Overcoming Agraphobia: Quality Information That Provides Results

Last Updated
December 19, 2023

What Is Agraphobia?
Causes
Symptoms
Treatment
Helpful Products

What Is Agraphobia?
Agraphobia, also known as Contreltophobia, is a special kind of fear. People with this fear are really scared of sexual abuse or rape. This fear is so strong that it makes them very anxious and upset.

Causes of Agraphobia
- Being forced to sit on an adult's lap when not wanting to
- Sharing a bath or shower with an adult when not wanting to
- Accidental touching of body parts through clothing by an adult-
- Unwarranted affection from an adult
- Witnessing incidences of sexual abuse
- Being a victim of sexual abuse
- Experiences such as bereavement, divorce, or job loss can trigger the onset of this phobia
- Mental illnesses like depression, anorexia nervosa, or bulimia may increase the risk of
developing Agraphobia
- Misuse of substances

Symptoms of Agraphobia
- Perspiring
- Shaking
- Feeling overheated or experiencing cold flashes
- Breathing rapidly or struggling to breathe
- Feeling like you're choking
- Fast pulse
- Chest discomfort or constriction
- Feeling like there are fluttering sensations in your abdomen
- Upset stomach
- Experiencing headaches or a sense of unsteadiness
- Light-headedness
- Tingling or numb sensations
- Dryness in the mouth
- Frequent urge to use the restroom
- Hearing a buzzing sound in your ears
- Feeling puzzled or losing a sense of direction

Treatment of Agraphobia
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Antidepressants
- Anti-Anxiety Medications
- Relaxation Techniques
- Lifestyle Modifications
- Support Groups
- Self-Help Strategies
- Desensitization or Exposure Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Virtual Reality Therapy

Are you struggling with the overwhelming sensations associated with Agraphobia? This condition, characterized by an intense fear of certain environments or situations, can significantly hinder one's ability to live afulfilling life.

In our pursuit of understanding and overcoming Agraphobia, it's crucial to arm ourselves with reliable and practical information. Through this blog, we aim to provide insights into the nature of Agraphobia, its causes, symptoms, and the most effective treatment strategies available.

Origins Of The Word 'Agraphobia'

The word agraphobia has its origins in the Greek words for:-

  • Agra means something caught or trapped
  • Phobos means fear or having an aversion to

There is a marked difference between fear and phobia.[1]

Fear Can Be Both Rational & Irrational

Fear can be 2 different kinds. Fear can manifest in two distinct types: Rational fear and irrational fear. Rational fear arises from tangible threats, like the danger of cars on a busy street where kids play. In contrast, irrational fear stems from unlikely scenarios, such as the notion of drowning in a shower. Sometimes, fear encompasses aspects of both. When fear becomes overwhelming, possibly signaling anxiety disorders or mental health conditions, seeking medical advice is beneficial.[2]

Rational Fear

Imagine you are awoman with ahistory of previous sexual abuse, indicative of intense fear and anxiety disorders. You're waiting for an elevator in amulti-story building. When it arrives, alone man inside invites you in.

You decline, your refusal rooted in a rational fear amplified by your history. The man, unaware of your past and mental health struggles, perceives this as a personal affront, leading to an uncomfortable situation. This incident could trigger a panic attack, characterized by excessive fear and symptoms like excessive sweating.

To manage the situation and avoid stress, you resort to anger management techniques learned from previous stressful life events and therapy for mental health disorders. You calmly exit, reaching for your panic disorder medication.

Considering your background and the risk factors involved, your reaction is entirely rational. It's a protective response informed by your fear of sexual abuse, a common issue in mental health conditions. In this context, you might be diagnosed with Agoraphobia, amental health disorder related to excessive worry and fear in certain environments.[3]

A woman with wide eyes and a tense expression in a post about agraphobia

An irrational fear

Irrational fears differ fundamentally from rational fears. The latter are responses to real dangers, like injuries from falls or snake bites. Irrational fears, however, are often about benign situations. They can become so pervasive that they disrupt normal living.

These fears frequently originate from traumatic childhood events. For instance, a dog scare in childhood might lead to a lifelong cautious approach around dogs. But when the fear escalates to the point of avoiding all outdoor activities to evade dogs, it transforms into an irrational fear. Such fears can be directed at seemingly harmless objects or situations, like balloons or sleeping, and are often indicative of other phobias.

The defining characteristic of these fears is their disproportionate impact on one's life, often without any real justification.[4]

What Is Agraphobia?

Agraphobia, also known as Contreltophobia, is aspecial kind of fear. People with this fear are really scared of sexual abuse or rape. This fear is so strong that it makes them very anxious and upset. Because of this, they might avoid places or situations where they feel scared, even if there's no real danger.

