What is Pogonophobia?

Pogonophobia is a specific type of phobia in which a person develops fear of beards. This fear is often persistent, unexplainable, without any reason or logic. An individual with pogonophobia shows signs of nervousness, anxiety and become unstable when she or he sees people with beards or facial hair. Pogonophobia leads to a state of mental illness and thousands of people are victims of this medical illness.

The patients of pogonophobia can be treated by explaining them properly the reason for men having beards. As the illness is related to mental state, the use of anti-depressants and psychotherapy works as best treatment for pogonophobia. Counseling sessions with the mental health therapist are also helpful in treatment of pogonophobia.

What is Pogonophobia?

Causes of Pogonophobia

The causes of pogonophobia can be related to one or more of the following reasons:

  • An unpleasant encounter or a traumatic incident with a person with beard can lead to a fear of beards in the mind of the person. In such situation, the unconscious mind triggers a self-preservation mechanism, which appears as phobia for beards called as pogonophobia.
  • Facial hair is generally associated with rough and rugged personality. The 'unclean-unshaved' look leaves an impression of homeless, poor and ill person. This makes the phobic person think that the person in unhygienic and is in very poor state where he cannot shave.
  • Generally tv shows, movies and books present individuals with beard as dangerous and unfaithful, which makes a phobic person feel feared leading to pogonophobia.
  • There a few cultures where beard is a part of traditional values but there is no place for beard in modern society, especially in western countries.
  • Pogonophobia can affect both men and women of all ages but the women in particular do not generally like guys with facial hair or beards. 9 out of 10 women in a survey disliked men with long beards.
  • Most of political leaders and members of American congress can be seen in clean shave as people have natural liking for such personalities. Only Abraham Lincoln can be remembered as popular president with a beard.
  • In some cases, pogonophobia can be related to environmental and genetic factors. A person in a family or relatives with pogonophobia increases the risk of developing pogonophobia in children just by watching them go through the anxiety and suffering.
  • Health concerns and medical conditions can also lead to a state of pogonophobia. Traumatic brain injuries are followed by phobia in many cases. State of depression or abuse can also lead to pogonophobia.

Signs and Symptoms of Pogonophobia

There are many signs and symptoms of pogonophobia. Pogonophobia can severely hamper the social life of an individual and can adversely affect his/her career and health. Pogonophobia has a negative impact on life whose magnitude can vary according to the extent of pogonophobia. The signs and symptoms of pogonophobia and adverse effects include:

  • Feeling anxious and nauseated is a symptom of pogonophobia.
  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats can be a symptom of pogonophobia.
  • A full blown panic attack or anxiety attack is a major symptom of pogonophobia.
  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilating around bearded men is seen in victims of pogonophobia.
  • Sweating, trembling is also observed.

Pogonophobia can lead to financial misery by affecting the performance of an individual which hampers the career and growth. Pogonophobia makes an individual uncomfortable with the guys with beards in office and society affecting their ability to concentrate and performance. This is very harmful for their career and deprives them of growth opportunities and promotions.

Some of the Emotional signs and symptoms associated with state of pogonophobia are as follows:

  • Knowing that you are overreacting, but feeling powerless to control your fear.
  • Feeling like you are going to die or pass out.
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy.
  • Feeling of overwhelming anxiety or panic.
  • Feeling an intense need to escape the situation.

Irrespective of the type of phobia including pogonophobia, the reactions are common. Some of them are as follows:

  • An unpleasant condition of uncontrollable terror, panic or dread when you are faced with situation causing fear like guys with beards or facial hairs.
  • The anxiety and feeling of fear all the time making you fight every moment.
  • The feeling of anxiety makes you further unstable and behaves abnormally.
  • Fear can trigger unwanted physical reactions like difficulty in breathing, sweating, feeling of panic etc...
  • The feeling of helplessness, where you cannot control your fear even when you are completely aware that it is unreasonable.
  • Children can feel more fear and trauma making them cry.

When to See a Doctor for Pogonophobia?

It is never easy to live with fear in mind. Even a simple fear of travelling in lift can also cause you to go for stairs. However, it is normal and unless the fear starts to affect your life adversely, it cannot be termed as phobia. If your fears get to a level where your social life, normal routine and work starts to get affected, it is the time you must seek advice and treatment for pogonophobia from a psychological expert. The therapy can have fruitful rewards.

