Euphobia is the fear of hearing good news. The name derives from the Greek eu, meaning “good” or “true,” and phobia, meaning “fear.” It’s considered a rare phobia, although the exact incidence rate worldwide is unknown. In fact, as it was first identified rather recently, there are not currently a lot of statistics or information about it.
It is important to note that the good news does not necessarily have to be about the euphobic person for them to experience symptoms. Some people with this phobia have been known to react poorly to news about friends, family members, or even complete strangers.
What Causes Euphobia?
The exact causes of euphobia are unknown at this time, although it is believed to be a learned phobia. This means that people are generally not born with it, and there is no genetic link to suggest that euphobia itself could run in families. However, some behavioral psychologists believe that a family history of mental illness could play a role in developing phobias in general, including euphobia.
There are a few theories as to how a person would develop a fear of good news. One of the more popular is that it is a trauma response. This suggests that, at at least one point in a person’s life, they expected to hear good news but ended up getting bad news instead.
For example, imagine a person who buys a Powerball ticket at their local gas station. As they watch the news that evening, they see that the winning numbers are “11 21 88 1 21 93”. They look down at their ticket and see those exact numbers and begin celebrating wildly.
The person immediately quits their job via a particularly nasty text message that details their exact feelings toward their boss. The next day, at the lottery redemption kiosk, they realize they had misread the numbers on their ticket. They’ve actually won nothing. From then on, they might become fearful of hearing good news, as it reminds them of the time they turned their life upside down because of a mistake.
A more severe case could involve a person whose spouse is diagnosed with a terrible disease. The doctors are confident that it is treatable, but their beloved dies anyway. As a result, every piece of good news they hear could trigger the memory of celebrating the doctor’s positive prognosis with their late spouse and the pain they felt upon losing the love of their life.
Although there is no known genetic link, as mentioned above, research suggests that it may also be a learned behavior. Imagine a young man who grows up seeing his parents react negatively every time they receive any sort of good news. For the parents, it could be a trauma response resulting from a situation like one of the ones listed above that happened years before their son was born.
Although the child did not share in this traumatic experience because he wasn’t born yet, he learned the behavior from his parents. As a result, his response may mimic theirs. Similarly, it is possible for a person to develop euphobia as a result of a traumatic incident that they have suppressed and don’t consciously remember.
The final possible cause is a defensive mechanism. Imagine a teenager whose friends tell them that the person they like is going to come to a party and that person never shows. They’re told that they’re doing great in class and will get an excellent score on the final examination, only to find out later that they didn’t study enough and received a D-.
In this case, the person has been disappointed so many times by “good news” that turned out not to be very good at all. To protect their feelings, they may subconsciously begin to disbelieve or fear the very act of hearing good news. Then, when things don’t turn out the way they were told would happen, the person can reassure themselves that they were correct all along to disbelieve it. It may also lead to a form of cognitive bias, where actual good news that turns out to be true is discounted anyway, usually on a flimsy pretense, so that the person can avoid facing the realization that they were wrong.
Symptoms of Euphobia
As with all phobias, anxiety is usually the first symptom to be experienced. The sufferer begins to feel uncomfortable and negative thoughts begin to swirl in their head. As this anxiety becomes more intense, it can manifest physically and result in heart palpitations, sweating, twitching, and/or dizziness. In more severe cases, a euphobic can have a full-scale panic attack and either feel lightheaded or actually faint.
For others, the physical manifestation might not take place or at least might not be obvious to others. Sometimes euphobics will become withdrawn and tell others they need to be alone. They might lash out in anger at those around them, suffer mood swings, or just generally be irritable.
There are several treatment options that have been proven effective in the past for euphobia. One of the more popular choices is exposure therapy, where a therapist or other professional tells the patient a series of increasingly good news in a controlled environment to help them overcome their fears.
Another popular choice is cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly known by its initials “CBT.” With this form of treatment, the patient speaks with a therapist or another type of mental health professional, and they discuss why the patient feels this way. Further, the therapist helps the patient develop coping mechanisms or other strategies that will help prevent symptoms in the future and overcome the disease.
For euphobics who don’t respond to these treatments, various forms of mindfulness are recommended. For some people, meditation has proven effective. Those who are religious may feel more comforted by praying for relief from their symptoms. Depending on the person, it may be better to focus on the problem and how to overcome it. Others may find more success by clearing their mind completely.
Finally, euphobia sufferers who do not respond to any of the above forms of treatment can be given prescription medication, although this is often used as a last resort. These prescriptions are generally for anti-anxiety medications like Xanax or Valium.
Conditions Similar to Euphobia
A patient who believes they may suffer from euphobia may actually have a similar condition or be suffering from other phobias at the same time. In the medical community, this is known as “comorbidity.” Here are a few other phobias that could be confused for euphobia or that a patient who suffers from euphobia might also be experiencing.
Cherophobia is the fear of happiness. It is often tied to the notion that if the sufferer allows themself to experience joy, something terrible will soon happen as a punishment. A person could have both cherophobia and euphobia at the same time, or the two could be mistaken for one another.
Achievemephobia is the fear of success, which is often caused by the feeling that the sufferer does not deserve it or is stealing the spotlight from another. As personal success is a form of good news, it is very likely that someone who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions could very well have the other, although that isn’t necessarily always the case.
Atychiphobia is the fear of failure. For example, a 42-year-old man hears that a 22-year-old athlete has broken a major sports record, causing the older man extreme anxiety. That could be the result of hearing good news and, therefore, euphobia. However, it could also be the man’s fear of his perceived failure. He might feel like he hasn’t accomplished anything in his life or, at the very least, not as much as the younger man has in a shorter time.
Treating Euphobia Without Therapy
If this all sounds a bit familiar and you suspect that you might have euphobia, the usual first recommendation is to schedule an appointment with a therapist. They will be able to help you out and determine what the best course of treatment for you will be. However, some people may not be interested in therapy or might not be able to afford it. Thankfully, there are a few alternatives.
As with all anxiety disorders, reducing caffeine consumption may help reduce symptoms. According to the Harvard Medical School, excessive caffeine consumption can exacerbate existing anxiety disorders like euphobia. Cutting out that extra soda or cup of coffee every day could reduce your anxiety.
Another strategy is to increase levels of exercise or physical activities, such as yoga, running, or lifting weights. These produce endorphins that can counteract some of the negative feelings that anxiety produces.
Finally, if you have a friend, significant other, family member, or someone else that you trust, it might be a good idea to try a home version of exposure therapy. Hearing good news from a person that you love and trust may make it easier to hear similar news from other people.