Phasmophobia (Fear of Ghosts)

Phasmophobia is the irrational fear of ghosts. Those suffering from this condition may find themselves enduring extremely intense bouts of anxiety at the mere thought of ghosts. Their fear may be so intense that they may even experience full blown panic attacks that may leave them requiring hospitalization.

It may also not be uncommon for someone experiencing phasmophobia to also suffer from sanguivoriphobia (fear of vampires), sciophobia (fear of shadows), or achluphobia (fear of the dark) due to the possible relation they may all have with fearing ghosts.

Someone suffering from phasmophobia may find it very difficult to go out at night or to be alone at night as they may see such a situation as being too anxiety provoking for them to endure. This may make day to day life for someone fearing ghosts to be quite difficult and possibly even debilitating depending on the severity of their symptoms. However, this will likely vary greatly from person to person.

This may even interfere with their relationships with others as they may be paranoid or overly concerned with avoiding certain areas or places that they believe may contain ghosts. This may force them to alter their routes when driving to certain locations to “ensure that they are safe”. Someone with phasmophobia will typically believe wholeheartedly that ghosts exist and that their fears are justified. This may be a large part of why they suffer as much as they do from their phasmophobia.

Symptoms of Phasmophobia

As is the case with virtually all other phobias, anxiety will be one of the most most common symptoms experienced in someone suffering with phasmophobia. Their anxiety may be extremely intrusive and may significantly dictate important life decisions, such as where they choose to live for example. Depending on their genetic makeup, they may even develop other phobias such as the related one’s mentioned a couple paragraphs ago (e.g. sanguivoriphobia, sciophobia, achluphobia, etc.).

Someone suffering from phasmophobia may experience very intense anxiety that is out of touch with reality. Their anxiety may be so intense that they may even endure full blown panic attacks that will require them to be hospitalized. Such a circumstance may not be typical, but may indeed be plausible given the intense amount of anxiety that this disorder is known to instill in people.

It is also not implausible to think that someone suffering with phasmophobia may also develop anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This is quite plausible to conceive seeing as how someone with phasmophobia may find themselves obsessing over their fear of ghosts if left untreated. If they have the right genetics, it is very possible for them to then develop full blown OCD. However, this will clearly vary from person to person.

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of this phobia:

  • Intense anxiety at the thought of seeing a ghost
  • Unable to cope with extreme emotions
  • May suffer from panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate and muscle tension

Causes of Phasmophobia

There is no known cause of phasmophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play a very significant role. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental disorders, especially of anxiety disorders may be at risk for developing phasmophobia. This has to do with the increased chance that they may also have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness. This isn’t always the case for someone with a family history of mental illness, but it may increase the odds nonetheless.

Environmental factors are the other side of the coin that is thought to be “the other 50%” of why people develop any given mental illness. An environmental factor may include a traumatic experience of some sort. For instance, someone may have developed phasmophobia after enduring an extremely terrifying experience that left a permanent impression on them.

Other environmental factors that could play a role in someone developing phasmophobia may be that they were brought up in a very superstitious household and were taught from a very young age to fear ghosts. Also, it is not implausible to think that the many depictions of ghosts in horror films may heighten the general public’s overall fear of ghosts.

Though we do not definitively know exactly what causes someone to develop phasmophobia, we can still point to several different factors that may indeed be pertinent and relevant to this disorder. Such is the case with having the proper genetics to develop it, as well as being heavily influenced by some sort of environmental or outside source.

Phasmophobia Treatments

There are no treatments that are specifically designed for phasmophobia. However, there are forms of treatment that are commonly used to treat various phobias. One of the most common and effective forms of therapy for treating phobias is exposure therapy. Just as the name implies, exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to that which they fear. The goal is to try and desensitize the patient from their fear. Theoretically, the more they are exposed to their fear, the less it will bother them.

Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also be able to help reduce the amount of anxiety someone with phasmophobia may experience. However, taking medication alone may not be very effective as they may need to learn how to improve their cognition and learn newer, healthier habits. This will likely require that they engage in some sort of therapy such as exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a very common form of treatment for people suffering from anxiety disorders. It is a very common form of therapy for people with GAD and/or OCD in particular. CBT may be advantageous for people with phasmophobia also as it can help them to improve the many faults in their thinking patterns.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Phasmophobia

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

Yoga for Phasmophobia

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

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

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Phasmophobia

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 phasmophobia 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 phasmophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with phasmophobia 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 phasmophobia 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 Phasmophobia

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

Exposure Therapy for Phasmophobia

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

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 phasmophobia 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 phasmophobia.

Psychiatric Drugs for Phasmophobia

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

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 phasmophobia, 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 phasmophobia 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 phasmophobia 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 Phasmophobia

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

Meditation for Phasmophobia

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

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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