People are afraid of things like water, spiders, long words, and even flying. But have you heard of the fear of time?
What is chronophobia?
In Greek, Chrono is the word for time, and phobia is the word that means fear. The fear of time is called chronophobia. It is a phobia characterized by an irrational and constant fear of the concept of time and of the passing of time.
Chronophobia is a fear related to the rare chronomentrophobia, the irrational fear of timepieces, such as watches and clocks.
Chronophobia is considered a specific phobia. A specific phobia is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by a powerful, unwarranted fear of a thing that presents little or actual danger but instigates anxiety or avoidance.
Usually, the fear in a specific phobia is of a situation, an object, activity, or person.
There are five types of specific phobia:
- Animal (e.g., cats, dogs, spiders)
- Situational (bridges, cars, airplanes)
- Blood, injection, or injury (pins, needles, blood draws)
- Natural environment (storms, heights)
Symptoms of chronophobia
According to the Mayo Clinic, the likely symptoms of specific phobia are:
- Feelings of anxiety, overwhelming fear, and panic
- An awareness that your fears are exaggerated or unwarranted but having a feeling of helplessness to manage them
- Difficulty carrying out normal daily functions because of your fear
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
Symptoms of a specific phobia can be triggered when a person is presented with the phobia itself or can occur when at the thought of the phobia.
For a person who has chronophobia, usually, a specific situation that reminds them or highlights the passage of time can make their anxiety more intense. Triggers include cases such as:
- Wedding anniversary
- High school or college graduation
- Milestone birthday
However, a person who has chronophobia may deal with anxiety as almost a permanent occurrence in their lives.
Who is at risk of having chronophobia?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 12.5 percent of United States adults will experience chronophobia or any other specific phobia sometime in their lives.
Since chronophobia is linked to time, it is only logical that:
Chronophobia can be diagnosed in older people and people who are dealing with a terminal illness, worrying about the amount of time they have left to live.
People in prison may have chronophobia when they start to contemplate the length of their incarceration. Such kind of chronophobia is commonly called prison neurosis or known as stir crazy.
Chronophobia can also be experienced in situations like a natural disaster when people are dealing with a long period of anxiety with no secure means of tracking time.
Treatment for chronophobia
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has suggested that, even though each type of anxiety disorder has its own standard treatment plan, different types of treatment are mostly used.
These methods of treatment include psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and prescription drugs, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, like benzodiazepines and beta-blockers.
Some suggested alternative and complementary treatments for chronophobia include:
- Relaxation and stress relief techniques, like breathing exercises and focused attention.
- Yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and physical postures
- Aerobic exercise for anxiety and stress relief
Specific phobias can lead to other problems, such as:
- Mood disorders
- Social isolation
- Alcohol or drug misuse
Although it is not always that specific phobias call for treatment, your doctor should have some insights and recommendations to assist you.
Chronophobia is categorized as a specific phobia. It is described as an irrational and unrelenting fear of the idea of time and the passage of time.
If you have chronophobia, or you notice any other phobia interfering with your daily life, you can discuss the situation with your doctor or any healthcare provider.
There is a likelihood that your doctor will recommend a mental health specialist to assist you with a full diagnosis and to provide a course of action for treatment.
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