Ergophobia is the irrational fear of work. Someone experiencing this condition may find themselves enduring a great amount of anxiety at the mere thought of working. Though they may realize that their ergophobia is indeed irrational, when in the midst of agonizing anxiety, they are likely to be unable to realize such a fact. This, along with their inability to cope with very strong emotions may be a large reason as to why they suffer to the extent they do.

Someone with ergophobia may be unable to perform any sort of work or put forth any amount of significant effort toward anything worthwhile due to their intense fear of it. Just like all other mental disorders, ergophobia will also have a spectrum of severity where the symptoms that someone will experience will be more or less severe than the next person.

So, someone with severe ergophobia may experience excruciating anxiety which may require them to be hospitalized insofar as they were to endure an intense enough panic attack, while another person suffering from the same anxiety disorder may endure much less anxiety (e.g. slightly increased heart rate, sweating, shakiness, etc.).

As you can imagine, someone suffering with ergophobia may not only endure the day to day stresses of having to work, but they may also deal with the stresses of poverty insofar as they refuse to hold a regular job due to their intense fear of work. This opens the door to various other stresses that may only worsen their condition in the long run.



Symptoms of Ergophobia

As is the case with virtually all other phobias, anxiety will be the most profound and debilitating symptoms experienced. As previously mentioned, someone suffering from ergophobia may endure anxiety that is so intrusive and overwhelming that they may even experience full blown panic attacks that will require them to be hospitalized. Though this is not the norm, it is still very plausible for this to occur.

Someone with ergophobia may find that they are unwilling to hold a regular job, thus making it extremely difficult for them to make ends meet. So, someone suffering with this disorder may then be forced to rely on other people for basic needs and services. This may not only inconvenience them in their day to day life, but it may also plummet their self-esteem and confidence as well. Such an occurrence has the potential to then lead to experiencing symptoms of depression.

Even though someone with ergophobia may in fact develop full blown depression as a result of them feeling inadequate, such an occurrence will greatly depend on their genetic makeup as they may not have the proper genetic predisposition to even develop such a mood disorder.

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of ergophobia:

  • Intense anxiety when working
  • Anxiety when thinking of work
  • Unwilling to hold a regular job
  • Unable to cope with strong emotions
  • May become very dependent
  • May experience panic attacks

Causes of Ergophobia

The exact cause of ergophobia is not known. However, someone’s genetic makeup, as well as their environment are both very significant factors which may shed some light as to why someone may develop this disorder. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing this disorder. This may be due to them also having a higher chance of having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness.

If someone were to have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown ergophobia. Such a traumatic event may be that they heavily worked as a child and were even abused as a result of it.

There are many possible reasons as to why someone may develop this condition. This is especially true when we realize that what one person deems to be traumatizing, someone else may deem it to be merely an annoyance. So, there is a great deal of subjectivity with regards to what type of event may cause someone to develop ergophobia.

Though we do not know the exact causes of any given mental disorder, there is an overwhelming consensus among many mental health professionals that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles.



Ergophobia Treatments (abridged)

There is no treatment specifically designed for ergophobia. However, exposure therapy may be able to help. This form of therapy is one of the most common and most effective forms of treatment for those suffering from most phobias. Just as the name implies, exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over time. The goal here is to desensitize the patient from their fear by repetitively exposing them to their fear.

It is very important that you make sure your therapist is very adept and has a lot of experience with treating phobias. This is vitally important due to the fact that if the therapist exposes the patient to too much before they are ready to handle it, then it may have an opposite effect on them and only worsen their ergophobia.

A therapist using exposure therapy to treat ergophobia may do so by having the patient perform some sort of work during the therapy session. This may not necessarily be physical labor as it can also include mental effort as well. Essentially, what the patient will be exposed to will largely depend on the specific subject matter of their fears.

Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also be very advantageous for someone suffering from ergophobia. Taking such medication may be able to help reduce the intensity of some of the symptoms associated with it. However, merely taking medication alone may not be enough to truly improve someone’s ergophobia in the long run. However, this is something that you will need to discuss with your doctor first.

If you think you may have ergophobia or if you are suffering with 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.




Treatments (expanded)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Ergophobia

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

Yoga for Ergophobia

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

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

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Ergophobia

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 ergophobia 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 ergophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with ergophobia 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 ergophobia 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 Ergophobia

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

Exposure Therapy for Ergophobia

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

Reducing Caffeine for Ergophobia

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 ergophobia 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 ergophobia.




Psychiatric Drugs for Ergophobia

Antidepressant Drugs

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

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

Anti-anxiety Drugs

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

Exercise for Ergophobia

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

Meditation for Ergophobia

There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from ergophobia. 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 ergophobia 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 ergophobia 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 ergophobia, 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 ergophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.