What is phobia?
Cibophobia is a general fear of food. It is considered a specific phobia, an anxiety disorder. People with this phobia are sometimes mistaken for anorexia, which is an eating disorder.
Anorexic patients are afraid of the effect of food on body image, while phobias are afraid of food itself. However, people can experience both diseases at the same time.
If you have a phobia, you will be extremely anxious about trigger foods. Symptoms of anxiety include irritability, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and constant worry.
You may be afraid of one specific food or multiple foods at a time. As a result of eating certain foods, you may have an above-average fear of illness or choking. Or, you may associate food with unpleasant or traumatic experiences.
Recognizing phobias can be difficult, especially if someone avoids certain foods for reasons other than fear (such as diet or lifestyle choices).
People with anorexia will take extreme measures to avoid the foods they fear. When they face food, they may experience panic attacks. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Hot flashes
- Feel dizzy
- Feel dizzy
- Chest tightness
- Fast heart rate
Although panic attacks usually go away on their own, they often feel life-threatening, leading to symptoms such as fear of losing control or fear of death.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) uses the following criteria to diagnose specific phobias:
- This fear is out of proportion to any real danger.
- This kind of fear will bring tremendous pressure and disturbance to people’s lives.
- The fear and its effects lasted for at least six months.
Cibophobia disrupts daily life. A person with a phobia may become particularly anxious in their workplace, for example, they may encounter someone eating a food they fear.
A person with a phobia may show avoidance behavior. This means that a person will prevent himself from touching the object of the phobia in any necessary way. They may stop buying groceries or stop going to restaurants—anywhere they might come into contact with the food they fear.
Although anorexia is not an eating disorder, someone may have both anorexia and eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, or normal eating disorder.
Cibophobia and eating disorders may be similar. Both of these conditions can lead to extreme anxiety about food and avoidance behavior.
However, people with anorphobia are afraid of the food itself, not the effect of food on their body image (such as weight gain).
If you have a phobia, you will know that your fear response and avoidance behavior are irrational. You know that the food you are afraid of will not cause any real harm to you, but you cannot overcome the fear.
The exact cause of the phobia is unclear. However, experts divide specific phobias into two categories: experiential specific phobias and non-experience specific phobias.
For experience-specific phobias, some people are afraid of certain things because of the traumatic experience. People with phobias may be forced to eat certain foods or become sick after eating foods they are now afraid of.
They may also be used to dislike certain foods. For example, parents may have instilled a fear of mushrooms in them.
People with anorexia may associate the foods they fear with unpleasant experiences or memories.
For non-experiential phobias, a person does not have any traumatic contact with the food they fear. In this case, experts believe that the phobia may be the result of genetic and brain chemical reactions. In other words, biology makes some people more susceptible to phobias.
Certain phobias are likely to coexist with other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Fear of food may start with discomfort related to food texture, expired or undercooked food. Some common foods that phobias fear include broccoli, mushrooms, cottage cheese, and pickles.
In the beginning, just a dislike of food and other untreated mental health conditions may develop phobias over time, leading to increased fear and interruption of daily life.
Research shows that untreated phobias may worsen over time. If you do not resolve your xenophobic symptoms, you may find it difficult to maintain social relationships, go to work, or perform tasks such as grocery shopping. Your avoidance behavior may become more extreme.
Over time, you may start to fear more types of food. You may even strictly restrict your diet, which will endanger your health. You may choose to go hungry instead of eating something related to fear.
The social stigma of phobias can also be challenging. You may find it difficult to hide your increasingly restricted eating habits. Your friends and relatives may suspect an eating disorder.
You may find it difficult or impossible to explain your phobia to others, which can cause you to become more isolated in society. This can lead to loneliness, anxiety, and even depression.
It is very important to seek treatment for fear of heights from a qualified mental health professional. The most common type of treatment for specific phobias is a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
The most common type of treatment for phobias and other anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy. Your therapist will work with you to discover and change your underlying beliefs about fear of food.
Systemic desensitization is another treatment used to treat phobias. It is similar to exposure therapy, but it also teaches you relaxation techniques to use when you are exposed to frightening foods. For example, if you are afraid of kimchi, the therapist may ask you to look at the photos of kimchi when you practice breathing exercises.
From there, you can practice imagining kimchi in the same room as you. Or, your therapist may use virtual reality (VR) to expose you to fear. Maybe you try to walk down the kimchi aisle in the grocery store. Over time, your goal may be to sit next to someone who is eating kimchi.
Remember, you are an expert in treating phobias. If you feel uncomfortable gradually coming into contact with the food you are afraid of, be sure to talk to your therapist, who can adjust your treatment.
Hypnotherapy is another option. Studies have shown that this may be effective in treating specific phobias. It allows practitioners to communicate with the patient’s subconscious mind to identify beliefs about their fears. From there, they will work with you to overcome these beliefs.
Your doctor can tell you which medicines might be right for you. Antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines (such as Xanax) are sometimes prescribed to people with specific phobias.
Medications like these may be able to treat the anxiety symptoms associated with your phobia. Your doctor may prescribe some medications for a limited time, and gradually reduce your medications when your anxiety drops to a manageable level.
Of course, if you have a health problem, or you are taking other prescription drugs that may be contraindicated, please be sure to communicate with your doctor. In addition, if you have substance use disorders, especially benzodiazepines, please tell your doctor because they may become addictive.
In addition to treatment and medication, lifestyle changes have been shown to relieve anxiety symptoms. For example, developing meditation practice has been shown to promote stress relief and relaxation.
Breathing exercises can also effectively reduce the symptoms of arousal, anger, anxiety and depression. Breathing in a controlled and conscious manner can help regulate your central nervous system and relieve the symptoms of stress caused by your phobia.
Coping with phobias or other mental health conditions can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you feel comfortable, you can confide in your loved ones. Research has also shown that participating in support groups for specific mental health conditions may have therapeutic effects.
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There are many factors that cause phobias, but know that there are some treatment options that can relieve your symptoms. If you find that your phobia is interfering with your daily life, especially if it prevents you from eating and getting proper nutrition, be sure to contact a healthcare professional immediately.