Simply stated, Chronophobia is the morbid and irrational fear of time. For the most part, time is not necessarily a feared object or concept on its own, but rather that it may being moving too fast, or that the individual is unable to comprehend it.
Chronophobia displays most often in the elderly or prison population (reasoning will be discussed further down). There are others, however, that can suffer from the phobia of time.
What are the symptoms of Chronophobia?
Symptoms of Chronophobia can present either as a direct effect of Chronophobia, itself, or as an effect of another condition caused by Chronophobia. First of all, symptoms of Chronophobia include extreme and persistent anxiety, a disturbed state of mind, inability to comprehend time (it seems to either speed up or slow down at abnormal rates), circular thought, racing thoughts, and symptoms also associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
In severe cases, a full blown panic attack may set in. Panic attacks are short states of extreme anxiety and/or depression, during which the sufferer experiences a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms of a panic attack include shaking or bodily convulsions, shortness of breath or general difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, rapid or irregular heart beat, loss of speech, tunnel vision, loss of vision, nausea, and vomiting.
What are the causes of Chronophobia?
Phobias, in general, can be caused by a variety of factors. Very often, phobias are caused by an association between the feared objects, in this case, time, and a traumatic event in one’s life. These traumatic events typically occur during childhood, but can happen during any point in someone’s life. The phobia of time can develop at any age.
There are also two others typical causes of Chronophobia, the first being the inability to track time. People in survival situations, like those that get lost on hikes, wreck on boating trips, etc. often suffer from Chronophobia, since they usually have no clue how long they have been missing. For some reason, the inability to keep track of time can cause higher anxiety in situations like this, leading to an extreme fear of time, itself. Prisoners also develop Chronophobia for this reason, being unable to track time in their bleak and dismal cells.
Another common cause of Chronophobia is the fear that time is limited. The elderly and people facing terminal illnesses are the ones that most often develop Chronophobia for this reason. At the point in one’s life, time truly is limited, and there is no way of telling how much is left. Of course, the elderly and the terminally ill are not the only ones that can develop Chronophobia.
How does one treat Chronophobia?
As with the previous two categories, treatment varies from person to person. Some of the more common treatments may not work for everyone, but they are a good place to start.
First of all, therapy is always a great option. Even if this does not necessarily get rid of the fear, it can help to understand the reasoning or cause behind it. Hypnosis, one on one therapy, group therapy, etc. can be very helpful in alleviating the fear or symptoms, and helping the sufferer cope with their situation.
Medications can also help to ease the anxiety, depression, or Obsessive-Compulsive tendencies that come with Chronophobia. Medications can also help take care of the symptoms of panic attacks, such as heart rate, breathing, etc.
Simple changes in ones life could also help to alleviate Chronophobia. For example, in those who fear time because of its limited qualities living a healthier life style (ex. changing diet or exercising more) could show them that they do have some control over how much time they have on Earth, even though they cannot control time, itself.