Osmophobia is the morbid and irrational fear of migraines or headaches. Of course, nobody enjoy having a migraine or headache. It is pain, and on some level everyone is afraid of pain. However, people with Osmophobia take this fear to the extreme. Their perception of pain is much greater than the average person’s and so is their fear.
Symptoms of Osmophobia
Symptoms of Osmophobia will vary from person to person, depending on their level of fear and various personality characteristics. The main symptom, though, is general anxiety of developing a migraine or headache. Furthermore, when a person with Osmophobia develops a migraine or headache their perception of the pain is far greater than that in those who do not fear them. They can also have many more triggers (things that cause the headaches or migraines) than those without the fear. The anxiety in itself can even be a trigger.
Also, if a person with Osmophobia gets a headache or migraine, they may go into a full blown panic attack. These are heightened states of anxiety or terror that come along with their own set of symptoms. These include rapid heart rate, chest pain, breathing difficulties, weakness, fainting, dizziness, feeling a loss of control, excessive sweating, chills, and tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers.
Causes of Osmophobia
Just like with symptoms, causes of Osmophobia can differ from one person to the next. A majority of phobias are caused by trauma, which usually occurs during childhood. Although this is less common with Osmophobia, it is possible that a traumatic event induced the fear of headaches and migraines. For instance, a person who got a concussion will experience severe migraines for several days or even weeks. Perhaps this experience could lead that person to fear ever experiencing that pain again.
Other people could have a migraine disorder, which causes them to get migraines very frequently. These migraines are severe, causing extreme pain, dizziness, and even nausea or vomiting. Knowing how awful the experience is could lead to the extreme fear of migraines.
Also, again, nobody really enjoys pain. Migraines are horrific and unpleasant for anyone. It is not unusual for someone to fear them. However, due to mental or emotional instability, some people let this fear go too far and develop into a legitimate phobia.
Lastly, phobias can occur for any reason. A person may simply have the fear of headaches without any direct cause.
Treatments of Osmophobia
Proper treatment depends on the individual. Many people will respond to therapy, although this is less helpful in the case of Osmophobia. Therapy can be used to treat and better understand the anxiety that comes with migraines, but that is about it.
On the other hand, treating the migraines directly will help to both alleviate the headaches and diminish the fear of them. For example, pain medication is very useful in treating chronic migraine sufferers. It can also help reduce other common symptoms associated with migraines, such as dizziness or nausea. Relaxation techniques also help to treat both anxiety and the migraines directly. These include yoga, exercise, sleep, change in diet, structured breathing techniques, and more.