What is Pantophobia?
Pantophobia is a generalized anxiety disorder or a panic disorder that describes anxiety, which is persistent and hard to control.(1) Pantophobia refers to the panic response that includes:
- Extreme worry
- Loss of color in the face
- Physical pain
- Sudden fright or terror
- Racing heartbeat
- Tension in the body
Those with pantophobia worry excessively about an event or a series of events. It is a limiting phobia as it influences and conditions the behavior of a person who suffers from it.
What Causes Pantophobia?
The exact cause of pantophobia is not known.
There are a few causes and risk factors that are known to be involved:
- Family history has a role to play in the development of this fear. There are certain genes that are passed on to a person by the parents. This makes it more likely to develop an anxiety disorder or phobia.
- Females are more at risk of developing anxiety disorder than men.(2)
- Childhood trauma or childhood abuse can also be a reason for increasing the risk of anxiety disorder or phobia.
- It is also believed by researchers that environmental and economic factors can increase the risk of anxiety disorder. But more research is needed on how it influences the development of anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of Pantophobia
Feeling anxious from time to time is the most common feeling in people with pantophobia.
There is a spike in anxiety in those who do not feel anxious, especially while going through a difficult situation like losing a job or getting ill.
The anxiety remains even after the initial trigger or stressors go away or have been addressed. This anxiety can disrupt a person’s life.
There are a few symptoms experienced by those with specific phobia, which include:
Those with an anxiety disorder may also experience the following symptoms:
- An overwhelming feeling by a sense of impending doom
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Startle easily
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in concentrating or relaxing
- Feeling tired most of the time
Sometimes those with pantophobia express fear of losing control or desire to flee from the stressful situation that they feel is causing fear.
Diagnosis of Pantophobia
Pantophobia is not listed as a disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Therefore, it cannot be officially diagnosed.
A psychologist, doctor, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant are the qualified professionals that can make such a diagnosis.
An individual with a phobia is enquired about the symptoms and triggers. The physician asks about the duration of fear and how it is affecting life. Any family history if present should be shared with the doctor. It helps in reaching a diagnosis and better understanding of the symptoms.
Treatment for Pantophobia
The treatment depends on the diagnosis of specific phobia, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or any other condition.
Medications that help relieve anxiety symptoms include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
This therapy helps in identifying and changing any unrealistic or unhealthy thought patterns that contribute to the symptoms
It is a type of psychotherapy that involves careful and gradual exposure to fear along with relaxation training.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
In EDMR therapy, a person is guided through memories of trauma along with instructions to perform particular eye movements.
Various stress-reducing practices can be incorporated into daily routine, these include:
These help in decreasing the symptom and increasing the overall sense of well-being.
Pantophobia is a widespread fear in which people experience anxiety about different situations and objects. Accurate diagnosis and treatment can help improve the quality of life and reduce the stress in the body and mind.