This fear can really change how someone lives. It's more than just being careful; it's afear that can stop them from doing normal things. It's important for these people to get help from a doctor or therapist. These experts can help them feel less scared and live a better life.[5]

Prevalence of Agraphobia?

As adults we have the capacity to identify and avoid potentially abusive situations, therefore agraphobia is more prevalent among children and teenagers who do not have that same capacity. In most cases, adults with agraphobia have mentally carried over a sexually traumatic event from their childhood or teenage years.

A young woman hiding behind her legs in a post about agraphobia

Causes of Agraphobia

  • Being forced to sit on an adult's lap when not wanting to
  • Sharing a bath or shower with an adult when not wanting to
  • Accidental touching of body parts through clothing by an adult
  • Unwarranted affection from an adult
  • Witnessing incidences of sexual abuse
  • Being a victim of sexual abuse
  • Experiences such as bereavement, divorce, or job loss can trigger the onset of this phobia
  • Mental illnesses like depression, anorexia nervosa, or bulimia may increase the risk of developing agraphobia
  • Misuse of substances[6][7]

Genes or Heredity

Twin studies conducted by our group have found phobias in adults to be moderately heritable (30–40%), with phobia subtypes having overlapping genetic and environmental influences as well as subtype-specific factors.[8]This suggests that, for reasons that are genetic, some individuals are more prone to mental disorders, anxiety attacks, or even severe panic attacks than others.

When trying to explain the reasons for their repeated panic attacks, anxiety disorders, or behaviors that are not easily understood by others, an adult with aphobia might attribute it to genetic factors and family history. They often express uncertainty about the causes of their actions, saying, "I don't know why I did that. It very possibly has something to do with my genes and my family history or heredity."

A woman being robbed in a post about agraphobia

Mental Health and Anxiety Disorder - a Double-Edged Sword of Concern

People with agraphobia often feel very embarrassed during apanic attack. They try hard to avoid situations that might be embarrassing. This makes their friends and family worried about their mental health. This worry has two sides.

Firstly, loved ones want to help. They encourage the person with agraphobia to get professional help for their anxiety and mental health issues.

But, there's another side. This push for help can make the person with agraphobia even more determined not to feel embarrassed. They think, "If I don't get embarrassed, they won't say I need help." So, they start avoiding normal activities to prevent panic attacks and stress.

By doing this, they hope to escape embarrassing moments. But this actually makes their family and friends more insistent on them seeking professional help. This cycle continues, with the person with agraphobia trying to avoid embarrassment and others urging them to get help.

Stress

Stress very easily develops into one of many other phobias, of which agraphobia is one.[9] To help you manage your stress, we suggest Stress Balls or Goodbye Stress Softgels.

A fearful woman hiding from her abuser in a post about agraphobia

Movies and the Media

Movies, printed media, and access to porn all play apart in the causes of agraphobia among children and teenagers. Children and teenagers constantly hearing or seeing stories related to sexual abuse is amajor contributing factor in them developing agraphobia.[10]

The Symptoms of Agraphobia

Aside from the mental symptoms, an adult phobic will go to great lengths to avoid what others might think of as being normal physical behavior of a couple in a serious romantic relationship.

Among adults, this illogical extreme fear of an intimate activity inevitably results in a reduced frequency of consensual sex[11]. To learn more about toxic relationships, we suggest reading Relationship Red Flags You Should Know.

Children and teenagers will show their fears by going to great lengths to avoid being in the company of specific adults. This misunderstood behavior is the cause of much family friction, especially if the abuser is a relative or family friend.

In severe cases, those with agraphobia or contreltophobia may experience any number of the following physical symptoms:-

  1. Perspiring
  2. Shaking
  3. Feeling overheated or experiencing cold flashes
  4. Breathing rapidly or struggling to breathe
  5. Feeling like you're choking
  6. Fast pulse
  7. Chest discomfort or constriction
  8. Feeling like there are fluttering sensations in your abdomen
  9. Upset stomach
  10. Experiencing headaches or asense of unsteadiness
  11. Light-headedness
  12. Tingling or numb sensations
  13. Dryness in the mouth
  14. Frequent urge to use the restroom
  15. Hearing abuzzing sound in your ears
  16. Feeling puzzled or losing asense of direction[12]

Very severe cases of these symptoms often result in a full-blown panic attack. Those who constantly experience panic attacks can develop depression. Depression can eventually can lead to psychiatric treatment and or hospitalization.

As a parent with a pre-pubescent child, look for the visible warning flags.

