What You Need to Know About Athazagoraphobia, the Fear of Being Forgotten
What is athazagoraphobia?
Phobias are long-term anxiety disorders that can disrupt your daily life. For some, the condition can bring strong feelings of panic, anxiety, stress, and fear.
In severe cases, you might experience physical or psychological reactions that interfere with your daily life.
Athazagoraphobia is a fear of forgetting someone or something, as well as a fear of being forgotten.
For example, you or someone close to you may have anxiety or fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss. This might come from caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
You might also worry that a family member with Alzheimer’s disease won’t remember you.
Read on to learn more about athazagoraphobia.
What causes the fear of being forgotten
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of phobias, but experts believe there are environmental and genetic factors linking specific phobias.
This might include childhood trauma, like being left alone as a child, or direct family connections, like a relative with dementia, to specific phobias related to memory.
Most phobias fall into certain defined categories. For example, they may be related to situations like fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease, objects such as books, or the environment like a fear of heights.
You might be more prone to specific phobias if you have:
- a traumatic experience that triggers the phobia
- a direct link like a relative with a phobia or anxiety disorder
- a sensitive nature or you’re shy or introverted
There are certain criteria outlined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for specific phobias. Currently, the APA doesn’t recognize athazagoraphobia as a specific type of phobia or disorder.
However, studies have shown people have anxiety and fear related to memory loss. Conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are examples where the fear of forgetting things or people can be a real worry.
Alternatively, family members of those with Alzheimer’s or dementia may have anxiety over being forgotten by their loved ones.
A direct connection like a family member with memory loss can bring about long-term fear and anxiety.
Symptoms of specific types of phobias vary depending on the severity of the phobia. Most people experience levels of anxiety as the most common symptom. Others may experience a mix of physical and emotional symptoms.
- panic attacks
- body aches
- muscle tension
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- restlessness, nervousness
- avoiding social situations
- lack of focus or concentration
How to cope
Phobias are common. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 12.5 percent of Americans experience a specific phobia at some point in their life. Most people have mild phobias they can control and don’t seek treatment.
For some, the seriousness of anxiety and fear can negatively impact their life. Learning a few coping skills can minimize and provide relief from the phobia.
Some helpful coping tips include:
- exercise such as yoga
- focused breathing techniques
- balanced diet
- using a thought diary
- having a support system
- learning to lower stress by avoiding triggers of phobia
When to see a medical professional
Everyone has moments of anxiety or fear. When the anxiety is chronic or so severe that it limits your daily life and activities or jeopardizes your health, it might help to talk to a trained mental health professional.
Mental health professionals can help by:
- discussing what’s causing your anxiety
- helping you learn more about your specific phobia and triggers
- performing a physical exam and getting your health history
- ruling out other health conditions or medications as a problem
How is athazagoraphobia diagnosed?
The diagnosis of any phobia is based on symptom severity from the DSM-5 criteria.
Since athazagoraphobia isn’t recognized under DSM-5 criteria, generally, a health professional will review your history and symptoms.
This might include a review of any childhood trauma, family history, and other related factors that might be causing your fear or anxiety.
Treatment of any anxiety disorder depends on how severe the condition might be. It generally includes coping tools, therapy as well as medications, if needed.
Options can include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- mindfulness and breathing techniques
- anti-anxiety medications
- antidepressant, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Phobias are common and can range from mild anxiety to fear, stress, and panic attacks.
Many people with phobias hold back from living life fully, but there are great tools available to help manage phobia.
Learn what triggers your phobia and what helps calm your fears. This might be a nice cup of tea, soothing sounds, aromatherapy or going for a walk.
Long-term options include cognitive behavioral therapy to improve symptoms and provide balance and clarity.
Today there are also many apps to help deal with anxiety. Some are free, while others have small subscription fees. If you have a mild phobia, try a few to see if they work for you.
You can also find help online with these organizations:
Talk to a mental health professional about your specific concerns and what tools and strategies you can incorporate into your daily life to help you manage your phobia and live your best life.