Physical pain is something that is not usually pleasant or attractive, but sooner or later happens to us. Either by accident or negligence, or by intervention or surgery.
However, there are a number of people for whom this possibility generates exaggerated fear and extremely high anxiety levels. We talk about people who are suffering traumatophobia, a specific phobia that we will talk about throughout this article.
What is traumatophobia?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) classification, traumatophobia is a specific phobia classified as anxiety disorders in which the person experiences an abnormal and pathological fear of injury, injury or any physical damage or injury.
The root of its name comes from the Greek term “trauma” translated as injury, coupled with “phobos” which can be literally understood as fear. Therefore, traumatophobia is understood as experience an exacerbated, irrational, and uncontrollable fear of being hurt or physically damaged.
One of the main characteristics of traumatophobia is that when the person suffering from it is exposed to blood, an injury or even an injection, they begin to experience feelings of extreme anxiety brought on by the fear of it. , a phobic stimulus.
Due to this irrational and excessive anxiety, traumatophobes manifest a constant desire to avoid specific objects and situations. in which there is a possibility of getting hurt; get to the point of avoiding potentially curative medical procedures.
However, very severe cases of traumatophobia have been described in which any activity or situation causes panic. Tasks and exercises such as running, cooking, driving, hiking or any kind of sport can be complete torture for the person, who will look for all kinds of reasons and excuses not to have to do them; being the final and most serious consequence of this phobia fear of leaving home.
This makes people with traumatophobia find it very difficult to develop their daily lives normally. This means that this condition can interfere both in the work plan and in the social and personal plan of the subject.
But it’s okay to be afraid of pain, right?
Of course. Feeling physical pain in any of its forms or degrees is not something that is generally pleasurable or appealing (removing, of course, any pain-related paraphilia). Aversion and avoidance of pain is a logical reaction for anyone who does not like to suffer; however, there is profound differences between this type of aversion and a phobic fear inherent in traumatophobia.
The main distinguishing features that differentiate a normal fear from a pathological fear are:
- The fear response is excessive and disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the situation.
- Fear is irrationalGet to the point where the person is unable to find a reasonable explanation for their feeling of fear.
- It is uncontrollable. This means that the person is completely unable to control the sensations they are feeling.
- Causes avoidance and evasion behaviors.
- Fear presents itself constantly over time and through feared situations.
What are the symptoms?
Since traumatophobia is part of a diagnostic classification of anxiety disorders, it is composed of a number of symptoms and presents the same clinical picture as other specific phobias.
The first and main symptom is his be afraid of being hurt or hurt.But there are many other symptoms that accompany it. While they don’t necessarily have to look the same in all people, clinical symptoms of traumatophobia include physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and behavioral symptoms.
1. Physical symptoms
Physical symptoms appear as a result of an overactivation of the nervous system in response to the onset of the phobic stimulus and are usually the first symptoms a person experiences consciously.
- Increased heart rate and palpitations.
- Increased respiratory rate.
- Feeling of suffocation or shortness of breath.
- Muscle tension.
- Increased sweating.
- Stomach upset such as upset stomach and / or diarrhea.
- Dizziness or a feeling of vertigo.
- Nausea and / or vomiting.
2. Cognitive symptoms
In addition to the physical symptoms, traumatophobia is distinguished by also exhibiting a series of cognitive symptoms that form the basis of this specific phobia and in turn nourish it, making it more and more stable and strong.
This cognitive symptomatology it manifests itself in distorted thoughts and irrational ideas on physical injuries and injuries. These ideas are also characterized by their intrusive and uncontrollable character and are often accompanied by mental images with catastrophic content in relation to the possible dangers or threats of this phobic stimulus.
3. Behavioral symptoms
Finally, the third group of symptoms is that which includes the altered behavioral patterns of the traumatized person. these they tend to interfere with the person’s daily life, Modify one’s behavior and generate two different types of responses: avoidant behavior and evasive behavior.
Avoidant behaviors include all behaviors in which the traumatized subject engages in order to escape the situation or the phobic object. For example, avoid playing risky sport.
On the other hand, the exhaust pipes come from when the person could not avoid the confrontation with the feared situation, Which will trigger all kinds of acts or behaviors that will allow you to escape as quickly as possible.
What are the causes?
There are many factors that can influence the development of a specific phobia. However, having a highly traumatic experience related to the phobic stimulus is usually the most common of all.
Although it is difficult to find the specific causes that caused a person to develop a phobia, because sometimes not even aware of what events may have caused her.
Other elements or risk factors that can promote the development of a phobia include:
- Genetic conditioners.
- Personality models.
- cognitive styles.
- Direct packaging.
Learning by proxy or imitation.
Is there a treatment?
While not all people with phobia usually seek help, in the specific case of traumatophobia it can become very disablingTherefore, its treatment is necessary.
With the development of therapies and treatments for anxiety disorders, a number of action protocols or treatment guidelines have been created that can help decrease the symptoms of the phobia and allow the person to lead a rhythm and a normal lifestyle.
Traditionally, the treatment of phobias has been based on psychological intervention. Which has proven to be the most effective and with the most stable results. Cognitive restructuring is performed to eliminate distorted thoughts, accompanied by live exposure or systematic desensitization techniques (DS).
These techniques consist of a progressive exposure to situations related to the phobia, live or through the imagination. Along with this, training in relaxation techniques is carried out which can decrease the level of physical symptoms of anxiety.