Do you have an extreme fear of growing old You might have gerascophobia!
Gerascophobia: the irrational and persistent fear of growing old.
The word comes from the Greek geraso, meaning “I am getting old.” The fear could be based on the thought of losing control, living in a nursing home, death, etc. Gerascophobia is commonly associated with gerontophobia.
Gerontophobia has a few different definitions:
- irrational and persistent fear of growing old,
- hatred or anger toward the elderly, or
- fear of the elderly.
Everyone has experienced or does experience a fear of growing old and facing one’s own mortality, but only people with gerascophobia become horrified and obsessed with the idea.
Symptoms of gerascophobia and gerontophobia:
- persistent thoughts about dying
- breathlessness, sweating, anxiety and panic attacks when thinking about growing old
- shaking, shivering, palpatations, and rapid breathing
- obsessive fear about losing one’s appearance with time
- obsessive fear about a loss of independence in older age
- self-withdrawal and isolation from others
While I could not find any solid studies on gerascophobia (contact me if you know of any), it is understood that women make up the majority of cases, and that the symptoms often set in when the individual reaches his/her early to mid-30s. This would be the time a person is recognizing that their youth is slipping away, and they become faced with fears of inferiority, loss of identity and self-worth, etc. Modern culture, with its focus and value of youth and beauty, encourages and supports this phobia.
Treatment for Gerascophobia
Gerascophobia can be treated using in a variety of different ways. Professional therapists and counselors have been known to use treatments such as exposure therapy, energy therapy, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, and even medications.
The phobia is assumed to be widely unreported and more common than most people think. If you or someone you know suffers from this phobia to the point it is impacting quality of life – seek help.