According to Wikipedia, a phobia is defined as a type of anxiety disorder that is caused by a persistent and excessive fear of any object or situation or condition. There are many types of phobia you may come across like tokophobia, androphobia, and basophobia. The most common phobia around the world as recorded over the past years is arachnophobia which is the fear of spiders. Now, here comes the main part of the article. You have heard a lot about phobias and its types or classifications. There are a lot of examples, but have you heard of Tomophobia? Do you know what tomophobia is? Let us learn about what it is, how it is caused, and other information about this phobia.
What is Tomophobia?
Tomophobia, in simple language, is the fear of medical procedures. There are some divisions under this phobia and this can be classified as fear of doctors, fear of dental work, and fear of surgery. It is neglected initially when observed, but it can affect a person’s mental health if this phobia rises at extreme levels. This phobia is also known as “blood-injection-injury” phobia.
When is it a phobia?
This is a kind of phobia that is initially neglected until the right time comes. And the right time is some kind of serious surgery or a surgical check-up. Tomophobia is recognized as a rare phobia. This is the reason why this is a rare known phobia. It defines itself as a phobia when it appears in people fearing surgeries or in the extreme case when people start skipping consulting doctors in the fear to have acquired an acute disease that needs surgery. Doctors also call this “blood-injection-injury” phobia because patients suffering from this phobia sometimes faint when they see blood or even think about the surgery sometimes, though it is a rare case.
What are the symptoms of tomophobia?
There are several symptoms of phobias. It may vary from person to person. Some common symptoms are experiencing fear, feeling anxious, and sweating heavily. There are some less-discussed symptoms too for tomophobia. They are as follows:
- Hot and cold flushes
- Shortness of breath
- Fear of losing control
- A pounding heart
- Felling choked
Fear of fainting is also a symptom of tomophobia. But studies show that not all patients suffering from tomophobia faint. A research was conducted with 20 civilians having tomophobia among which only 9 civilians fainted on the sight of blood, but the others did not faint. It was proved that fainting was not a common symptom of this phobia.
What causes Tomophobia?
There is no particular record or study where the actual cause of tomophobia is mentioned. There was a case study on a person suspected to have tomophobia. The doctors found out that he had the fear of surgery because he had received a lot of pain after one of his surgeries. Another man of 69 years was suspected of having tomophobia because he refused his surgery. He reported a 20-year-old history of one of his surgeries which had never done because he never wanted to leave himself on the hands of the surgeons and anesthetists. Due to which he had a 4.5 cm shorter left leg than his right leg. The doctors found out that he had no previous records of psychiatric treatments or mental illness or traumas.
So, we can come to the conclusion that tomophobia can be caused by previous failed surgeries that cause trauma or it can also be caused by mental illness. Sometimes, this phobia is inherited as it was seen that the father of the 69-year-old man had the same trauma of surgery.
How can it be diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosis is not very difficult in this case, but being sure about the phobia is definitely difficult. Every individual has a fear of surgery as they do not know what will happen to them at the table of surgery. They have to totally depend on the doctors and trust them. So, not all individual has tomophobia. Now, the question is how will you understand a person close to you is suffering from tomophobia or not? Let us see an example, a famous YouTuber’s father suffered from tomophobia which was unknown to him. He had a cardiac problem and was suggested to visit his physician, but he refused. Later he was forced to visit the cardiologist. The patient was asked to have a thallium stress test, but he refused. One week later, he dies. This example is a real-life example and not a story. A person having tomophobia will always refuse to have checkups and tests and surgeries even after knowing the consequences of having getting cured.
The only treatment of this phobia is psychiatric therapies, which may cure a person temporarily. The psychopathological findings at the time of psychiatric exploration can limit the intense fear of the forthcoming surgical procedures and interventions. A psychotropic treatment with escitalopram 10 mg once a day and pregabalin 150 mg twice a day has helped some patients to improve their intense fear when being confronted with the problem of any urgent surgery. The patients who were treated with these medicines reported an improvement in the fears of tomophobia they had. But there is something you need to know. Phobiacan only is cured with regular practice of facing your fears. As in the case of tomophobic patients, doctors may try exposure therapy. This helps the patient to gradually get used to his/her fears. Doctors may start by showing them pictures of surgeries and then gradually showing them videos of surgery so that they start to build their own support when they face real situations. Studies are being conducted to know and gather more information about tomophobia. Scientists and doctors believe that they will come up with better treatments in the upcoming years for this phobia.
How common is tomophobia?
Studies reveal that almost 60% of people are afraid of dental surgeries among which 4% of people have never been to a dentist due to their fear. 3.5% of people are actually tomophobic to surgeries and most of them do not face proper treatment as they are ashamed of themselves.
You can overcome any phobia, do not lose hope on yourself and keep trying. Try consulting doctors and psychologists if you feel your fear is getting you into trouble.