Definition of Nosocomephobia or the fear of hospitals. This article provides information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this phobia.
Nosocomephobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of hospitals. The nosocomephobic individual may refrain from going to the hospital out of fear of contracting illness or disease. Some people coping with this phobia may associate hospitals with tragic illnesses, accidents, even death. In its extreme form, the person compromised with Nosocomephobia will avoid visiting loved ones who have been hospitalized and/or will refuse to attend medical appointments scheduled at the hospital.
Nosocomephobia derives from the Greek word “nosokemeion”, meaning hospital and “phobos” meaning fear.
What Causes Nosocomephobia?
As is the case with all phobias, the person suffering with Nosocomephobia has experienced some tragedy at some time in their life. That traumatic experience is then consistently and automatically associated with hospitals.
Maybe the nosocomephobic person has suffered a serious injury or illness that resulted in hospitalization. Perhaps this individual has personal knowledge of another person who was hospitalized and ultimately died. Maybe the person compromised by Nosocomephobia is sensitive to the antiseptic smell of hospitals or intensely squeamish around all the medical equipment in use at the hospital. Perhaps, this individual watched the negative and fearful reactions of others when confronted with having to go to hospital and simply learned to imitate that response.
Whatever the cause, the nosocomephobic individual can experience anxiety and emotional turmoil that is completely disruptive to their ability to function.
What Are the Symptoms of Nosocomephobia?
The symptoms of Nosocomephobia are individual and will vary from person to person. Some people, when confronted with their fear of hospitals, may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they may experience crippling anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Other symptoms of Nosocomephobia may include:
- A Dry Mouth
- Heart Palpitations
- Heightened Senses
- Feeling Dizzy
- Muscle Tension
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Feeling Out of Control
- Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape
- Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster
How Is Nosocomephobia Diagnosed?
The vast majority of cases of Nosocomephobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of hospital is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.
The nosocomephobic person may discuss their phobia with the primary physician. Rarely would the doctor diagnosis Nosocomephobia based on that initial discussion with the patient. More routinely, after ruling out any medical reason for this phobia, the doctor will refer the person to a mental health professional for comprehensive assessment and evaluation.
How Is Nosocomephobia Treated?
When the fear of hospitals becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function, there are a number of ways to treat Nosocomephobia.
These can include:
- A referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.
- Traditional “talk” therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.
- Exposure Therapy.
- Self-help techniques such as purposeful muscle relaxation.
- Support groups with other people who are coping with this specific phobia.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.
- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.
- In severe cases of Nosocomephobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.
Nosocomephobia is an intense, irrational fear of hospitals. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Nosocomephobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal life, their social life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Nosocomephobia can have a devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life.