  • Bedwetting.
  • Constantly tearful or crying.
  • Lack of interest in anything that was previously enjoyable or exciting to do.
  • Avoiding friends and family.
  • A noticeable drop in grades at school[13]
Young woman hiding in a corner in a post about agraphobia

Treating Agraphobia In Young Children

When a kid has a phobia, their treatment depends on how old they are, how they feel, and how serious the phobia is. Phobias can get better! Here's what might help a kid:

  1. Therapy Just for Them: This helps kids learn how to handle scary feelings and panic, in case it happens. We suggest online therapy for convenience.
  2. Family Therapy: Mom, dad, or other family members are super important in getting better.
  3. Help at School: Talking with teachers and school counselors can spot a phobia early. They can work together to make a plan that helps the kid at school.
  4. Medicine: Sometimes, medicine can make kids feel less panicked or scared. But, it's important to know about any side effects and why the medicine is needed.

Each kid is different, so their treatment might be different too. The goal is to help them feel less scared and more confident.[14]

Agraphobia Prevalence and Treatment in a table

Treating a Teenager or Young Adult

Here, the signals that your teenage son or daughter has been sexually abused are likely to be more pronounced. They will be angry, frustrated, embarrassed, and want to be left alone. They may even be signs of drug abuse.

You have to get them to talk. Go for walks together. Go for a drink together.

Get them to talk. Once they admit they have been sexually abused, suggest a self-help option to treat agraphobia and irrational thoughts. These self-help treatment methods can vary between:-

  • Meditation - getting into a meditative state is excellent for calming the mind.
  • A thought diary - keeping a record of their feelings daily.
  • Group discussions.
  • Positive visualization.
  • Hypnosis.
  • A daily workout -exercising is excellent for relieving stress and frustration.

If none of this works, then seek professional help. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing, and the abuse is left untreated. This results in a panic disorder requiring anti-anxiety drugs as treatment.

Not All Agraphobics Have Been Sexually Abused

Learned Response

Phobia can manifest as learned responses. If achild gets told often enough that spiders are dangerous, that child will soon build up alifelong irrational fear of all spiders, even the harmless ones. (arachnophobia- afear of spiders).[15]

Good Touching & Bad Touching

Teaching kids about 'good touch' and 'bad touch' is really important for keeping them safe. It helps them know the difference between kind, loving touch, which is good for them and makes them feel safe, and touch that is not okay, making them uncomfortable or scared. This way, kids learn about personal space and can tell if someone's behavior is wrong.[16]

Some people think that teaching this stuff might scare kids too much, but that's not true. It's really important to teach kids about these things in a way that's right for their age. It helps them feel in charge of their own bodies and know how to set limits. This doesn't mean they will be scared of all touch or get the wrong idea about nice gestures. It just means they'll know what's safe and what's not.

Parents sometimes worry about their kids being touched by adults who aren't their parents. But not all touch is bad. Parents have abig job to talk openly and teach their kids about this in away that's right for their age. This helps kids understand how to be careful with touching, while still enjoying hugs and affection.[17]

Conclusion

There is no specific treatment to cure Agraphobia.

The treatment options we have, can at best help to relieve the symptoms of agraphopbia. These treatments vary between cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic medications.

Exposure therapy is another commonly employed therapy wherein the patient, over the duration of the treatment is exposed to their phobia for short periods of time, and in this way gradually comes to accept those specific situations pose no danger to them and they have no rational reason to fear for their safety.

FAQ

Is sexual abuse and domestic abuse the same thing?

No. Sexual abuse is any non-consensual sexual activity such as rape, child sexual abuse, or sexual harassment. It can also be both verbal and physical. Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, or financial. It generally takes place within a close relationship or partners living together, or family members.

Can sexual abuse trigger early puberty?

Yes. Sexually abused girls reach puberty before their peers.

Can sexual abuse make you hypersexual?

Sexual abuse at any age may predict hypersexuality. However, the association is stronger in men who have experienced sexual abuse earlier in their lives.

References

  1. very well mind: Differences Between Fear and Phobia Responses
  2. Health Research Policy: Rational vs. Irrational Fear
  3. Fearof: Fear of Sexual Abuse Phobia
  4. the awareness centre: What is an Irrational Fear and How Can I Overcome One?
  5. Drlogy: What is Contreltophobia?
  6. NHS: Causes - Agoraphobia
  7. MSN: Agoraphobia
  8. Pubmed: The Genetic and Environmental Structure of Fear and Anxiety in Juvenile Twins
  9. Mind: Phobias
  10. digital wellness lab: Fear and Anxiety
  11. focus on the family: SEXUAL TRAUMA AND ITS EFFECT ON MARRIAGE
  12. NHS: Symptoms - Phobias
  13. Rainn:Warning Signs for Young Children
  14. nation wide childrens: Phobias in Children
  15. Mind: Phobias
  16. the premia academy: Good Touch Vs Bad Touch
  17. WIRC-CAA: Safe and Unsafe Touches

⚠️ Disclaimer: The content of this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Consult a qualified health professional for any medical concerns.

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