Prosophobia (Fear of Progress)

Prosophobia is the irrational fear of progress. Someone suffering from this condition may find it extremely anxiety provoking at the mere thought of experiencing any sort of progress in their life. Such a conviction is very irrational and is out of touch with reality. Prosophobia is much less like the common phobias cynophobia (fear of dogs) and selachophobia (fear of sharks) and is a much more illogical phobia like eleutherophobia (fear of freedom) for example.

Most people desire progress, whether that means progressing in their career, progressing in a relationship, or merely progressing as a human being. However, there are some people who see progress as a gateway to more intrusive anxiety and more complex problems. Their inability to think coherently about this issue is a very large cause as to why they suffer to the extend that they do.

Someone experiencing prosophobia may purposely sabotage any chances they may have at actually progressing in a given field. They may consciously put forth mediocre efforts to ensure that they keep the status quo of their life at base level. By doing so, they may never reach the zenith of their true potential.

Though someone with prosophobia may experience less immediate anxiety when choosing to consciously put forth less effort in things to minimize progress, they may simultaneously suffer from a low self-esteem and low confidence as a result of their stagnancy. Though this may seem like a contradiction, it is important to realize that people who suffer from prosophobia typically don’t want to progress due to the anxiety they believe will be associated with it, not because they really don’t want to better themselves.

Symptoms of Prosophobia

As is the case with virtually all phobias, anxiety will be among one of the most profound symptoms experienced in someone suffering with prosophobia. In fact, their anxiety may be so intrusive and intense that they may even experience a full blown panic attack that may require them to be hospitalized. Though this may not be the norm, it is still very plausible for this to occur.

As previously mentioned, someone with prosophobia may also suffer from a low self-esteem in addition to their anxiety. They may feel inadequate due to the maintained mediocrity in their lives. They may actually desire to progress in life, but may be unwilling to take the necessary steps to do so as they are also extremely fearful of what unknown anxieties may manifest as a result of their progress.

Depending on the individual’s genetic makeup, among other factors, they may even develop depressive symptoms as a result of their prosophobia as they may feel deeply unfulfilled in their lives due to their deep fear of progress.

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

  • Intense anxiety when showing progress
  • Anxiety at the thought of progressing
  • May purposely put forth mediocre efforts
  • Unable to cope with very strong emotions
  • May suffer from full blown panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate and shakiness
  • Increased rate of breathing and sweating

Causes of Prosophobia

There is no known cause of prosophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles in its development. For instance, someone with a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing prosophobia due to their increased chance of having a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness. If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown prosophobia.

A traumatic experience that could lead to someone developing prosophobia may be that they were brought up in an environment where they were continuously told that they were “not good enough” or that they would “never amount to anything”. Such statements may greatly impact the mind of an adolescent, especially if that adolescent already has a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness.

Though we can definitely look at many of the potential factors that may lead someone to develop prosophobia, the exact causes of having an irrational fear of progress is not entirely understood. This is the case with virtually all other phobias as well. However, certain phobias such as the fear of the dark or the fear of loud noises may actually be a result of an evolutionary adaptation.

Be that as it may, it seems pretty clear though that prosophobia is not the result of an evolutionary adaptation as progression and innovation has helped our species to thrive. So, it would not make sense for us to evolve with a fear of progress. This leads us to think that it may be that genetics and one’s environment are the most pertinent factors that we can look to.

Prosophobia Treatments

There is no treatment that is specifically designed for prosophobia. However, exposure therapy may be very beneficial. Exposure therapy is one of the most common and effective forms of therapy to treat phobias. However, it may not be for everyone as this methodology typically brings with it very high amounts of anxiety. So, it is imperative that it is practiced by an experienced therapist to ensure the best results.

Just as the name implies, exposure therapy works by having the therapist expose the patient to that which they fear over a specified period of time. Theoretically, the more they are exposed to their fear, the less it will bother them over time. So, someone suffering from prosophobia my have their therapist “expose them to progress” by having them put effort in certain activities.

Though such activities may give the patient with prosophobia heightened amounts of anxiety, the goal would be for them to eventually feel less and less anxiety the more they were exposed to progress. It is very important that the patient does not become exposed to too much progress too early as their anxiety may be so intense that it may cause their exposure therapy to have an opposite effect on them.

Exposure Therapy for Prosophobia

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

Working Out for Prosophobia

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

Yoga Sessions for Prosophobia

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

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

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Prosophobia

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

Psychiatric Medications for Prosophobia

Anti-anxiety meds

These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe prosophobia 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 prosophobia 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 prosophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of prosophobia.

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

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Prosophobia

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 prosophobia 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 prosophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with prosophobia 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 prosophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Prosophobia

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

Meditation Practice for Prosophobia

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

Control Caffeine Consumption for Prosophobia

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 prosophobia 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 prosophobia.

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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