If you have Cherophobia, you suffer from fear of gaiety or happiness or fun. You literally have an aversion to happiness. People with Cherophobia believe that if they become happy, they are inviting something negative in their lives. The word Cherophobia is derived from Greek charo which denotes Joy and phobos which is deep aversion or fear. Needless to say that, a person with Cherophobia is unable to live life fully and appreciate all that it has to offer. Their phobia interferes significantly with their day-to-day life.
Causes of Cherophobia
Cherophobia is a specific phobia. It may or may not have one definite cause. Several factors can play a role in it:
- An incident in the past, particularly in childhood. As a child, the individual might have experienced great joy or happiness only to be followed by a traumatic incidence such as death of a near or dear one.
- Phobia is also a learned response. A parent or caregiver or an older sibling might caution the individual against being too happy as it ‘invites bad luck’. Worried and anxious parents can also create an environment which can influence the phobic.
- Genes also play an important role-some people are simply more susceptible to acquiring phobias like this one.
- Panic attacks in the past upon being happy could have led to an embarrassing situation for the phobic. The individual’s mind then learns to create even more anxiety about happiness/or being a joyful situation again.
- Excess stress can lead to anxiety and depression and over the long term could cause the individual to become extremely fearful about being happy. This leads to phobia.
If you are looking to overcome your intense fear of happiness phobia, then it is helpful to try and work out its cause. Sometimes though, there is no simple explanation for it. Avoiding happy situations will only make the fear worse. So it is best to face the object of your fears, in this case, becoming happy.
Symptoms of Fear of Happiness Phobia
As with all other phobias, the fear of happiness can produce different symptoms in different people. In severe cases, even thinking about happiness or joy can trigger some or all of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness, fainting spells
- Pounding heart/ Accelerated heartbeat
- Shivering, trembling
- Hot or cold flushes
- Being unable to breathe-feeling of choking
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Feeling disconnected with reality
- Thoughts of death or dying
- Tightness in chest
- Nausea or other gastrointestinal distress.
In patients with extreme Cherophobia, the fear can lead to disabling anxiety. The patient even starts to avoid certain situations, people or places which naturally impacts his/her normal routine. If the phobia symptoms last for more than 6 months, it is very important to seek medical help.
Self help for Cherophobia
- Self help is the best way of overcoming any phobia, though you can also seek help of professionals. The key is to learn to manage anxiety and panic when faced with the thought of becoming happy. Many relaxation techniques are proven to help one achieve control over anxiety: deep breathing, meditation are some of them.
- Mindfulness is another way of overcoming Cherophobia. When you are mindful and completely in the present moment, you naturally become free of fear which usually comes when you think thoughts of the future or about trauma of the past. The easiest way to become mindful is to bring your attention to your breath. Take a few deep breaths when you start feeling anxious. Also learn to take each day and every moment as it comes. This will prevent excess worrying and anxiety.
- Online and offline support groups can also help. When you talk to people and share your fears with others, you feel comforted with the thought that you are not alone.
It also helps to read and educate yourself about your fear. Many self help books are available and they are based on principles of CBT or Cognitive Behavior Therapy which is a proven treatment for many kinds of phobias.
Professional help for Fear of Happiness
If the above self-help techniques do not show results, it is important that you seek help of a professional. You can initially approach your General Practitioner who can refer you to a specialist dealing with phobias. CBT or cognitive behavior therapy is a proven technique to overcome specific phobias like Cherophobia. It aims to identify connections between thoughts, behaviors and feelings. The therapist can help you learn skills to manage your thought patterns that trigger the symptoms of the phobia. Another useful therapy for fear of happiness phobia is Hypnotherapy. You must seek help of a trained hypnotherapist for this treatment. In extreme cases, you may be given drugs (tranquilizers or antidepressants) to manage your anxiety or severe panic attacks. Drug therapy should always be the last resort as most anxiety medicines are known to have severe side effects.
Friends and family members of the individual also play an important role; they should be supportive and sympathetic to the individual.