Gerantophobia or gerascophobia: fear of aging

We live in a world obsessed with the image of youth and beauty. To some extent, it is normal that no one wants to grow old, because as we get older we lose our physical faculties and our health becomes more vulnerable.

For many, old age can be a difficult time, as it is not easy to assume that the best years of our life may have passed. But when there is an irrational fear of growing up and that fear affects a person’s well-being, then we talk about “Hierascophobia“.

Gerascophobia: what is it?

A phobia is one irrational fear that affects the quality of life of the sufferer, And causes the individual to suffer from extreme anxiety. Gerascophobia is the fear of aging. People with this disorder are horrified by the changes they go through as a result of passing of the years. Some changes for those who are afraid may be: becoming dependent on others, loss of mobility, possibility of being taken into residence, changes in appearance or gradual deterioration in health.

The term gerascophobia is a combination of the Greek words γέρων – geron, meaning “old man” and φόβος – phobos, meaning “fear”.

Causes of gerascophobia

Gerascophobia begins to develop in your mid-thirties, when signs of aging (such as wrinkles) begin to appear. Realizing these changes, the person suffering from this phobia begins to suffer from an anxiety disorder.

It seems that external factors, such as images in the media or the cultural value of youth, are at the root of the irrational beliefs of patients. On the other hand, it is possible that a traumatic event from the past is at the origin of the development of the disorder. Finally, this condition can also develop due to the fear of being alone and helpless during the last years of life.

Symptoms of gerascophobia

The symptoms of gerascophobia are no different from the symptoms that occur in other types of phobia. Because gerascophobia is an anxiety disorder, its symptoms are usually irrational fear and anxiety.

Below is presented a list of symptoms which can be caused by thoughts about aging or vision or contact with older people.

  • sweat
  • tremors
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • tachycardia
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Inability to speak
  • social isolation
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Disinterest in reality
  • thrill
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Headache

Treatment of gerascophobia

Although many people with gerascophobia are aware of their irrational fear, they do not have the capacity to overcome this pathology. In these cases, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional if it cannot be overcome on your own.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, affective desensitization or neurolinguistic programming (NLP) have been shown to be very effective in overcoming phobic disorders. Although it is common to go to a general practitioner, it is advisable to go to an expert with experience in the treatment of phobias, and anxiety disorders and phobias should be treated with psychological therapy.

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