Allodoxaphobia (Fear of Opinions)
Allodoxaphobia is the irrational fear of opinions. Someone suffering from this disorder may find it extremely difficult to cope with day to day life, whether due to actually being judged by others or merely due to their own paranoia. In some extreme cases, they may even experience full blown panic attacks that will require hospitalization.
Their intense fear of other people making opinions of them or just opinions in general may be deeply rooted in their own insecurities as they may be extremely critical of themselves. So, essentially, they may fear that the opinions of other people are the same critical opinions that they have of themselves.
In order to reduce the amount of anxiety that they’ll experience in any given day from their allodoxaphobia, they may try to avoid people altogether. Though avoiding people may help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with their allodoxaphobia, it may only worsen their anxiety in the long run. This has to do with them reassuring to themselves that opinions themselves are something worthy of being feared.
Besides avoiding people who may judge them, they may also try to abstain from having opinions themselves. They may feel as though if they have opinions on things, especially strong opinions about sensitive subjects, that this may open the door for other people to judge them based on their positions. So, abstaining from having opinions or at least from vocalizing them may be a way for someone with allodoxaphobia to help “protect” themselves.
Symptoms of Allodoxaphobia
Someone suffering with allodoxaphobia can expect to experience intense anxiety due to their overwhelming concern of opinions. They may find themselves thinking about the opinions of others for much of the day. They may also be very unsure as to what their core values are. Essentially, they may be unsure of who they are as an individual, though everyone will not experience this.
As previously mentioned, someone with allodoxaphobia may choose to avoid having in-depth conversations with people to avoid hearing their opinions. In extreme cases of allodoxaphobia, they may even decide to just avoid people altogether so to also avoid the opinions that may come with idle conversation. As you can imagine, isolating oneself from others may bring forth a plethora of other mental health issues, such as loneliness or even depression.
Someone with allodoxaphobia may find that they cannot “win” as functioning in day to day life will bring with it the many opinions that people typically have, and avoiding these people may open the door to lonesomeness or even self-loathing. However, just as the case is for every other mental disorder, there is a spectrum of severity with allodoxaphobia which will likely dictate whether or not someone will take such drastic measures to help sooth their fear of opinions.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of allodoxaphobia:
Intense fear of opinions
Anxiety when thinking of opinions
May be very self critical
Unable to cope with strong emotions
May experience panic attacks
Muscle tension and shakiness
Causes of Allodoxaphobia
The exact causes of allodoxaphobia are not known. Unfortunately, this is the case with virtually all phobias. Nevertheless, there is an overwhelming consensus among mental health professionals that genetics and one’s environment are significant factors for someone developing any given mental disorder. For instance, someone with a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders may have a higher chance of developing allodoxaphobia. This may be due to them having a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness.
If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only require them to experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown allodoxaphobia. For example, someone may have developed this disorder after they were publicly humiliated, thus receiving a gargantuan influx of negative opinions from their peers. Essentially, any form of public humiliation or public shaming may be enough for them to develop allodoxaphobia insofar as they have the genetic predisposition to do so.
Though we do not know definitively why or how someone develops allodoxaphobia, genetics and environmental factors are likely to play very significant roles in this disorders development. Other factors that may be pertinent are whether or not they already have a mental illness.
For instance, someone who is already suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may have an easier pathway to developing allodoxaphobia due to them already clearly having the proper genetics to develop mental illness in the first place. In this example, it may only require them enduring some sort of traumatic event for them to develop allodoxaphobia.
Allodoxaphobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no known treatment methods that are specifically designed for allodoxaphobia. However, exposure therapy has been shown to be very beneficial for people suffering from various anxiety disorders, including phobias. Someone with allodoxaphobia can benefit from exposure therapy by having them become desensitized to opinions due to them being repetitively exposed to them. This is essentially how exposure therapy works. The therapist will work with the patient to try and slowly expose them to their fear over time.
Be that as it may, exposure therapy is not for everyone. It can be very intense and may even worsen the patient’s allodoxaphobia if performed under the supervision of an inept or inexperienced therapist. So, depending on the intensity of there disorder, they may want to start their exposure therapy off slowly to ensure that they don’t become over-stimulated.
Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also be used to help reduce some of the symptoms of allodoxaphobia. Though doing so may help to relieve the intensity of anxiety experienced, it may not be a good idea to merely treat your fear of opinions with medication as you will likely need to learn the necessary skills to be able to cope with strong emotions, as well as strong opinions. However, this is something that you should discuss with your doctor.
If you think you may have allodoxaphobia or if you are experiencing some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated.
Exercise for Allodoxaphobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including allodoxaphobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of allodoxaphobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of allodoxaphobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with allodoxaphobia over time.
Practicing Yoga for Allodoxaphobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from allodoxaphobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with allodoxaphobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with allodoxaphobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with allodoxaphobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of allodoxaphobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Allodoxaphobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with allodoxaphobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with allodoxaphobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Allodoxaphobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like allodoxaphobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with allodoxaphobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with allodoxaphobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with allodoxaphobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your allodoxaphobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Allodoxaphobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe allodoxaphobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their allodoxaphobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as allodoxaphobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of allodoxaphobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of allodoxaphobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Allodoxaphobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with allodoxaphobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with allodoxaphobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with allodoxaphobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with allodoxaphobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Allodoxaphobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from allodoxaphobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with allodoxaphobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of allodoxaphobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Practicing Meditation for Allodoxaphobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from allodoxaphobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from allodoxaphobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with allodoxaphobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of allodoxaphobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with allodoxaphobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Allodoxaphobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as allodoxaphobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with allodoxaphobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with allodoxaphobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their allodoxaphobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with allodoxaphobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.