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Chronophobia – The Fear of Time

The Fear of Time Is Real to Some

Do you often worry about how quickly time passes?

Do you find yourself intently listening to the sounds of the clock ticking? When thoughts about time cross your mind, do you feel uneasy or even terrified?

Before reading any further, ask yourself this: How often do I experience this fear? Does it happen once every few days? Daily? Or do you think about it all the time?

You may have chronophobia, or the fear of time. It’s quite common and affects people of all ages.

Don’t be alarmed. With a little help, this condition is manageable. Let’s take a closer look at chronophobia causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Everything You Need to Know about Chronophobia

Chronophobia comes from the Greek language where chrono means “time” and phobia means “fear.” It is a type of phobia. Health experts describe phobias as an irrational or extreme fear of something.

The tricky part is that time does not normally cause such a severe reaction in others. You may dislike cats but having a phobia of cats is a different issue. Similarly, you might get scared of time passing, but having chronophobia is a different matter.

Chronophobia is different from other phobias, since it’s not a visible object that causes the phobia. Those who fear birds or snakes simply point at them, and others know how to help them. Since time is a concept, not many of us know what to do if someone shows signs of chronophobia. And how can you avoid time or its symbols in the first place?

What Causes Chronophobia?

You may be wondering, Why do I have Chronophobia? Let’s look at some reasons why people develop this irrational fear of clocks and time.

Being Trapped and Uncertain

Have you ever been stuck in a place where it’s difficult to get out? It can be a bad marriage, jail, a bad job, or cramped living spaces. Some people who feel trapped and cannot find a way to escape their situation develop chronophobia.

Prison inmates who are unable to measure time suffer from prison neurosis, which is a kind of chronophobia. Refugees in camps wonder if things will ever get back to normal. These groups may start measuring time obsessively while being unsure about how long they must continue living in their temporary arrangement.

Physical or Mental Trauma

Victims of sexual abuse, survivors of natural disasters or accidents, and the bereaved are prone to other mental health issues. The event may be directly linked to the passage of time, hence the negative association. On rare occasions, a head injury or a neurological disease affects how the brain functions, which can cause phobias.


A fear of aging or getting old can worsen into a case of chronophobia. They have regrets or apprehensions about how they have spent their time. These people question their choices and are unable to find clarity in their present lives. Their fears could also be the result of a task left undone or unfulfilled desires.


Having a spate of failures or being constantly reminded of how unsuccessful you are can become another trigger for time-related phobias. These people are ambitious but can never seem to catch a break. They develop this phobia as they start tracking time and seeing how far they are from success.

Terminal Illness

This phobia is common among patients who are aware of their severe illness. They fear death and start developing a phobia of how quickly time is passing by.

If you think you or someone you care about is facing this issue, try to observe and make note of their symptoms.

Chronophobia Symptoms

Those with chronophobia are aware of how unrealistic and illogical their fear is, yet they still succumb to it. That’s a surefire sign they are dealing with a phobia. Here are more symptoms you might experience if you’re struggling with chronophobia.

Mental/Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling detached from reality, as if the person is watching life from a third person’s perspective
  • Panic attacks
  • Confusion and a sudden feeling of disorientation
  • Overwhelming, dark thoughts of death
  • Fear of losing or wasting time
  • Feeling emotional and acting unreasonably

Physical Symptoms

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach upset
  • Unexplainable body pain
  • Fainting spells
  • Breathlessness
  • Increase in heartbreak

Symptoms only help identify the problem. If you observe these signs consistently, it’s time to accept that you may need help.

How to Cope with Chronophobia through Self-Help

It is possible for a chronophobic to lead a normal life. The best way to help yourself is by identifying your phobia and taking the right course of action as soon as you are ready.

Try the following:
1. Do research on chronophobia.
2. Make a note of all your symptoms.
3. Maintain a personal diary to write about your thoughts.
4. Confide in your loved ones and talk about how you feel.
5. Try meditating, yoga, or exercise to clear your head and channel your thoughts.
6. Use various mental health exercises to learn new things about yourself.
7. Play games to divert your mind and keep your brain active.

However, if you’re unable to identify the cause of your phobia, or if self-help methods aren’t enough, don’t fret. You can consult a specialist who can help you.

Getting Professional Chronophobia Treatment

There are many professional treatments available for chronophobia. Experts who have treated similar cases may inquire about your medical history and life experiences to identify the root cause of the issue. They may also ask you to take a chronophobia test.

If you visit a therapist, it may take several sessions to understand your problem. Based on the issue, they will advise a therapy tailored to your needs. Most of these therapies are commonly used to treat other mental health issues. Here are some treatment options they might recommend:


Also known as talking therapy, the expert methodically discusses your experiences and emotions. As a third person and a trained consultant, they know what to ask and how to decipher the meaning of your answers.


In some cases, hypnotherapy is used to put you in a deep sleep. This allows the therapist to explore your subconscious.


Consider this a last resort. In severe cases, prescribed drugs can also be used to manage physical symptoms of the phobia.

Learning to Live with Chronophobia

Prevention can be challenging with phobias, as they often focus on everyday objects or abstract triggers that are impossible to avoid. Even after you have undergone treatment, traces of the phobia may linger. Most phobias can never be fully cured. However, you can use various methods to reduce the symptoms.

In Conclusion

Most people fear time and death. However, an unhealthy obsession with either is something that shouldn’t be ignored. See treatment if your fear of time is impacting your ability to live a normal, healthy life.


Stories Submitted by Our Readers

Fear of Time

In college, our professor gave the class a timed assignment. We had fifteen minutes to create a media post of our thoughts on the class that day. As soon as I heard the time limit, I could literally hear ticking. Not like your regular ticking, but the one you hear during a movie when the bomb squad is trying to stop the timer on a bomb. I began to feel like I couldn’t breathe, like I was drowning in quicksand.

My main problem is that it’s very difficult to start a task, because I worry about how much time it will take to finish the job. Instead of going to work on the task at hand, I find myself watching the minutes go by like time is on the run.

Mark G.


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