Erythrophobia (Fear of Blushing)
Erythrophobia is the irrational fear of blushing. Someone experiencing this mental disorder may find themselves being in constant worry of being put in a situation where they may become anxious and begin to blush. Being put in such a situation may cause other symptoms to be experienced as well, such as shame and self-pity. In fact, it may not be uncommon for someone experiencing erythrophobia to also show symptoms of ophthalmophobia (fear of being stared at).
Just as the fear of being stared at and the fear of public speaking are both quite common phobias, erythrophobia is not far behind these other phobias as they are all somewhat interrelated. Someone suffering from this condition may purposely isolate themselves from others or from very social situations in an attempt to reduce the chance that they may possibly blush. Such isolation may even lead to depression depending on their genetic makeup, among other factors.
The amount of fear that someone with erythrophobia will experience will often be out of touch with reality and will typically be subconsciously dramatized. Their inability to think rationally about their fear of blushing, as well as their ineptness with coping with very strong emotions such as dread and embarrassment is a significant cause to much of the suffering and mental anguish they will inevitably experience.
Depending on the severity of their symptoms, they may even experience a full blown panic attack as a result of their erythrophobia. This may happen when they are blushing or even when they are merely being fearful that they may blush.
Symptoms of Erythrophobia
The main symptoms that someone with erythrophobia can expect to experience is intense anxiety and worry that they may be negatively judged if someone sees them blushing. They may feel as though that if they are seen blushing, then that will come across as appearing “weak” or “inadequate”. Such convictions may greatly impact their self-esteem. They may even become increasingly self-critical and even self-loathing due to their inability to manage their intense emotions.
Depending on several factors, such as their genetics, they may fall down the rabbit hole of developing additional mental disorders due to their untamed anxiety, especially if their symptoms are being left untreated. Such disorders that have the potential to manifest as a result of enduring erythrophobia are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and many other phobias associated with the fear of being judged in some capacity.
Though this is definitely plausible to happen, such an occurrence will vary from person to person. Most people suffering with erythrophobia will likely experience intense anxiety when they blush or when they feel like they are about to blush. Their anxiety may be so intense that they may panic and leave whatever situation they’re in as soon as they feel anxious.
Below, you will see some common symptoms of erythrophobia:
Intense anxiety when blushing or when thinking of blushing
Fearful of being judged by others
Unable to cope with strong emotions like fear and shame
Self-critical and self-loathing
May isolate themselves or avoid potential “trigger” situations
Causes of Erythrophobia
The exact cause of erythrophobia is not entirely known. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing erythrophobia. This may largely be due to the increased risk of having a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness. If such a genetic predisposition were to exist in someone, it may then only require that they experience some sort of traumatizing event for them to develop full blown erythrophobia.
Such a traumatic event that would be impactful enough for them to develop an irrational fear of blushing may be that they were once in an extremely embarrassing situation that left them feeling extremely ashamed of themselves. Perhaps they gave a speech or was asked an embarrassing question which left them blushing severely. Such a situation may be extremely traumatic for some people and if they have the right genetics, it may also be enough for them to develop erythrophobia.
The irrational fear of blushing may also be the result of evolution as it is plausible to think that it would have been in our distant ancestor’s best interest to not show any physical signs of ineptness around others. Appearing to be anxious or nervous by trembling or blushing may be perceived as being “weak” or “vulnerable”. Back when times were much less civilized then they are today, such vulnerability could potentially open the door to being taken advantage of or being harmed.
Erythrophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no treatment specifically designed for erythrophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be very beneficial for someone suffering with an irrational fear of blushing. Talk therapy may be quite advantageous for them as it can be a way to help them become much more cognizant of the many faults in their thinking patterns, as well as learning new and effective ways to cope when their anxiety is exacerbated.
Exposure therapy is another very effective form of treatment for people suffering from phobias. With regards to erythrophobia, the therapist may ask the client to go to certain places or to put themselves in certain anxiety provoking situations where they may potentially blush. The goal would be for the patient to eventually become desensitized from their fear of blushing by repetitively putting themselves in anxiety provoking situations. Theoretically, the more they are exposed to their fear, the less fearful they will become.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be very helpful for someone suffering with erythrophobia depending on how severe their symptoms of anxiety are, especially if they also suffer from an additional anxiety disorder. However, you should first talk to your doctor before you decide to take any medication to ensure its safety and effectiveness.
If you think you may have erythrophobia, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Depending on your symptoms, she may refer you to see a specialist such as a therapist or a psychiatrist.
Psychiatric Medications for Erythrophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of erythrophobia.
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 erythrophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Erythrophobia
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 erythrophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Erythrophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from erythrophobia. 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia, 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 erythrophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Erythrophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as erythrophobia. 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their erythrophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with erythrophobia 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 Erythrophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from erythrophobia. 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia.
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 erythrophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Erythrophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including erythrophobia. 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia, 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 erythrophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Erythrophobia
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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Erythrophobia
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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia. 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 erythrophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Erythrophobia
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 erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with erythrophobia 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 erythrophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.