What is Panophobia?

December 28, 2018
We've all experienced to some degree the feeling of fear that debilitates panophobics. It is a strange fear of something unknown, inexplicable, that is hiding from you.

Some people say that there is no medicine for fear. If that were true, then the people who suffer from panophobia would have no hope. We’ve all experienced the feeling of fear that debilitates panophobics to some degree: the fear of an unknown evil.

This fear of the unknown has a name: panophobia. If you suffer from panophobia, don’t worry. This phobia responds pretty well to intervention. In this article, we talk about the definition, symptoms, and treatment of panophobia. Just like with other phobias, avoidance won’t help.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

-Yoda-

What is panophobia?

Panophobia is having a vague fear of an inexplicable threat that comes from an unknown source. It’s an irrational fear that doesn’t have a logical trigger. As with other phobias, an individual with panophobia understands that their phobia doesn’t make any sense.

Experts also call this phobia “fear of everything”, omniphobia, panphobia, or pantophobia. It got its name from the ancient Greek god Pan, who instilled fear in people.

People with this phobia worry excessively about an event or a series of events. Psychologists consider this a limiting phobia because it influences and conditions the behavior or the person who suffers from it.

A woman with panophobia looking out the window.

Causes of panophobia

There are different possible causes of this phobia. In general, patients don’t remember the first time they felt this kind of fear. However, they often remember when it started to be a significant source of anxiety.

Experts tend to agree that it comes from other, more specific phobias. Some examples are arachnophobia or aerophobia. Those other phobias can make people more vulnerable to panophobia. Some of the most common causes are experiencing traumatic events and genetics. Another possible cause is a personal experience, i.e. children adopting their parents’ fearful attitude.

Symptoms of panophobia

How do you know if you have this problem? It has many identifiable symptoms, such as an irrational fear of objects, situations, people, and animals, among other things. What’s harder to define is the constant and difficult-to-explain fear.

This phobia can make you start to avoid situations and people. If this starts happening, you should put yourself in the hands of professionals. If your disorder gets this bad, you end up in a state of hypervigilance. In this state, your body is constantly producing adrenaline to respond to that hypervigilance.

What’s more, this problem usually goes hand in hand with other mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or sadness. We also see it in people with low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and a low locus of control.

Sometimes patients with panophobia express a fear of losing control or a constant desire to flee from the stressful situation that they believe caused the fear. It can also cause physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, dizziness, heart palpitations, fast breathing, vomiting, bodily and abdominal pain, and body tension.

A woman running away in a forest.

Treatment for panophobia

Fortunately, panophobia has specific treatments. Of course, any treatment would only be used after an evaluation with a qualified psychologist. The specialist would then tailor a treatment plan for the patient’s needs. Some of the tools that psychologists tend to use to treat panophobia are:

  • Systematic desensitization: This treatment aims to reduce anxious responses during exposure to the situations and objects that the patient fears in order to eliminate the flight response.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapyThis type of therapy studies the irrational and distorted beliefs that led the person to develop the phobia. Consequently, the patient can stop seeing them as dangerous.
  • Self-instruction: Drawn from the previous therapy, this kind of treatment consists of changing behavior by verbalizing the situation that produces anxiety.
  • Mindfulness: This is a complementary technique that invites the patient to be in the present moment. They should focus on the here and now, accept the unpleasantness as part of the experience, and give up control.
  • Medication: In severe cases, prescription drugs might also be necessary. Doctors might prescribe them if the patient suffers from a severe phobia.

In conclusion, you can see that there are many tools available to treat panophobia. However, there’s one thing we didn’t mention that’s a key ingredient: the patient’s attitude. They have to be ready to work hard and trust the specialist in charge of their case.