Diabetophobia (Fear of Diabetes)
Diabetophobia is the irrational fear of diabetes. Someone suffering with this condition may find the mere thought of them developing diabetes to be extremely anxiety provoking. They will likely find it very difficult to cope with their intense fear and may even experience full blown panic attacks insofar as their symptoms are intense enough. If this were to occur then they can expect to experience an increased heart rate, increased rate of breathing, as well as muscle tension and sweating, among other things.
According to Diabetes.org, In 2015, approximately 30.3 million Americans suffered from diabetes. Statistics such as this may make coping with diabetophobia to be even that much more difficult. Many other phobias do not have objective statistics such as this which can inflate their fear, such as the case with acerophobia (fear of sourness), theatrophobia (fear of theaters), and anatidaephobia (fear of being constantly watched by a duck), among other phobias. Someone with this condition will likely not already be suffering from diabetes as it is the fear of developing it that is most concerning to them.
Someone suffering with diabetophobia may take things to the extreme by putting their body in a state of ketosis by eating little to no carbohydrates in any given day to “help” limit their chances of developing diabetes. Taking actions such as this will likely worsen their fear of diabetes in the long run as opposed to improving it, as well as potentially causing other physiological issues.
Someone who has a family history of diabetes may have an intensified fear of developing diabetes due to their increased risk of developing it. In such a situation, it is not implausible for them to take things to the extreme such as exercising excessively and/or taking their diet to extremes. Though exercise and healthy eating habits are innately virtuous, taking these two things to the extreme can be very counterproductive and can even worsen someone’s diabetophobia depending on the extent to which they are willing to go with it.
Symptoms of Diabetophobia
Anxiety will be the main symptom experienced with this condition. Their anxiety may be so intrusive and extreme that they may even experience full blown panic attacks insofar as they have the genetics to do so. They may also take extreme precautions as it relates to their dietary habits too. For example, because eating excessive amounts of sugar over a long period of time may cause someone to develop diabetes, someone with diabetophobia may drastically restrict themselves to certain foods only.
Avoidance is a very common symptom for people suffering from anxiety disorders and phobias, the same can be said for someone who has an irrational fear of diabetophobia. For example, they may avoid people who they know have diabetes as they may give them a lot of anxiety by reminding them of diabetes.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of diabetophobia:
Intense anxiety when thinking of diabetes
Constant fear that they may develop diabetes
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Diabetophobia
There is no known cause of diabetophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles. For example, if someone has a family history of mental illness, especially of phobias, then they may have a higher chance of developing this condition. This may be due to them also having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness in general.
If this were to be the case, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown diabetophobia. Such an event may be them getting news from their doctor that they are pre-diabetic or perhaps they have seen someone in their family suffer greatly from diabetes. Regardless of what the traumatic event is, as long as it is superfluously extreme to the point to where it significantly damages their psyche and includes diabetes in some capacity, then they may develop diabetophobia because of it.
Though we do not definitively know what causes this disorder to develop, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing diabetophobia.
Diabetophobia Treatments (abridged)
Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for people suffering from most phobias as it can help them to become desensitized to their fear. However, unlike many other phobias, exposure therapy may not be the most effective form of treatment for someone suffering with diabetophobia. This is due to the obvious fact that it would not be ethical to literally expose someone to diabetes. Nevertheless, exposing them to facts about the condition may be effective.
Besides exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be very effective at treating diabetophobia as it can help the patient to learn new and effective ways of coping with their irrational fear of diabetes. Such skills can render themselves crucially necessary at the onset of a panic attack. Besides this, the patient can also expect to learn how to think about diabetes in a more productive way.
Anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants may be advantageous for someone suffering with diabetophobia also. However, merely taking medication without any form of therapy may not be very effective for long term treatment as the patient would not have learned the many skills necessary for improving their symptoms of diabetophobia. This is very important if they wanted to one day stop taking medication. Nevertheless, this is something that should first be discussed by you and your doctor to ensure that it is safe and effective to do so.
If you think you may have diabetophobia or if you are suffering from 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. Upon seeing your doctor, you may be referred to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Diabetophobia
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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia 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 Diabetophobia
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 diabetophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Diabetophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from diabetophobia. 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia, 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 diabetophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Diabetophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as diabetophobia. 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their diabetophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with diabetophobia 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.
Exercise for Diabetophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including diabetophobia. 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia, 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 diabetophobia over time.
Yoga for Diabetophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from diabetophobia. 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia.
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 diabetophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Diabetophobia
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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Diabetophobia
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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia. 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 diabetophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Diabetophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia 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 diabetophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of diabetophobia.
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 diabetophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.