Thermophobia: the Fear of Heat

Thermophobia is an overwhelming, irrational fear of heat. The thermophobic’s fear of heat may not be limited to hot weather.

Some individuals, who cope with this phobia, will avoid hot food, hot water or hot appliances for example. Others fear sitting on a seat that another has recently sat on or will refuse to put on warm clothes. At its extreme, thermophobic individuals may even move to cold climates in order to avoid heat.

Thermophobia derives from the Greek “therme”, meaning heat and “phobos” meaning fear.

What Causes Thermophobia?

As is the case with all phobias, the person coping with Thermophobia has experienced a traumatic event at some point in their life. That experience then becomes consistently and automatically associated with heat.

Perhaps the thermophobic person generally was intolerant of heat and as a result, the phobia developed. Maybe this individual was severely burned or scalded at some time or has personal knowledge of someone who was. The person impacted by Thermophobia could have an underlying and undiagnosed medical condition that results in a hypersensitivity to heat.

Whatever the cause, the thermophobic individual can experience anxiety and emotional turmoil that is completely disruptive to their ability to function.

What Are the Symptoms of Thermophobia?

The symptoms of Thermophobia are individual and will vary among people. Some people, when confronted with their fear of heat, 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 Thermophobia may include:

* A Dry Mouth

* Heart Palpitations

* Numbness

* Heightened Senses

* Breathlessness

* Feeling Dizzy

* Muscle Tension

* Hyperventilation

* Trembling

* Rapid Heartbeat

* Feeling Out of Control

* Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape

* Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster

How Is Thermophobia Diagnosed?

The vast majority of cases of Thermophobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of heat is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.

The thermophobic person may discuss their phobia with the primary physician. Rarely would the doctor diagnosis Thermophobia 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 Thermophobia Treated?

When the fear of heat becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function, there are a number of ways to treat Thermophobia.

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.

* Hypnotherapy.

* 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 Thermophobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.

Thermophobia is an intense, irrational fear of heat. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Thermophobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal life, their social life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Thermophobia can have a devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life.

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