Carcinophobia (or the fear of cancer) is an unpleasant and very real phobia afflicting people (or even friends and relatives of people) who have been diagnosed with the deadly disease.
The incidence of Carcinophobia has reduced now as compared to that a couple of decades ago, when the knowledge regarding cancer and its treatment was quite limited. That being said, many men and women all around the world are known to suffer from extreme forms of this social anxiety phobia.
Many of us fear deadly diseases that are prevalent today especially those like cancer. In most cases, however, such fear is rational, and even normal to an extent. But in people with the extreme fear of cancer, the condition renders them into a state of perpetual panic that may affect their day to day functioning or activities. Carcinophobia can also lead to Agoraphobia, where the person refuses to leave his/her home due to the fear of acquiring cancer.
Causes of fear of cancer
The fear of cancer (or for that matter any deadly disease) often means fearing loss of control, pain, and, ultimately, death.
Typical causes of Carcinophobia include a brush with the disease; a patient may have had a biopsy or might have seen a closed relative/friend suffer or die due to it. Most phobics also ‘learn’ to unconsciously imitate the reactions that people usually have towards cancer. Media, movies, stories etc related to cancer can also instill a deep fear that can border on phobia. Children can pick up the fear of cancer from parents and grandparents or their reactions to the disease.
Symptoms of the fear of cancer phobia
People with Carcinophobia are afraid of getting cancer so much so that they are constantly visiting doctors to ensure all is well with their health.
The mere thought of the disease can trigger a panic or anxiety attack that is characterized by physical and psychological symptoms. Physical symptoms include shaking or trembling, sweating, experiencing a rapid heartbeat, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, fainting, breathing rapidly, crying or screaming.
Psychological symptoms include thoughts of death, experiencing a total loss of control with the inability to distinguish between what’s real and unreal.
Patients also tend to show signs of depression; many simply lose hope or are unable to enjoy life. Slightest physical symptoms like a cough or headache is enough to send them rushing to their healthcare provider to ensure all is well with them. They are known to spend vast amounts of money on costly procedures to confirm that a small bruise or bump is not cancer.
People with the fear of cancer phobia also tend to worry a lot, particularly about their spouses or children, as to who will look after them if they get the disease.
Carcinophobics are known to go to great lengths to avoid cancer, often fussing about what they eat or the products they use. They are known to get angry or provoked at the slightest suspicion that a person is ‘bringing a carcinogen’ into their home.
They tend to avoid all social activities or events if they feel there are carcinogens involved.
Treatment of Carcinophobia
There are many treatment options for overcoming the fear of cancer phobia. For treating anxiety and depression, psychotherapists often prescribe tranquilizers or anti-depressants. Other than these, talk therapy and group therapy sessions are also very effective in helping one cope with Carcinophobia.
Hypnotherapy is another popular option as far as treating the fear of cancer phobia is concerned. It has been proven to show long term results and is also non invasive and safe. Ericksonian Hypnosis is an advanced form of hypnotherapy that indirectly sends messages through stories or metaphors to the more analytical patients with an extreme fear of cancer.
NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming therapy is another modern method of treating many kinds of phobias. This therapy helps reprogram the unconscious mind to alter the thought process so that one re-learns not to fear cancer.
Carcinophobia is an unpleasant thought treatable phobia. Those who live with it know how it can negatively impact their daily lives. However, with treatment options like Hypnotherapy or NLP one can definitely overcome it to regain control over their lives and happiness.