The doctor is likely to ask one or more of the following questions during examination for pogonophobia and thus it is better to be prepared with the answers:

  • During your pogonophobia attacks related to anxiety and fear, did you experience inability to take breathe or any issue related to heart attacks?
  • Did you think of harming yourself?
  • Did you recently suffer with pogonophobia attack, in which suddenly you get scared or felt uneasy?
  • Have you found anything that has some roles to make the pogonophobia symptoms worse or better?
  • Do you have addiction towards alcohol or any other type of drug considered as illegal? If yes, to how much extent.
  • Did you feel nervous or anxious or on edge recently because of pogonophobia?
  • When you have identified the symptoms of pogonophobia for the first time?
  • What are the other related symptoms do you possess?
  • Tell me about situations, when such symptoms likely take place.
  • Did you undergo any diagnose with any type of medical conditions in the past?
  • Did you undergo treatment for mental illness or psychiatric symptoms in your past? If yes, please mention about the therapy gives you most of the benefits.

Risk Factors for Pogonophobia

Following are the factors that increase the risk of pogonophobia:

  • Your age can be a risk factor for pogonophobia. There are increased chances of developing phobia at tender age of below thirteen. Some specific phobias like pogonophobia are seen even earlier at the age of below ten.
  • Your relatives can play a factor of risk in development of pogonophobia in you. A family member or relative having any particular phobia increases your chances of developing phobia at some stage of your life. The cause may be related to genetics reasons or it can be getting into your mind owing to observation of behavior of the phobic person.
  • Your temperament can be a factor of risk for pogonophobia. A naturally aggressive behavior, negative approach in life or extreme sensitivity to situations may also make you pogonophobia.
  • A traumatic event in your life can be a risk factor for pogonophobia. The phobia can also develop due to some unpleasant or traumatic incident in life like being attacked by animal, trapped in an elevator etc…

Complications in Pogonophobia

Pogonophobia may not seem like a big problem but it can seriously affect the whole life style of an individual. Following are some of the complications in pogonophobia:

  • Social isolation is a possible complication in pogonophobia. It can make you live isolated life and take you away from the family, friends and colleagues which can further make you feel lonely. It also disturbs your professional life.
  • Depression is a complication in pogonophobia. It is very easy to get depressed and develop feeling of anxiety.
  • Substance abuse can be a complication in pogonophobia. The phobia can lead you to drugs and make you drug addict.
  • Suicide is a possible complication in pogonophobia. In some specific cases of phobia, the individual can feel like committing suicide.

Tests to Diagnose Pogonophobia

Medical tests cannot determine the case of pogonophobia. Only the experts can identify a pogonophobia patient after a thorough interactive session with the individual which involves specific set of questions related to social, psychiatric and medical history.

American Psychiatric Association has clearly defined the criteria for person being diagnosed with any type of phobia in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Exerts, doctors and insurance companies make use of this manual to analyze the situation of phobia and recommend appropriate treatment.

Here are some of the listed criteria for specific phobias like pogonophobia:

  • An extreme anxiety or fear caused by an unpleasant situation or object like storms, flying, snakes etc…
  • An immediate feeling of anxiety when faced with the fear.
  • An unreasonable and unexplainable feeling of fear or anxiety in situation involving fear.
  • Tendency to run away from specific fear or inability to face the fear.
  • A feeling of difficulty and suffering resulting into disturbance of your social and professional life pulling you down.
  • Persistent phobia and avoidance, which can last as long as six months or even more.

Treatment for Pogonophobia

The anti-anxiety medications available for the treatment of pogonophobia are only effective in suppressing the symptoms of pogonophobia such as anxiety but cannot cure the root cause which is pogonophobia.

Physiotherapy and talk therapy are one of the best treatments for pogonophobia. One of the best ways to combat the situation of pogonophobia is to explain the patient about the beards and why it is kept. This can get the person in to normal state and can out of the particular state of mind which leads to fear of beards.

Some of the other therapies used for treatment of pogonophobia are CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), NLP therapy and Hypnotherapy. However, all these therapies must be carried out by an expert in the field.

In some cases of pogonophobia where the particular object causing pogonophobia can be avoided, there is no need for treatment. However it is not possible in case of pogonophobia and thus it is strongly recommended to seek doctor's advice and proper treatment.

