Chronophobia (Fear of Time)


Chronophobia is the irrational fear of time. Someone experiencing this phobia may find that they will endure immense bouts of anxiety at the mere thought of time. In fact, in some cases they may even experience full blown panic attacks as a result of their chronophobia. Though they may realize that their intense fear of time is irrational, they will often be unable to convince themselves of this in the midst of a panic attack.

Their fear of time may be so intrusive that they may go to painstaking efforts to avoid seeing what the time is at any given moment. They may ensure that there are no visible clocks in their home so that they can ensure that they will not see the time there. They may also refuse to wear watches or even refuse to go to certain places of business where clocks are clearly visible.

Someone suffering from chronophobia may also find it extremely difficult to virtually impossible to attend sporting events as they often have very large clocks counting down the time left in the game.

Also, depending on their genetic makeup, it may be plausible for them to also develop an additional mental disorder such as a related phobia or other anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), for example. Though this is very possible to occur, this will likely depend on many different factors such as genetics and one’s environment, among other things.

Symptoms of Chronophobia

As is the case with virtually all other phobias, someone suffering with chronophobia can expect to experience very intense bouts of anxiety when around clocks or when thinking of time. It may not necessarily be the visual portrayal of a clock that gives them painstaking anxiety either. Instead, it may be the mere concept of time itself that fills them with dread. For instance, they may realize that they are indeed mortal beings and will one day die. They may see time as unforgiving arbiter who will carry out such an undesired ending.

It may also be even more complicated than this. Someone with chronophobia may be immensely terrified at there mere concept of time. For example, they may believe that time is merely an illusion (B-theory of time), which may give them intense anxiety due to their inability to understand and control the world around them. This can be frightening for anyone to ponder, let alone someone who suffers from mental illness.

People suffering with chronophobia may try to avoid clocks, watches, or other things that remind them of their fear of time. Though they will likely experience much less anxiety when avoiding their fear of time, doing so may only worsen their chronophobia in the long run. This has to do with them subconsciously reassuring to themselves that time is something worthy of being feared. So, “avoiding time” may not be the best course of action for them if they truly desire to improve their condition.

Causes of Chronophobia

There are no known causes of chronophobia. However, someone’s genetics and environment may be very significant factors. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders may have a higher chance of developing chronophobia. And as a result, they may have a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness. So, if someone where to have such a genetic predisposition to develop mental disorders, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown chronophobia.

Some sort of traumatic event that had to do with time in some capacity may be enough for someone to develop an intense, irrational fear toward it. For instance, they may have developed chronophobia due to them watching a very detailed and thought provoking documentary on the existence of time which evoked the fear in them to worry excessively about it. However, for someone to react to such information irrationally may be intimation that they are wired to be more anxious than most people.

Be that as it may, we are currently unsure as to the exact causes for someone developing chronophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment are still likely to be some of the most plausible factors for this disorder developing. It is also possible for someone to develop chronophobia due to them already suffering from mental disorder beforehand. For example, someone may develop chronophobia because they already were suffering with full blown OCD and they just so happen to begin obsessing about the existence of time.

Treatments

Just as there is no known cause of chronophobia, there is also no treatment that is specifically designed for this disorder either. Nevertheless, exposure therapy may be one of the most beneficial forms of treatment for those suffering from phobias, including chronophobia. Just as the name implies, the therapist will slowly expose the patient to time in an attempt to desensitize them from their irrational fear.

It is very important for the therapist to not only be adept at treating phobias, but to also have experience as the patient will likely endure extremely high amounts of dread during their exposure to time. If the patient is exposed to their fear too rapidly or too intensely, then it could cause their fear of time to deeply worsen as they may then begin to feel hopeless and desperate.

Anti-anxiety medication may also be advantageous for someone suffering with chronophobia. However, merely taking medication alone may not be enough to truly improve the conditions of chronophobia in the long run. This has to do with the fact that the patient will likely need to learn how to change their thinking patterns and how to cope with intense anxiety and stress. These things cannot be learned by simply taking medication.

Exposure Therapy for Chronophobia

As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as chronophobia. 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their chronophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with chronophobia 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.

Working Out for Chronophobia

Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including chronophobia. 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia, 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 chronophobia over time.

Yoga Sessions for Chronophobia

There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from chronophobia. 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia.

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 chronophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Chronophobia

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 chronophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with chronophobia 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 chronophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.

Psychiatric Medications for Chronophobia

Anti-anxiety meds

These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe chronophobia 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 chronophobia 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.

Antidepressants

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 chronophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of chronophobia.

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 chronophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Chronophobia

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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with chronophobia 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 chronophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Chronophobia

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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia. 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 chronophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.

Meditation Practice for Chronophobia

There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from chronophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia, 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 chronophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.

Control Caffeine Consumption for Chronophobia

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 chronophobia 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 chronophobia.

If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.

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