Excessive Fear of Pain
Do you freak out whenever you experience even the slightest of pain? Pain has the ability to scare people, but in your case, the distress you feel is too much. You are aware that your reactions to pain are intense, but you can’t help acting in that manner. If this sounds familiar, you might have Algophobia.
What is Algophobia or Algiophobia?
Fear is a normal reaction to pain, but for people with Algophobia, the dread they experience is deep and extreme to an extent that it can interfere with their daily life. They might not leave their homes nor engage in usual everyday activities for fear of coming across something that can cause them pain.
In severe cases, the mere thought of experiencing pain can trigger the condition. Sometimes, the condition can even lead to psychological pain, and this can turn into a vicious and debilitating cycle of pain and fear.
What Causes the Fear of Pain?
Mental health experts and behavioral psychologists suggest that most phobias, including Algophobia, can be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
For example, people who have a parent or relative dealing with Algophobia have an increased risk of developing the phobia as well.
Certain life experiences, especially traumatic events, could also cause phobias. For example, during childhood, you had an injury that caused you severe pain. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may also have an increased risk of developing Algophobia.
Symptoms of Algophobia
People with a fear of fainting usually have symptoms that are similar to other phobias. These can be classified as physical symptoms and psychological symptoms.
Some of the symptoms are as follows:
● Excessive sweating
● Increased heartbeat
● Severe anxiety attacks
● Extreme anger and loss of control
● Intense feelings of stress or terror
● The mental health of the person deteriorates rapidly
● Detachment from reality
● Inability to think and speak clearly
Self-help for Algophobia
The first thing you can do for yourself as an algophobic sufferer is reach out to and get the help of a professional psychologist or any other expert in the field. This is the only proven way to get cured, however, there are other things that you and other patients like you can do to manage your phobic symptoms and disorders pending the duration of your treatment.
The first self-help tip is to practice relaxation techniques. From Yoga to a massage to just breathing control, deliberate taking time to practice relaxation. These will help your mind relax and will also slow down your anxiety levels drastically. There are different forms of relaxation and not all work for everybody. It is important to try out different styles to find the technique that works for you.
A popular relaxation method is the ‘Transcendental meditation’. This involves making vibrating sounds like “Om” which activates your vagus nerves. This can slow down your heart rate and immediately produce a calming effect.
If your Algophobia is a result of pre-existing conditions such as arthritis in old people, the progressive muscle relaxation technique is one that might do wonders for you. It involves a repeated circle of tensing and releasing the muscles of your body from feet up to the neck. Contracting and relaxing the muscles slowly and repeatedly by focusing all your attention solely on the process, is massive self-help therapy.
Another helpful technique is visualization. This simply means mentally visualizing that you are successfully handling a situation that involves pain. Your mind is at the center of all your fears and anxieties and so to help yourself, you must first convince your mind that you are capable of handling pain and discomfort. Hence, the first step is to visualize it and then move on towards gradually doing it.
Positive Visualization also comes in handy when you are trying to avoid intrusive thoughts and fears that seep into your mind and exaggerate your fears or triggers. One known trick is to visualize someone standing at the door, shouting all these scary possibilities at you. This makes you want to avoid your triggers, and then you visualize yourself going to shut the door on them and putting an end to the yapping.
You can also try to join group therapies and even reach out to people with similar phobias and symptoms. Knowing that you are not alone and that you are a part of a community of similar people will do wonders for your confidence in overcoming your phobia. Online communities, group chats, physical sessions with a moderator, all these have been known to help phonic sufferers cope with their depression and isolation symptoms that come with the condition.
Professional Help for the Phobia
Some of the available treatments that have proven to be useful in such situations are as follows:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is a psychotherapy that uses a practical approach to treating anxiety and disorders, but it is also proven to be useful in treating phobias.
CBT focuses on changing any negative thoughts and ideas that trigger the condition. In the case of Algophobia, the therapist uses a structured approach to help patients realize how their thoughts and perceptions are triggering their phobia. The aim is to teach the patient to view their object of fear more clearly and develop ways to respond to it productively.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is rooted in five key principles which are:
● There is always another point of view.
● Events don’t cause feelings
● We all have unique ways of seeing the world
● Mind affects the body; body affects the mind.
● Our minds are scientific.
All of these principles, once well understood by the patient, can help them approach their triggers and symptoms from a more informed and balanced mental state.
2. Systematic Desensitization
Also known as exposure therapy, it is another useful way in which the patient is gradually exposed to the object of fear until they become completely desensitized and no longer have visceral reactions towards it. There are two ways of performing this procedure: In vitro or In Vivo. The former involves the patient visualizing being exposed to the phobic trigger while the latter means that the patient is physically placed in contact with a stimulus. This is done in controlled measures and must involve the help of an expert in order to avoid extreme reactions where the patient is too exposed and can end up fainting or experience something worse.
How to Overcome the Fear of Pain
● The first step is understanding how your phobia works and then deciding on taking steps toward overcoming it.
● When you experience pain, try taking deep calming breaths to slow down your heartbeat and prevent your panic from getting the better of you.
● You can’t fight this on your own. Open up to your friends and family about how Algophobia has affected your life and they can help you get through it.
● You can’t beat the phobia by locking yourself in your house and distancing yourself from the world. Go out and live your life. Strive to fight your fear.
Work through the Fear of Pain
A lot of the self-help tips and professional therapies go hand in hand, meditation and relaxation techniques help the patient through the desensitization stage of their professional therapy and positive visualization is quite similar to the ‘In Vitro’ systematic desensitization technique.
All in all, it is important to remember that overcoming the fear of pain is possible. The first step is always the most difficult. But with commitment and the right support from the people you trust or even an expert medical provider (or both), you can break free from the chains of Algophobia and enjoy your life.