Fortunately, most of the cases of the pogonophobia can be treated with success. There are many therapies available for treatment but a single therapy cannot be equally effective in all patients. Thus combination of therapies must be used for treating pogonophobia.

Some of the best therapies are as follows:

  1. Talking treatments
  2. Self-help techniques
  3. Medication.
  1. Talking Treatments for Pogonophobia

    Physchotherapy and proper counseling to the patient are the best examples of talking therapies for pogonophobia. Some other therapies in this category are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness which have been used with reasonable success rate.

    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating pogonophobia is very successful in the recent past. CBT is a part of treatment involving counseling with the aim to bring about the positive thinking and necessary changes in behavior which can be helpful in coping up and even overcome pogonophobia.

    Exposure therapy or desensitization is one of the parts of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) in which the victim of pogonophobia is gradually exposed to the respective fear to make him fearless and less anxious against fear.

    In case of pogonophobia, the exposure therapy would start with a little exposure of person with beard with the help of pictures and related books. In the next step, you would be asked to meet and spend some time with a person with beard to get you fear away. Finally, you would be asked to have a friendly relationship with that person. Computerized CBT is also available but National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and many other experts do not recommend this method for treatment of pogonophobia.

  2. Medication Treatment for Pogonophobia

    Although talking therapies and proper counseling works best in treatment of pogonophobia without any side effects, medications may be used for a short duration for treatment of anxiety which are caused due to pogonophobia. The medications which are usually recommended are as follows:

    • Beta-blockers
    • Antidepressants
    • Tranquillisers

    Antidepressant Medicines for Pogonophobia

    Antidepressants are helpful in reducing signs of anxiety in pogonophobia. Some of the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to overcome problems related to anxiety, panic disorder and social phobia. Some of them are:

    • Paroxetine (seroxat)
    • Sertraline (lustral)
    • Escitalopram (cipralex)

    Venlafaxine (Efexor) is a special type of serotonin, which works particularly well against anxiety. Noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) can also be used.

    Some of the common side effects of this treatment for pogonophobia are as follows:

    • Upset stomach
    • Nausea
    • Sleep problems
    • Headaches

    It may also increase your anxiety in initial stages and can also affect sexual life.

    Clomipramine (Anafranil) is one of the most effective and licensed medicines which works great against pogonophobia. It is a type of tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). However it can show following side effects:

    • Palpitations (irregular heartbeat)
    • Blurred vision
    • Dry mouth
    • Difficulty in urinating
    • Tremors (shaking)
    • Drowsiness
    • Constipation.

    If a person is taking antidepressant medications, it cannot be stopped suddenly as it may lead to withdrawal symptoms. The medication has to be reduced gradually.

    Tranquillizers for Pogonophobia

    There is a special group of medicines called Benzodiazepines belonging to the group of minor tranquillizers which can also be used in small dosages to get rid of anxiety in pogonophobia. Diazepam (Valium) is one of the common medicines belonging to this group.

  3. Self Help Treatment for Pogonophobia

    There is no single strategy for self-help program that works for everyone in treating pogonophobia. Thus every individual has to work out a strategy to suit himself or herself with the help of the expert or doctor. Some of the strategies of a self-help program for treating pogonophobia are as follows:

    • Using exposure therapy to overcome your fear.
    • Attending a self-help group.
    • Lifestyle changes.
    • A combination of these.

    Exposure Therapy for Pogonophobia

    This therapy involves gradually increasing the exposure of the patient towards the pogonophobia. In case of pogonophobia, the exposure therapy can be adopted by first spending a little time with the people with beard and then gradually increasing the length of time you spend with them and finally developing a strong friendship with the person. It is a very effective therapy for treatment of pogonophobia and anxiety.

    Lifestyle Changes for Pogonophobia

    Making necessary changes in lifestyle can also help in treatment and reduce the symptoms of pogonophobia like panic attacks. Some of the recommended lifestyle changes for pogonophobia are:

    • Reducing or avoiding caffeine and other stimulants.
    • Getting enough sleep.
    • Eating healthy, regular meals.
    • Exercising regularly.

