We live in a world obsessed with the image of youth and beauty . To a certain extent it is normal that no one wants to grow old, because as we get older, we lose physical faculties and our state of health becomes more vulnerable.

For many, old age can be a difficult time, as it is not easy to assume that the best years of our lives may have passed. But when there is an irrational fear of growing old, and that fear affects a person’s well-being, then we talk about ” Gerascophobia “.

Gerascophobia: what is it?

A phobia is an irrational fear that affects the quality of life of the person who suffers it , and causes the individual to suffer extreme anxiety. Gerascophobia is the fear of aging. People with this disorder, are horrified by the changes they suffer due to the passage of time . Some of the changes they fear are: becoming dependent on others, loss of mobility, the possibility of being placed in a nursing home, changes in appearance, or a gradual worsening of health status.

The term Gerascophobia is a combination of the Greek words γέρων – geron , which means “old man” and φόβος – phobos , which means “fear”.

Causes of Gerascophobia

Gerascophobia begins to develop in the mid-thirties, when signs of aging (such as wrinkles) begin to make an appearance. By becoming aware of these changes, the person suffering from this phobia begins to suffer from an anxiety disorder.

It seems that external factors such as the images shown in the media or the cultural value of youth, are responsible for the irrational beliefs of patients. On the other hand, it is possible that some traumatic event from the past is the cause of the development of the disorder . Finally, this condition may also develop due to the fear of being alone and defenseless in the last years of life.

Symptoms of Gerascophobia

The symptoms of Gerascophobia are no different than the symptoms of other types of phobia. Because Gerascophobia is an anxiety disorder, its symptoms are usually irrational fear and anxiety.

The following is a list of symptoms that may be caused by thoughts of aging or by seeing or having contact with older people.

  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Tachycardia
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to speak
  • Social isolation
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Detachment from reality
  • Chills
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Headache

Treatment of Gerascophobia

Although many people suffering from Gerascophobia may be aware of their irrational fear, they lack the capacity to overcome this pathology . In these cases, it is recommended to see a health professional if it is not possible to overcome it alone.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, affective desensitization or neurolinguistic programming (NLP) have proven to be very effective in overcoming phobic disorders. Although it is common to see a family doctor, it is advisable to see an expert with experience in treating phobias, as anxiety disorders and phobias should be treated with psychological therapy.