Looking Into the Fear of the Future
Do you often avoid being around or looking at clocks or watches? Have you ever skipped birthdays, anniversaries, or graduations for fear of the idea of the passage of time? Does looking at a calendar spark anxiety or panic?
If so, you may be dealing with the fear of the passage of time, or fear of the future.
This phobia is more commonly seen in the elderly or those suffering from an illness. It can not only make you fearful of any milestones marking the passage of time but also make you obsessed with time in general.
While this fear of the future can be difficult to deal with, there are various tools and techniques that can help you gradually overcome it.
What Is This Excessive Fear of the Future?
An excessive fear or the future is closely related to chronophobia, which is the fear of time.
It affects people with future uncertainty who do not know what their future will bring or those who are afraid of facing tomorrow.
This fear is common among those who are ill or elderly because these groups tend to have future anxiety. Those in such situations often worry about facing the future; they may expect poor outcomes or even death. The phobia is also common among prisoners and is referred to as “prison neurosis.”
So, it is this fear of the unknown that causes severe anxiety and even panic attacks. The person may feel doomed, as if they have no future. They may also feel their days on Earth are numbered as they age and come closer to death. The uncertainty of what lies after death also causes anxiety and fear.
A fear of the future is a powerful irrational fear of time and is classified as a specific phobia. People that are scared of the future often worry they don’t have enough time to accomplish goals.
Such people often find themselves obsessing over watches and calendars, either watching them continuously or avoiding them altogether. And in the case of avoidance, this can affect their professional lives as they may fail to meet deadlines or experience trouble at school or work.
While the fear of the future is a common fear that almost everyone has to some degree, it becomes excessive for those with an actual phobia.
Causes of Excessive Fear of the Future
So, what causes the fear of tomorrow?
The exact reason for the cause of any phobia is largely unknown, but like most different kinds of phobias, it is a combination of factors that results in one developing the phobia.
Genetics and environment are the two main factors that play a role in a person developing this excessive fear.
It could also be triggered by a traumatic event like being trapped in a cave, or having near-death experiences or other similar trauma. Such high-anxiety situations may cause survivors to develop the fear.
A person may also be genetically predisposed to fear of the future or other mental health issues, in which case even the smallest of triggers can lead to the onset of the phobia.
Symptoms of Excessive Fear of the Future
Here are some of the physical and mental/emotional symptoms that a person with this fear may experience.
- Shortness of breath
- Severe anxiety
- Feeling of dread
- Obsessive behaviors
- Panic attack
- Continuous thoughts of a dreadful tomorrow
- Avoiding future talks
- Constantly worrying about the future
- Obsessed with keeping track of time and date or the opposite
- Circular thought patterns
Treatment of Excessive Fear of the Future
An excessive fear of the future, if left untreated, can lead to severe consequences like social isolation, relationship issues, mood disorders, substance abuse disorder, and depression. Because of this, it’s wise to address it as soon as possible.
While there is no defined treatment for every phobia, all phobias coming under the specific phobia category can be treated using similar techniques.
Acknowledging your phobia is the first step towards a healthier you. Once you learn about your triggers and the level of anxiety you experience, you can begin to manage your phobia with self-help techniques.
Some of the best self-help techniques are:
- Deep breathing
- Relaxation techniques
These techniques can help reduce anxiety or panic and calm the nerves when faced with your fears. Additionally, if you are in the middle of a panic attack, try deep or rhythmic breathing, counting numbers, distraction techniques, etc., which will help you cope with the anxiety.
You can also start journaling. Journaling is recommended by doctors for patients with mental illnesses as it can serve as a safe place for you to vent your thoughts. Rereading the previous entries will also help you distinguish your rational thoughts from the irrational ones and will go a long way in helping you overcome anxiety.
Getting professional help is important when dealing with any phobia, especially if your fear has started hindering your daily life.
Mental health professionals are trained and experienced in dealing with anxiety disorders and specific phobias. They will be able to accurately diagnose your condition and determine the best form of treatment for you.
They may use one or more of the following therapies:
- Exposure therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
If needed, the doctor may even prescribe medications like anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. These are meant to subdue the extreme symptoms of the phobia, but they are not a cure for the phobia itself.
Coping with Excessive Fear of the Future
Living in constant worry about the future can be exhausting, leaving you unable to appreciate the present while always being scared of what comes next.
It’s crucial to seek help, whether it’s in the form of self-help or professional treatment. It’s also a good idea to open up to your friends and family as they can offer you support and understanding.
You might also consider joining a support group, so you can get different perspectives from those in a similar situation.
Spending every second worrying about what is to come sounds like a nightmare, and that’s exactly what an excessive fear or the future can be. This irrational phobia can engulf you and impede your life.
Fortunately, there are many treatment methods that can help you deal with this fear and possibly even overcome it, so you can enjoy every moment as it comes.