    Other Self-Help Techniques for Pogonophobia

    Following are some of the techniques that can be helpful in dealing with pogonophobia:

    • Relaxation techniques help in managing pogonophobia symptoms like anxiety. It includes special types of physical exercises that enable you to relax by letting you control your breathing.
    • Relaxation techniques can be combined with a positive mental visualization towards our problems and surrounding. This can help us to deal with our anxiety and fear.
    • Self-help groups can also support groups provide an excellent platform for people facing the similar problems and situations. Here the people can understand each other in a better way and share their experiences which can help others to gather strength and cope up with the situation. There are experts who teach the people about tips and tricks to face the problems in a better way.

Alternative Treatment for Pogonophobia

Alternative treatments for pogonophobia include hypnotherapy, energy psychology and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). The pogonophobia is more of issue with the subconscious mind and thus most of the treatments for pogonophobia revolve around hypnotist, psychologist, hypnotherapist and psychiatrist. The doctors try to reach to the root cause of the problem, which lies in your brain, and then start a suitable therapy. Some of the therapies, which can be used effectively against pogonophobia, are:

Hypnotherapy or Hypnoanalysis for Treating Pogonophobia

Hypnotherapy which is also known as hypnoanalysis is one of the most effective therapies for treating pogonophobia. In this therapy, the experts try to establish direct connection with your subconscious mind to understand the root cause that is leading to pogonophobia. Thus by understanding the cause of fear, the subconscious mind can be manipulated in a positive direction and new ideas can be implanted which can help you get out of pogonophobia.

It may take several sessions to manipulate your mind to stand against pogonophobia. There are many people who might not want to be played with their mind but it is just a therapy to help you face your fear of beards. Moreover it is quite safe and shows quick results. It is also approved by American Medical Association and has been used successfully running since 1958.

Energy Psychology for Treating Pogonophobia

Energy Psychology is one of the controversial but very effective therapies to overcome your pogonophobia. It involves simple techniques like qi gong, t ai chi, acupressure, prana, yoga, energy medicine etc... It also teaches simple steps to the patients on how to lead a normal life and get rid of pogonophobia. The therapy work with so called energy points on the surface of our body which is utilized to manipulate electrochemistry of brain towards positivity with help of some psychological procedures.

NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming

NLP or neuro-linguistic programming is also an effective treatment for pogonophobia. In NLP therapy the therapist observes the words which you use to describe your symptoms. The therapist will observe the body movements and facial expressions and try to find out the underlying source of your problem. They will help you in remodeling your mental associations and thoughts in order to change your perception.

Coping for Pogonophobia

Coping with pogonophobia is challenging. It is always better to seek professional treatment and accept help from experts to help yourself face the fear. Following are some of the things that can help you cope up with pogonophobia:

  • In order to properly cope with pogonophobia you should not run away from your fears. Try to work out strategies to overcome fear with the help of your friends, family and therapist.
  • Join a support group to properly cope with pogonophobia. Seek help from a support group where you can talk to the people suffering from pogonophobia and get support from the experts. It is a good place where people can understand your situation well.
  • Take medication as directed for coping well with pogonophobia. It is very important to take the dosage of medicines properly and do not skip any medication as it may lead to withdrawal-like symptoms.
  • Take care of yourself. Keep yourself physically fit by giving proper rest to your body and taking healthy diet. It will keep you active all day.

Helping Your Child Cope with Pogonophobia

Take your children immediately for treatment if you see signs of pogonophobia as it can –hamper their mental and physical growth. The following ways are helpful in this situation of pogonophobia:

  • Talk openly about pogonophobia. Do not ignore the situation or take it casually. Let your children know that you are concerned and spend time with them talking and understanding their situation.
  • Do not reinforce pogonophobia. Help your child to come out of the pogonophobia instead of reinforcing it. Help him facing the situation by gradually exposing him to the fear by taking professional help.
  • Model positive behavior. Be a role model for child and show him how to face the fear of pogonophobia. Children learn all the things by watching and thus you can help him overcome the fear by demonstrating a positive behavior.

Prevention of Pogonophobia

It is not easy to prevent pogonophobia if is caused by genes. It is strongly recommended to start a proper therapy immediately in the case of pogonophobic individuals who have children. Although there is very little chance of developing phobia genetically but children can easily develop phobia when they see you reacting anxiously to your fears regularly. Therefore, you can save your children from getting pogonophobia by treating yourself in time.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 30, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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