Gerascophobia – The Fear of Growing Old
Does watching movies like ‘The Notebook,’ and ‘Tokyo Story’ make you feel weird while you find solace in watching ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.’?
Do you also get hot flushes and chilling every time someone talks about growing old? Or does your heart start beating faster while you feel choked when someone talks about what age is doing to their body? If the answer to all or any of these questions is yes, chances are that you are probably suffering from gerascophobia.
Before you try to face your fear and confront it, it is best to learn a little about it. Here are some things that you should know about gerascophobia – the fear of growing old.
What is Gerascophobia?
What is the word for fear of growing old, you ask? Gerascophobia. Breaking down the greek term ‘Gerascophobia’, ‘tha geraso’ is a phrase that means ‘I am getting older’ and ‘phobos’ means dreading something. In short, Gerascophobia is the fear of growing old.
Most people fear getting older. With increasing age come the deteriorating physical and psychological functions like receding gums, weight fluctuations, memory loss, and many more. To top it all, the fear of death. Humans have been searching for an elixir that can keep them young forever since time immemorial. We’re no strangers to the stories of our fellow American brothers and their quest to find the “fountain of youth.”
Is Gerascophobia common? 4-6% of Americans suffer from the fear of growing old. In extreme cases of Gerascophobia, the patient experiences constant irrational fear of getting old. Their eyes are always set on the ticking clock. The adverse effects and consequences this phobia can have on an individual are far too many. It can interfere with your social, professional, and personal life.
More often than not, the phobic realizes that the fear of growing up is ridiculous but they feel powerless. If you’re wondering what causes Gerascophobia or continuously asking yourself “why am I scared of growing old?” It is a clinical phobia that is generally classified under a single panic trigger. It may be based on your anxieties related to being left alone. Some people might feel they are incapable of taking care of themselves due to the disabilities that come along with old age.
Before we start talking about symptoms, it is important to understand that different individuals have different responses to a particular phobia. The intensity of the fear that you feel will be different from someone else going through the same thing. Some people, however, get so overwhelmed and afraid of aging that they get anxiety and panic attacks along with the following symptoms:
Psychological symptoms are the symptoms that affect the mind of a person and cannot be seen by naked eyes.
● Disconnection from reality, muddled head, and inability to express
● Helplessness, hopelessness, and out of control mentally.
Physical symptoms are the symptoms that affect the body of a person and can be seen by naked eyes.
● Shaky balance, shivering, and chills
● Heart palpitations/increased heart rate
Behavioral symptoms are persistent or repetitive behaviors that are unusual, disruptive, inappropriate, or cause problems. One may face the following:
It is quite normal for a person to feel completely withdrawn if he/she is experiencing such symptoms. This can greatly affect your day-to-day life too. Excessive worrying about having this phobia might also lead to you feel stressed which can further cause health issues. You are more likely to be at risk of high blood pressure or heart diseases.
Now that you’ve gone through the symptoms, the next thing you might be pondering over is how do I get over my fear of growing old? or how do you treat Gerascophobia? It can be treated either yourself or you might seek professional help too. If you’re looking to confront your fear on your own, here are some pointers that may help you:
To begin with, you need to come up with a self-help program that can help you face and confront your fears. You can consult a psychologist before creating one on your own or you can refer to the below-mentioned points.
Lifestyle changes can help with symptoms like panic attacks. Eating healthy meals and exercising regularly, reducing caffeine and other stimulants, and getting proper sleep at night could be a few.
Relaxation techniques help you control and relax your breathing. You can work on your visualization techniques where you see yourself dealing with a phobia fiercely. This combines relaxation and breathing techniques.
Self-help groups are another useful method of overcoming a phobia. Seek out like-minded people and share your experiences with them. Sometimes, opening up and talking about your fears out loud can take you a long way. People who are dealing with the same thing that you are, are more likely to relate to you and together you guys can overcome your phobias.
Other than that, self-help techniques like yoga, meditation, and positive visualization can help to a great extent.
In case you’re unable to deal with your phobia on your own, there are plenty of professional methods out there to help you out. Before seeking professional help, you can get the Gerascophobia test done to ensure that you do have the phobia. Consult a psychologist, they will help you in this process. Here are a few techniques that can be explored:
This type of therapy is closely related to CBT (cognitive behavior therapy). It consists of 5 steps- evaluation, feedback, developing a hierarchy against fear, exposure, and building upon the rationalization steps. Such types of therapists would help you change the way you think about your phobia. They would help you rethink your thoughts, feeling, and responses about aging and teach you how to control them better. This process might also include looking at pictures or videos of old age to help you confront your fear.
Energy Psychology or the Emotional Freedom Technique
A form of acupuncture technique that doesn’t require needles. It will help you get to the bottom of the phobia. It will remove any kind of negative association with getting old.
How to Avoid Gerascophobia?
Maintain a Positive Outlook
There is no escaping getting old and a serving of losses, downsides, struggles, and heartbreaks. While this might make us feel powerless and overwhelmed, it is essential to be optimistic. We need to constantly focus on the positives about ourselves, other people, and the huge world in front of us. Be grateful and appreciate all the great things that you have in life.
Embrace Your Fears
As we get older, the fear in us about aging only gets bolder. If you want to grow old happily, the key is to pay attention to your phobia and confront it sooner rather than later. Hear what your body and brain are trying to tell you, listen properly to what it needs.
Create Cheerful Daily Habits
Learn to live in the present and not care too much about the past or the future. As you make some lifestyle choices, reward yourself once in a while with some breaks. Take out time for things that you like to do. Don’t just run after success, stay where you are to enjoy the moment you are in.
The society that we live in, provides us with quite a few useful guidelines about positively growing old. The elder person in every family is responsible for solving a crisis, upholding values, and mentoring the young. You need to be your own elder. Be there for yourself.
As a society, we should accept that there is nothing wrong with aging. All of us will grow old. While everyone wants to leave a mark in this world, it is essential to understand the importance of being present. We need to start living in the present, focusing on the people around us, living in the moment, and living our lives to the fullest.
I hope that you have understood is there a fear of growing old in you and if yes, what is the fear of old age and how to confront it after reading the article.