Do you feel anxious when you blush? Does even the thought of blushing leave you feeling stressed and nervous? Do you avoid meeting people or engaging in situations that may lead you to blush?
If you’ve answered yes, then you may be suffering from a fear of blushing called ereuthrophobia or ereuthophobia or sometimes erythrophobia.
For most people, blushing is a natural reaction to embarrassment, nervousness, or anxiety. However, people with ereuthrophobia are often plagued with a feeling of shame and embarrassment. They fear that this natural response may reveal their secrets.
However, ereuthrophobia is treatable. Keep reading to learn more about erythrophobia, the fear of blushing symptoms and treatments.
What Is Ereuthrophobia?
While there is no specific definition of ereuthrophobia, it is a type of phobia that causes intense anxiety and nervousness.
The term ereuthrophobia is derived from the Greek words ereuthos meaning blushing and phobia meaning fear. It is a specific phobia which is a form of anxiety disorder that causes an irrational fear of even the thought of blushing.
Ereuthrophobia is not exactly the fear of blushing itself but rather being afraid of being judged for the thoughts and feelings associated with blushing. It essentially causes one to be worried about showing a chink in their armor of confidence.
As blushing is a psychological response, the fear is quite complex and difficult to overcome. This fear intensifies the more one thinks about it. And the more you worry, the more likely you are to have anxiety or feelings of panic.
Symptoms of Ereuthrophobia
Like any other phobia, ereuthrophobia symptoms can manifest in different ways in different people. Here are some of the major physical and psychological symptoms of ereuthrophobia.
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing normally/rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- A churning feeling or butterflies in the stomach
- Chest pain
- Constant worrying
- Difficulty sleeping at night
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty continuing a conversation
There can be many reasons that can cause a person to develop ereuthrophobia. More often than not, such phobias are the result of a past traumatic experience involving the object of their fear, in this case, blushing.
It may also have been caused by a person in the family having the phobia. Even reading or hearing about someone’s past traumatic experience with blushing can lead to the development of the phobia.
Regardless of how the fear develops, like any other phobia, ereuthrophobia is also an irrational fear. However, if left untreated, it can worsen over time and significantly affect a person’s day-to-day life.
Diagnosing ereuthrophobia is slightly more complicated compared to diagnosing other phobias. This is because ereuthrophobia can easily be mistaken for normal blushing.
Typically, the doctor may consider your symptoms and may even run a few tests to confirm the phobia. Take a look at some of the criteria that help in diagnosing this social anxiety blushing:
- If your fear of blushing is excessive, persistent, and unreasonable
- Blushing or even the fear of it causes panic and anxiety
- If you avoid situations that may cause blushing to the extend it affects your daily life
- The fear is persistent for at least the last six months
- There is no other underlying mental health illness that may have led to the fear of blushing
- There are no nutritional deficiencies
If you’re wondering how to overcome erythrophobia, there are various treatment options available for the fear of blushing. The type of treatment depends upon the severity of the symptoms and the complexity of the fear. Take a look at some of the most commonly applied and effective ereuthrophobia treatments.
Self-help is often considered the best form of treatment for any form of anxiety disorder. The person suffering from it is well aware of their thoughts and triggers and that their fear is irrational.
Most people also realize that their fear is not actually due to the blushing response but how their blushing will be perceived by others. Through self-help, they can use techniques to help reduce the anxiety and nervousness that results from this fear.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is known to be particularly helpful in dealing with any form of specific phobia. Phobias are a result of how we perceive things and our reaction to the object of fear.
Through CBT, the therapist helps you divert your negative thoughts and reactions concerning the fear and replace them with positive ones. This therapy helps the individual to shift their perception of reality and reconstruct their thought process.
Another common therapy for phobias is exposure therapy. In this therapy, the therapist gradually subjects the individual to the object of their fear. For those suffering from ereuthophobia, the therapist would expose them to situations that will lead to blushing and help them gradually become accustomed to the response and overcome it.
Medication is prescribed only for severe cases when the phobia hinders the day-to-day functioning of the person. Medication therapy only treats the physiological response to phobia, not the phobia itself. However, most therapists avoid prescribing medication due to the risk of long-term dependency on drugs.
The most common antidepressants prescribed for ereuthrophobia are selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRs). These help reduce the anxiety response when blushing.
In extreme cases, beta-blockers are also used for treating the physical symptoms of anxiety. So, when a person is certain they will experience physical symptoms such as shaking or rapid heartbeat, they can take the medication in advance to avoid anxiety or panic attacks.
If no specific therapy seems to be working and you’re left wondering how to overcome the fear of blushing, a combination of therapies may be used. The therapist may implement both therapy and medication for severe cases when therapy alone is inadequate.
Ereuthrophobia is one of the few specific phobias that has a surgical treatment. The medical procedure is called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), and it is typically performed to treat excessive sweating. However, it can also help reduce blushing. In this procedure, the doctor cuts the sympathetic nerves that regulate blushing and sweating.
However, the procedure has side effects. For example, when this procedure is used to reduce sweating, sweating may stop in one area and increase in another area. Similarly, when conducted to reduce blushing, the patient may stop blushing on one side of their face but continue to blush on the other side of their face.
The patient may even experience phantom blushing, which means they feel like they are blushing when they are not.
When considering this surgical option, it’s important to remember that ereuthrophobia is an anxiety disorder. So, removing the physical blushing mechanism may not eliminate one’s fear.
This is why surgery is recommended in only very select, extreme cases when no other treatment options have worked.
Learning to Cope with Ereuthrophobia
Ereuthrophobia is a social anxiety disorder that can have a major impact on one’s social life and daily functioning.
The first step is to acknowledge the phobia and identify the root cause of the fear. Then you can develop strategies to avoid the negative reaction when faced with the object of your fear.
If self-help techniques are unsuccessful, make sure you approach a professional. Phobias should not be taken lightly or ignored. You can even try medications and surgery if you are facing an extreme form of the illness and you and your doctor deem it the right choice for you.
Blushing is such a common response that one would never think that blushing, of all the phobias, could be someone’s fear. But ereuthrophobia, or the fear of blushing, is a real phobia that can lead to severe anxiety. Make sure you seek the right treatment options, and you’ll be well on your way to conquering this fear!