As the name suggests, nosophobia is a phobia, which corresponds to an irrational fear of contracting a serious illness resulting in death. The treatment of this disorder is based on well-conducted psychotherapy.
What is nosophobia?
The term nosophobia comes from the Greek “nosos” for disease and “phobos” for phobia. It refers to the fear of falling ill, and more particularly of being contaminated by a bacterium or any pathogen transmitted by others. Most often nosophobia is focused on a particular disease.
Causes of nosophobia
The origin of this disorder is not certain. It would be linked to the relationship that an individual has with their body and those around them. When this deteriorates, the disorder would manifest itself. Other studies suggest that nosophobia may develop following trauma such as the loss of a loved one due to serious illness.
Be careful not to confuse nosophobia with hypochondria. The nosophobic person is not sick, and he knows it, but he is obsessed with the desire to maintain good health. Hypochondria is when a person has one or more symptoms. Therefore, the hypochondriac imagines the worst.
Nosophobia mainly concerns serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular or infectious pathologies (malaria, AIDS, etc.). Nosophobics mainly fear the diseases that can cause their death.
Nosophobia can also be a symptom, that is to say, add to a disorder or pathology already present. Thus, it is often diagnosed in cases of serious personality disorders, obsessive disorders, or social phobias.
Nosophobia results in a very important fear which leads the patient to adopt all the measures likely to prevent the disease or diseases he fears. The fear, however, turns into an obsession as it invades the patient’s thoughts and impacts his activities.
Patients suffering from nosophobia will be particularly vigilant about the places they frequent. They avoid places prone to contamination, for example, public transport, hospitals, shops, public toilets, etc.
Nosophobics, therefore, take extreme care of their state of health by adopting certain hygiene measures such as the practice of physical activity, a balanced diet, etc. They also often have a large medicine cabinet in anticipation of illness.
The patient’s fear concerns the body as a whole, as well as all of its functions. It is not confined to a single organ or function.
Finally, nosophobics often have other associated fears such as the fear death or poisoning.
Treatment of nosophobia
When nosophobia leads to obsessive cleaning or disinfection behaviors, it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist.
To date, cognitive behavioral therapy appears to be the most effective in treating phobias. However, other forms of psychotherapy such as psychoanalysis or hypnosis may be possible.