Latrophobia (phobia of doctors): symptoms, causes and treatment

Since childhood, having to consult a doctor or any other type of health specialist like a dentist is quite painful and traumatic. However, this is a normative and understandable fear, as in many cases these visits are related to suffering from some kind of pain.

However, when this fear becomes chronic and becomes an extreme fear of doctors, we may not be faced with a case of latrophobia. In this article, we’ll talk about the features of this disorder, along with its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

    What is latrophobia?

    Classified under specific anxiety disorders, latrophobia consists of experiencing excessive, irrational and uncontrollable fear of doctors. This fear can spread to any type of professional who works in the health sector (dentists, nurses, etc.) or to the health centers themselves.

    Anyone with the ability to diagnose, administer medication, apply an injection, or perform any type of treatment or medical intervention, may be prone to the phobia of a latrophobe. This anxiety disorder can go so far as to cause a severe anxiety reaction just by perceiving the characteristic odor of a health center or hospital.

    The main consequence of this phobia is that people who suffer from it they avoid at all costs going to any space related to the health sector.

    Although they are aware that all health professionals aim to preserve it, people with latrophobia will try by all means not to go to a medical visit at the risk of ignoring the diagnoses, which worsen illnesses and even that they become incurable.

    Although in the specific anxiety disorder known as nosophobia the patient also avoids having to see a doctor at all costs, the main difference seen with latrophobia is that if at first the phobic stimulus manifests itself as the fear of getting sick, in the second it is the figure of the professional that causes this fear.

      How to differentiate it from a normative fear of the doctor?

      As mentioned above, it’s common to feel a certain respect, even a bit of fear, at the thought of going to a doctor, dentist, etc. However, this fear should not be excessive or interfere with the patient’s routine.

      There are a number of specific characteristics that differentiate a normative fear from a phobic fear inherent in phobic disorders such as latrophobia.

      The first trait with which we can identify a phobic fear is that this it is experienced in a way that is absolutely disproportionate to the real threat who exist. While it is true that doctor visits can sometimes lead to painful measures, the level of fear that these people experience about the possibility of suffering from this pain is excessive and exaggerated.

      The second characteristic of this type of specific phobias is that the fear is felt in a completely irrational way. That is, the person is practically unable to give a reasoning or a logical basis for the fear he feels and even to the point of accepting that it does not make sense, and yet not be able to avoid it.

      Finally, in this type of anxiety disorder, the person cannot control the fear he feels about the appearance or the mere idea of ​​having to face the phobic object. That means the patient cannot avoid experiencing the sensations and feelings of anxietyAs well as the emergence of intrusive thoughts and beliefs that promote and reinforce this anxiety response.

      What are the symptoms?

      The most characteristic manifestation of latrophobia, along with other specific phobias, is the experience of high levels of anxiety regarding the appearance of the feared object. In addition, for this fear to be diagnosed as phobic, the person must manifest some of the symptoms inherent in this type of disorder.

      these symptoms they are divided into physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms and behavioral symptoms. And although they don’t have to arise in the same way and with the same intensity in all of these people, they will have to experience signs of all three categories.

      1. Physical symptoms

      As with the vast majority of anxiety responses, experiencing a phobic fear usually involves a series of changes and alterations in the body. These changes appear due to the hyperactivity of the autonomic nervous system when the aversive stimulus appears.

      These symptoms are as follows:

      • Increased heart rate.
      • Increased respiratory rate.
      • Feeling of suffocation or shortness of breath.
      • Increased sweating.
      • Increased muscle tension.
      • Headache.
      • Stomach upset and problems such as diarrhea.
      • Scared of heights.
      • Nausea and / or vomiting.
      • Loss of consciousness.

      2. Cognitive symptoms

      Accompanying the physical symptoms, latrophobia presents in its clinical picture the appearance of a series of irrational thoughts and distorted beliefs about the feared object. In this case, medical personnel or health professionals.

      These cognitive symptoms manifest themselves as follows:

      • Intrusive and uncontrollable ideas about the supposed danger or risks of the phobic stimulus.
      • obsessive speculation.
      • Appearance of catastrophic mental images.
      • Fear of losing control and not being able to handle the situation properly.

      3. Behavioral symptoms

      This latter category of symptoms includes patterns of behavior that appear in response to the onset of the phobic stimulus. This symptomatology aims to avoid the dreaded situation or to run away if it has already appeared. These conduits are called bypass or evacuation conduits.

      The first type of behavioral symptoms are those aimed at avoiding meeting with a health professional. In other words, it includes all the behaviors or acts that the person performs to avoid the possibility of confronting them. Thanks to these symptoms the person temporarily avoids feeling anxious and anxious peculiar to a phobia.

      On the other hand, escape behaviors appear when the person suffering from latrophobia has not been able to avoid the phobic stimulus, he will therefore perform all the acts and behaviors that will allow him to escape the situation as quickly as possible. .

      What are the causes?

      Although it is really difficult to determine the specific origin of a phobia, it is hypothesized that a genetic predisposition, coupled with the experimentation of traumatic experiences, May be the basis for the development of this phobia and any other phobia.

      Likewise, there are many other factors that we need to take into account, such as personality, cognitive styles or vicarious learning, as they can promote the emergence and development of such irrational fears.

      Is there a treatment?

      Due to the patient health complications that this phobia can cause, such people are recommended to consult a mental health professional. There are different psychological interventions that can help decrease the intensity of symptoms and even go away.

      Treatments using cognitive restructuring techniques they can help eliminate irrational thoughts and beliefs, which often form the basis of this disorder.

      Likewise, the so-called “systematic desensitization” treatment, in which the person is mentally and progressively exposed to the thoughts or situations which provoke this fear accompanied by training in relaxation techniques, is very effective insofar as the person can overcome their phobic fear and restore their usual rhythm of life.

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