Ergophobia: causes and characteristics of fear at work

Work is one of the basic needs of human beings and is the key to emotional balance, as it allows you to have good economic health, improve self-esteem, meet new people, etc. . People who really enjoy their jobs are lucky because we spent many hours there a day.

But making mistakes at work seriously affects our psychological health and can mark us. In fact, some subjects may even experiment what is called ergophobia or fear of work. In this article, we will talk about this type of phobia and explain in detail what are its characteristics.

    What are phobias

    Fear is one of the negative emotions that every human being feels. But it’s not that the fear is negative per se, but it qualifies as negative in the sense that its symptoms can cause discomfort. In reality, this emotion can become adaptive, By warning of a real danger that can put our life in danger.

    However, beings can also experience fear when we have a series of irrational beliefs or have unreal or imaginary ideas about something or a situation in mind. This irrational fear can become a psychological disorder called “phobia”.

    And there are many people who experience phobias in one of their forms: aerophobia or fear of flying, philophobia or fear of falling in love, arachnophobia or fear of spiders … Some phobias can even be strange (you can. check in this article: “The 15 rarest phobias that exist”).

    Human beings can come to feel an irrational fear of almost anything that is perceived or imagined: clowns, spiders, colors, etc. One of the hallmarks of this disorder is that the person suffering from a phobia does everything possible to avoid this stimulus that causes them discomfort, and this avoidance behavior can interfere with the normal functioning of their daily life. Phobias belong to the group of psychopathologies called “anxiety disorders”.

      Features of ergophobia or fear of work

      Working 8 hours a day Monday through Friday is considered normal, but the work can cause a number of issues. like stress at work or burnout if we don’t like our work or if they ask too much of it. In extreme cases, some people may experience very high feelings of anxiety when going to work, as well as an intense fear that prevents them not only from performing their tasks properly, but also the fact that they are present at work cause excessive discomfort. This fear is called ergophobia.

      Ergophobes feel a persistent fear of work, which can lead to serious problems for their lives. Of course, work is a necessity in order to obtain minimum goods, and avoidance can lead to, among other consequences, economic problems. Although the ergophobic person tries to avoid dreaded situations like going to work, in some cases they may have difficulty meeting deadlines or making presentations.

        Causes of the disorder

        The causes of this disorder can be varied. Usually a phobia it is a consequence of a traumatic experience that the person is associated with an initially neutral stimulus due to a classical conditioning process.

        Experiencing a stressful situation causes great discomfort and anxiety, and the person tries to avoid the feared stimuli so as not to feel bad. Although this is a very common way of suffering from specific phobias, other phobias, the more complex ones, can be caused by other reasons. For example, researchers believe that there are other causes that influence the development of social phobia or agoraphobia.

        Work phobia can also be seen as a complex phobia which can sometimes be the result of other fears, for example, to have to make presentations in public, Which would be rather specific to social phobia.

        Other causes of this phobia

        It can also happen that the person who suffers from fear at work have a self-esteem problem. For example, an individual may be so worried because he thinks he will not be able to perform his tasks effectively, and he believes that his colleagues will hate him for not meeting his workgroup deadlines. This fear fuels the phobia even more and can make the person feel intense fear when they go to work.

        In summary, the causes of ergophobia are:

        • Traumatic experiences at work. For example, making fun of classmates.
        • Anxious personality.
        • Mood disorders.
        • Other fears. For example, being rejected, making introductions, etc.
        • Genetic factors.


        Symptoms of ergophobia do not differ from other phobic disorders. ergophobia usually exhibits physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms.

        • Increased heart rate and increased heart rate.
        • Rapid breathing and shortness of breath.
        • Excessive sweating.
        • Dry mouth.
        • Panic attacks.
        • Stomach pain and headache.
        • Muscle tension.
        • Feeling unreal.
        • Anxiety.
        • Loss of concentration.
        • Avoidant behaviors.


        People who suffer from this disorder they are usually aware that they have a problem, but they don’t always ask for help.

        To overcome this disorder it is necessary to go to the psychologist so that he can make a correct diagnosis. In general, psychotherapy will be sufficient to overcome this condition; however, in extreme cases, it is possible that certain medications can be used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, drug treatment should always be combined with psychological therapy.

        When it comes to psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be very effective in treating phobias, as it includes a number of techniques that help overcome the pathology. Exposure techniques and systematic desensitization they are, without a doubt, the most used, because they expose the patient to the dreaded situation and allow him to experience the irrationality of his beliefs. However, cognitive behavioral therapy also uses other very effective techniques, such as relationship or cognitive restructuring. Other therapeutic methods such as mindfulness can also be of great help to the patient.

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