Soteriophobia – The Fear of Dependence on Others
Do you dread the thought of taking someone else’s help?
Do you avoid being around people to avoid being dependent on them? If the answer is yes, you may have Soteriophobia.
If you have cold feet by only thinking about taking the assistance of others in certain situations, there may be something deeper at work.
While for some it is harmonious living and a give-and-take relationship with people, for someone suffering from Soteriophobia it is dreadful.
Being dependent on others should not be that hard. The dread of depending on others may not allow you to treat it for good. But wait, let me tell you something, it turns out that like many other phobias, Soteriophobia too is curable. Now, let’s explore the fear to learn how to beat it.
What is Soteriophobia?
Soteriophobia is the fear of dependence on others. Sufferers feel extreme dread when they have to take help or depend on someone, even when it is for the best. Soteriophobia is a social phobia. Social phobias are phobias where sufferers dread social situations or other people. It can be performance anxiety or their fear of embarrassing or humiliating themselves. Some common examples of social phobias are the fear of public speaking, eating in public, etc. When it comes to Soteriophobics, they believe in free will and self-sufficiency and hence have a strong aversion towards dependency. They feel threatened when they think of being dependent on others. Usually, social phobics avoid the social situations that cause them dread. This anxiety can be to the extent of getting a full-blown panic attack. Hence, they start avoiding getting into such situations where they can need other people’s help, which can result in seclusion and conflicting feelings of isolation. These behaviors then become repetitive, worsening the phobia. Sufferers keep avoiding their phobia compulsively to eliminate anxiety which can even lead to the development of OCD.
What Causes Soteriophobia?
Soteriophobia causes are similar to that of other phobias although they may be a little complex given it is a social phobia. Social phobias have complex causes, it can be one’s heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry combining with traumatic events that trigger the phobia. However, it is mostly genetic and trauma working in tandem to develop Soteriophobia.
Someone with a family history of mental illnesses like anxiety disorders or specific phobias is more likely to develop Soteriophobia than others because they have a genetic predisposition towards it. But genetics alone cannot develop a phobia, it generally requires a trigger event that instigates anxiety related to dependency.
A traumatic experience can serve as a trigger event. It can be anything that caused an imbalance in the person’s mental stability. For example, the person might have suffered through being dependent on others in the past – such as during a toxic relationship or a difficult childhood. The trigger event can also be a heard story of someone’s dependency gone wrong, a story of someone being exploited after depending on others.
Soteriophobia isn’t necessarily event-driven. Some people can have strong personalities and require a certain degree of control and power over their life circumstances. Over time, this too can get reinforced to the extent where a person develops a strong, irrational aversion towards being helped or ending up in a situation where they are dependent on others – such as when recovering from an injury or illness.
Associated Mental Conditions
Someone suffering from other mental conditions is also at the risk of Soteriophobia unless treated properly. It can be the autism spectrum, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder that was left untreated that led to Soteriophobia.
Soteriophobia is common among children aged 13-18 years. Since they are at their peak teen years and are trying to get a grip over their lives, anything that curbs their freedom can seem terrifying. Old people who were once independent and lived strong, individual lives are at the risk of Soteriophobia too. This is because as they age they are forced to take the help of others and be dependent. It may result in the pushing away of children and partners, when they try to provide physical or emotional assistance as you face the challenges of old age.
What are the Symptoms of Soteriophobia?
If you feel worried at the thought of taking others’ guidance and help it may be a sign of Soteriophobia.
Other behavioral signs that will help you conduct a Soteriophobia test are:
● You try to do everything by yourself.
● You refrain from meeting people altogether.
● You don’t ask for help when you need it.
● You feel threatened at the thought of being dependent.
● You avoid situations where you might need to ask for others’ help.
Other than extreme anxiety, the following are some physical and psychological Soteriophobia symptoms.
● Increased heart rate
● Hot or cold flashes
● Tingling or numbness
● Butterflies in the stomach
● Excessive sweating
● Full-blown panic attack
● Inability to handle anxiety
● Difficulty concentrating
● Anger or mood swings
● Guilt or sadness
The extremity of these symptoms depends on the individual, the intensity of their fear, how they perceive the situations, and their trauma. One has to have at least 6 months of anxiety to be diagnosed with Soteriophobia.
How to Treat Soteriophobia?
There is no one specific Soteriophobia treatment that guarantees to cure Soteriophobia. Nevertheless, you can take various initiatives on a personal level to improve the symptoms or you can seek professional help. There are different forms of treatments that can significantly show a difference in your Soteriophobia symptoms.
Self-Help Guide to Soteriophobia
People with Soteriophobia want to practice free will and when that is threatened they feel extreme anxiety. So take your own help to eliminate anxiety if your phobia is mild. There are various techniques that with consistency reduces stress significantly.
Do Strenuous Exercises
Anxiety disorders like Soteriophobia benefit from exercise. Cardio relieves stress by releasing ‘happy hormones’ such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain, easing the pain related to anxiety. Aerobic exercises and other strenuous exercises put your body under stress and you cope with it. Your body then adapts to cope with stressful situations.
Practice Yogic Poses
Yoga poses put you in a meditative state of mind with consistent practice. With yoga, you learn to redirect your energy to something more positive.
Large amounts of coffee throughout the day can make you more anxious than you generally would be. Caffeine adds to the already worse anxiety and is best done without when you have Soteriophobia. Being aware of your daily consumption of caffeine can reduce some symptoms of Soteriophobia.
Meditation, no doubt, works best when you master it. Anxiety disorders like Soteriophobia that put your mind in a constant state of mental anguish can benefit from meditation. It allows you to cope with stress by teaching your body to not get worked up and focus on something like breathing. It activates all 5 senses and leaves little space for anxiety.
Professional Help for Soteriophobia
Soteriophobia can start affecting one’s social and professional life, treatment then becomes imperative. Seeking professional guidance can help you understand your fear more deeply and get you to the root of it. If you believe that you have Soteriophobia and are enduring its symptoms, it’s best if you consult your doctor to get properly diagnosed and treated.
Some of the most widely used professional techniques to treat a phobia are:
● Talking therapy
● Exposure therapy
● Cognitive-Behavioral therapy
● Dialectical Behavior therapy
● Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
● Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
How to Cope with Soteriophobia?
By now, you should know that Soteriophobia can impair one’s daily life. So how do you vanquish it? Explore your fear, acknowledge it and start your path to recovery now. Your recovery starts the day you acknowledge your fear and take little steps to try to beat it. It may seem hard at first but with consistent efforts, you can beat it.
You can try to make the following changes in your routine to make recovery easier,
● Stop rationalizing your fear
● Try and find the gap in your thoughts
● Allow yourself to be, don’t push changes too hard
● Stop resorting to avoidance behaviors
● Give yourself time and space
● List down positive things about people
● Try and know yourself. Know what will make you calm in stressful times.
Being dependent on others and taking their help without being afraid of them exploiting you can seem far away, but it is not. You decide when you want to fight it, it is a fear borne in your mind and only your mind can kill it. Living in harmony with others and being dependent when needed, in good faith, will come easily once you decide to have it that way.