Cainophobia – The Fear of Newness

Cainophobia, Not a New Problem

Are you uncomfortable with unfamiliar things? Do you cringe at change, innovation, novelties?

Many people are afraid of change or of trying new things. However, if the fear is excessive enough to result in physical and mental health issues, the reason could be a condition called cainophobia.

Cainophobia—the extreme and morbid fear of newness—is also known by other names: cainotophobia; kainophobia; kainolophobia; and neophobia. Let’s explore what could cause this type of phobia, what its symptoms look like, and what treatment options are available to us.

Quick Fact:

The fear of new things or newness is also known as cenophobia or centophobia

What Is Cainophobia?

Cainophobia could be caused by several things, including: a specific triggering incident or trauma; a genetic disposition to anxiety; or changes in brain functioning.

For instance, a person might have had a past experience of extreme disappointment or even a life-threatening situation, and that event was a result of some kind of change. In such cases, the risk of developing cainophobia is elevated.

Another possibility is that the phobia has been brought about by the sufferer’s impulsive desire to always be in control. With this one, change would mean going out of the phobia sufferer’s comfort zone. For this individual, they view change as something that should be avoided.

Whatever the cause, having cainophobia can be detrimental to one’s well-being and quality of life. Avoiding new things by constantly staying in the same situations or conditions is risky, even impossible. No matter how much we avoid change or new things, we cannot completely prevent them from happening. Sufferers of cainophobia have difficulty dealing with this reality.

Common Cainophobia Symptoms

Similar to other people with phobia, sufferers of cainophobia may experience a variety of painful physical and mental symptoms as a result of their condition.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Hyperventilating
  • High blood pressure
  • Labored breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Trembling
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest pains
  • Shock
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Stuttering
  • Rapid speech

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Becoming hysterical
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Self-help for Cainophobia

Physical Activity

Physical activity is one very effective way of dealing with anxiety and other stress-related symptoms. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins and, when done consistently, can decrease overall levels of tension. With all its benefits to people’s physical and mental condition, exercise is considered a vital tool for coping well with phobia symptoms.

Breathing Exercises

Difficulty in breathing is commonly associated with phobia. Practicing controlled breathing and exercises can help stabilize blood pressure and manage their phobia triggers.


Meditation is another proven way of dealing with phobia symptoms, depression, and anxiety. Meditation, along with relaxation and mindfulness, can improve how sufferers react to stress.


Visualization is an approach in which phobia sufferers are encouraged to visualize themselves getting into a new situation and handling it with ease. They are asked to picture themselves having no panic attacks, no sweating—just moving through the new situation in confidence and trusting in their ability to handle whatever surprises the change might bring.


Practicing yoga is a known way of de-stressing and enhancing one’s overall sense of well being. Several studies have found evidence of yoga’s effectiveness in reducing stress and anxiety. Growing evidence shows yoga to be an relatively low-risk, yet high-yield approach to improving mental and physical health.


While not a cure-all, journaling has proven to offer benefits to mental health. This practice can improve mood and manage depression symptoms. For people with anxiety disorders, including phobia, journaling can help in tracking any symptoms so that they can recognize triggers and learn ways to control them. Keeping a journal also helps phobia sufferers prioritize problems and concerns, and provides an opportunity for positive self-talk.

Professional Help for the Fear-of-Newness Phobia

There are several cainophobia treatment options available.

Exposure Therapy

This is an approach where patients are gradually but repeatedly exposed to the object of their fears. The aim is to desensitize the phobia sufferer to the things that frighten them. The therapy is started in a controlled environment, then later on, the patient is encouraged to initiate change by themselves, from simple adjustments (for example, a new habit) to major lifestyle modifications (for example, moving to a new house).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This treatment strives to teach patients to identify and then replace harmful thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones. The aim is to help patients understand why they think and react the way they do about new situations, and then teach them to respond to unfamiliarity productively.


If the symptoms are extreme, doctors may prescribe medication to help patients manage their discomfort. The medication does not cure the phobia, but eases the symptoms during the time they are active.

Talk Therapy

This involves the help of an expert psychiatrist or mental health practitioner who guides the patients through their trauma and fear by letting them talk it through and process it vocally. The therapy can be done in a group to encourage listening to those with similar experiences. Or, it can be done one on one in scheduled, consistent sessions.

Seeking Treatment

As you enter therapy for the first time, expect a lot of questions from your medical provider. These questions and your answers will help your therapist get an accurate picture of your condition. So be ready to provide as many details as possible about your condition.

Some of the questions you may be asked include:

  1. What prompted you to seek therapy now?
  2. When did you first notice your symptoms?
  3. When are your symptoms likely to occur? What thoughts go through your mind before your symptoms become active?
  4. Do you notice things that make your symptoms seem better or worse than they would be otherwise?
  5. How are your symptoms affecting you and the people around you?
  6. How have you been coping with the symptoms that brought you into therapy? What have you tried so far?
  7. Do you have (or have you had) any medical condition for which you are taking (or had taken) prescribed medication?

Tips for Dealing with Cainophobia

Several ways to help avoid triggering symptoms include:

  1. Avoid caffeine.
  2. Rest better.
  3. Sleep more.
  4. Eat a healthy diet.
  5. Seek out professional help.
  6. Adhere to the doctor’s instructions.
  7. Keep an open mind.
  8. Be kind to yourself.
  9. Don’t avoid, even when you experience relapses.
  10. Attend your therapy sessions regularly.
  11. Embrace the growth and new adventures that come with change.
  12. Let your loved ones in on your healing journey.
  13. Realize that change is not the problem, but how you react to it and handle it is what determines the outcome.
  14. Learn that you cannot control everything, and certain things are out of your control.

Change and growth are inevitable in life. One can imagine how potentially debilitating cainophobia can be for people who struggle with it. But having support from a variety of sources can help improve the symptoms and address challenging situations. Also, the most difficult part of overcoming phobia is getting started. If you or a loved one has phobia and have decided to seek help, take heart and know that with each step forward, the cure comes within reach.

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