Do You Fear Being Fatigued?
Have you been battling exhaustion for some time now (say, months)? As a result, have you developed an intense, irrational fear of bad things happening when fatigue occurs?
Or, could it be that you witnessed a loved one dealing with severe fatigue that led to illness or dire repercussions. And because of that, maybe you avoid things that tire you.
In either situation, as a coping mechanism, you’ve ended up developing an acute aversion to the thought of getting tired or engaging in activity that can wear you out.
The condition you suffer from may be kopophobia.
Whether you’re exhibiting any of the signs above, or just want to learn more about this disorder, here are a few things to know about this peculiar condition.
What Is the Fear of Fatigue and Exhaustion?
What is kopophobia? Kopophobia is the persistent, excessive, irrational fear of becoming fatigued. Sufferers of this condition tend to avoid anything that can lead to fatigue in general.
For instance, any slight feeling of losing energy or getting tired after a day’s job could trigger extreme reactions from an individual with kopophobia. Avoiding fatigue could also take the form of disengaging in otherwise regular daily life activities, such as going to school, cleaning, cooking, exercising, etc.
Individuals with kopophobia can’t help but act in such a manner. They know that avoiding getting tired is almost impossible, and doing so is not an ideal way to live. However, anxiety about being tired could leave them paralyzed with fear.
In extreme cases, even the perception of fatigue can lead to dire reactions.
People suffering from kopophobia might have developed the condition from a current or previous fatigue-related illness. Another possibility is that the phobia might have been inherited from a parent. Some people are also said to have an increased risk of developing phobias, for instance, those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or anxiety.
Symptoms of Kopophobia/Fear of Becoming Fatigued
People with kopophobia can experience symptoms associated with other forms of phobias.
Physical Kopophobia Symptoms Include:
- Hot or cold flashes
- Muscle tension
- Dry mouth
- Increased heartbeat
- Sweating profusely
Psychological Kopophobia Symptoms Include:
- Apprehensive anxiety
- Panic attack
Self-Help for Kopophobia
If you are a phobia sufferer, challenge yourself to think that you can control your mind and learn to choose healthy, positive reactions to fatigue. Little by little, try to convince yourself that tiredness is a normal reaction of the body whenever you exert effort in performing physical or mental activity. That fatigue is only a sign that the body needs rest — it’s not the onset of a catastrophic illness.
Another thing you can try is to gradually expose yourself to doing physical activity. Start with simple physical exercises, such as basic yoga positions. The “feel-good” effects of exercise can help alleviate anxiety and stress symptoms.
Read up on fatigue. Educating yourself about your condition can help you feel more in control. You’ll learn to recognize when your physiological and psychological reactions to fatigue are typical, and when they are severe. Learning as much as you can about your condition is a great step to help guide you as you battle the condition.
Indulge yourself in activities that can relax the body. For instance, go for massages when you start feeling tired. Take a day off, unplug, rest, and be ready to go again when you have recovered your energy. Taking a day or two to rest is more productive than avoiding an activity or situation because you are feeling apprehensive about the possibility of experiencing fatigue.
Maintaining a proper diet is another efficient way to curb fatigue. Eating healthy and nutritious meals will reduce your tendency to be chronically fatigued.
Meditation and mindfulness are also good coping strategies for the short-term treatment of phobias. These practices can help a phobia sufferer get through when symptoms flare up.
Professional Help for Kopophobia
Deciding to seek kopophobia treatment is already a giant stride toward recovery. What are the available options for people suffering from this phobia? Possible treatments include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most frequently used treatment for disorders of this nature. This approach involves altering the patient’s thinking pattern and behavior so that they have healthy and positive thoughts. Although CBT is long term, it can result in great outcomes as patients may learn to manage their response to the condition’s triggers.
In this treatment, the therapist helps patients uncover the source of their fear. Patients are also encouraged to have thought diaries or journals to assess their thoughts and replacements properly.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
NLP employs the key elements of action, modeling, and effective communication to treat disorders such as kopophobia. The therapist understands that every individual is different, and each has unique views and experiences. In the treatment, the therapist helps patients learn: why they think and behave the way they do; how their views affect the way they act in their world; and how to adjust the way they process information so that they can react positively and productively. The therapist encourages patients to view the world not only from their eyes, but also from other people’s point of view. The goal is to help patients understand that people’s thoughts, language, and behavior patterns are a product of their viewpoint, which may not be accurate.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy, commonly used in treating patients with personality disorders, can be effective in helping people with kopophobia. The therapy is long term and aims to train patients with alternative ways of reacting to their condition’s triggers. Coping strategies include: half-smiling; mindfulness; and distress tolerance skills.
Other Professional Help
In severe cases, the doctor may also prescribe medication. However, the prescribed medication is only for alleviating the physiological symptoms, not for treating the phobia itself. The medication is also meant for short-term use only (typically around one or two weeks, or once the desired effects have been achieved). The medication can be helpful for patients whose phobia is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or a similar condition.
Tips for Coping with Kopophobia
To recover from the phobia, you will have to be intentional and forthright with your preferred treatment procedures.
Regularly visualizing a life where you are free from your fear would also do wonders. A life where you don’t get distressed anymore from the thought of tiredness; one where you can get things done without fear.
Also, be kind to yourself. Know that when you start feeling tired, it is fine to take a step back until you’ve recharged.
Expose yourself gradually to the normalcy of being tired. Listen to your therapist’s advice. Eat and sleep right.
Regardless of where you got your phobia, know that you can beat it. Confronting your fear my be difficult. But gradually, and with proper support, you can face your fear and learn to adjust your response. Taking as long as you need to get comfortable with the process is fine. What’s important is you’ve decided to go for it. You might even surprise yourself with how quickly you’ll banish your fear.