Dementophobia (Fear of Insanity)
Dementophobia is the fear of insanity. Someone experiencing this condition may find that they have very intense anxiety at the mere thought of insanity. They may be very fearful of themselves becoming insane or of other people who are insane. The term insanity is defined as being severely mentally ill. So, there is an obvious modicum of irony with those suffering from severe dementophobia.
The amount of fear that someone with dementophobia will likely experience is very much out of touch with reality and out of proportion to the actual threat that insanity may pose to them. It is their inability to think coherently and rationally about their fear of insanity that may be a root cause of their very intrusive mental anguish.
It is likely a combination of an inability to think rationally about their fear, as well as being inept with coping with very strong emotions that causes their immense distress. In fact, depending on several factors, someone suffering with dementophobia may even experience full blown panic attacks that may require them to be hospitalized. Though this may not be the norm, it is definitely possible to occur insofar that they have the proper genetic makeup.
Someone with dementophobia may be overly concerned with the way they react to other people as they may be hyper-aware of their emotional health. They may also be quite fearful of the judgments made by other people as they may not be secure enough to handle it.
Symptoms of Dementophobia
There are many different symptoms that are associated with dementophobia. Nevertheless, anxiety will be one of the most profound. As previously mentioned, someone with dementophobia may experience anxiety that is so intrusive that they may endure panic attacks, which may worsen their dementophobia over time.
Besides being overly anxious, they may be very judgmental of others and hyper-aware of other people’s facial expressions and mannerisms as well. Someone with dementophobia may subconsciously do this based on their fear of insanity. They may be irrationally concerned with coming into contact with someone who is insane. Such a fear may also make them less trusting of people in general. However, this may not be the norm.
Someone suffering from dementophobia may be so concerned and fearful of insanity that they may become obsessed. Such an obsession may have the potential for them to develop full blown obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) insofar as they have the genetics to do so.
It is also not implausible to conceive that they may also develop other phobias as a result of their dementophobia or even generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but this will vary from person to person. All in all, there is no question that the main symptom experienced with dementophobia will be that of intense, intrusive anxiety.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of dementophobia:
Intense anxiety at the mere thought of becoming insane
Intense anxiety when being near someone who is severely mentally ill
Unable to cope with strong emotions
May experience full blown panic attacks
Causes of Dementophobia
There is no known cause of dementophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. Someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing dementophobia do to their increased risk of having a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness. If such a genetic predisposition were to exist in someone, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown dementophobia.
An experience that someone may endure which could potentially lead them to develop an irrational fear of becoming insane or of insane people may be that they have had firsthand experience with someone who was severely mentally ill. This may encompass a family member whom they lived with or perhaps a romantic relationship they were involved in. Regardless of such details, depending on what they experienced with the severely mentally ill individual, those experiences may have permanently affected them.
Though we do not know the exact causes of dementophobia, the best we can do at this point and time is to look closely at someone’s family history, as well as their current or past environmental experiences. Analyzing these two things closely may shed some light as to why someone may develop dementophobia while another person may not.
Dementophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no treatment that is specifically designed for dementophobia. However, exposure therapy may be one of the most common and most beneficial forms of treatment for those suffering from anxiety disorders. Just as the name implies, the therapist would slowly expose the patient to that which they fear in an attempt to slowly desensitize them from their fear. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to their fear, the less it will bother them over time.
So, in context to dementophobia, the therapist may expose the patient to their fear of insanity by showing them pictures of mentally ill people in psych wards or videos of severely mentally ill people being interviewed. Though this may give the patient very high amounts of anxiety in the short term, the amount of intense anxiety that they will experience in the long run will likely subside when looking at the exact same images over time.
It is very important for someone with dementophobia to ensure that their therapist is very experienced with treating phobias due to the fact that if the patient is exposed to too much at one time, it may worsen their condition as opposed to improving it. So, the patient should be cognizant of this when deciding which therapist would be best for them to work with.
If you think you may have dementophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms outlined in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor, she may refer you to see a specialist such as a therapist or a psychiatrist. It may also be beneficial to have questions ready for her to ensure that the majority of your concerns are resolved.
Psychiatric Medications for Dementophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe dementophobia 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of dementophobia.
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 dementophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Dementophobia
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 dementophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with dementophobia 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 dementophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Dementophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from dementophobia. 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia, 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 dementophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Dementophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as dementophobia. 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their dementophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with dementophobia 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.
Yoga for Dementophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from dementophobia. 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia.
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 dementophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Dementophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including dementophobia. 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia, 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 dementophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Dementophobia
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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Dementophobia
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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia. 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 dementophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Dementophobia
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 dementophobia 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 dementophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with dementophobia 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 dementophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.