February 2022. https://www.fearof.net/fear-of-insanity-phobia-dementophobia/

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