Pocrescophobia is the morbid and irrational fear of gaining weight. This is also comparable to Obesophobia, the fear of becoming fat or being obese.
This phobia often stems from other psychological issues, which will be discussed further down. It is most often people who are pressured to be fit and thin that develop this phobia, such as aesthetic athletes (ex. dancers, cheerleaders, ice skaters, etc.). This phobia is usually seen in women, although many men have this phobia as well.
Symptoms of Pocrescophobia
Symptoms of Pocrescophobia will vary from one person to the next, depending upon their state of mind, level of fear, and various personality characteristics. General symptoms, though, include avoidance of food, obsession with weight loss, avoidance of scales, guilt when eating, and not feeling hungry.
Pocrescophobia could also lead to the develop of various eating disorders, namely Bulimia nervosa or Anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is a condition where the person overeats and then purges immediately after, usually by self-induced vomiting. Anorexia, on the other hand, is a condition where the person simply does not eat. Both of these could also be coupled with excessive exercise.
If a person with Pocrescophobia happens to find out that they have gained weight, even just the smallest amount, they may begin to suffer from a panic attack. Panic attacks are states of extreme terror and anxiety which also include rapid heart rate, breathing difficulties, weakness, fainting, dizziness, tingling or numbness, excessive sweating, chills, feeling a loss of control, and chest pain.
Causes of Pocrescophobia
Causes of Pocrescophobia can be very tricky, and will be different from one individual to another. Again, Pocrescophobia often occurs alongside an eating disorder, such as Bulimia or Anorexia. While the phobia can lead to these conditions, some people are also psychologically predisposed to developing them. For these people, the phobia of gaining weight is very likely to occur.
Trauma is also a reason why people develop phobias, although less so with phobias of this nature. However, it is possible. A person who develops Pocrescophobia due to a past trauma could have experienced a massive amount of weight gain, or witnessed someone close to them experience this. Obesity is also a cause of numerous other health problems, and even death in some cases. Someone who experienced the death of a loved one because of gaining weight will be terrified of getting to the state, themselves.
Low self-esteem could also be the cause of Pocrescophobia. In today’s society, beauty is marked by how thin someone is. For those people who really buy into these messages, they will be terrified of gaining weight in relation to the fear of being deemed “undesirable”.
Treatments will also vary from person to person. Typically, therapy is a great go to. Various forms of therapy can help get to the bottom of the phobia, as well as treat it. Social therapy is also a great method for building self-esteem.
Medication is useful for treating anxiety, as well as other symptoms (ex. rapid heart rate, breathing difficulties, etc.). This can be taken on a daily basis or just during a panic attack.
Lastly, rehabilitation centers for eating disorders are a great way to combat Pocrescophobia. These centers offer a warm and comforting environment to those who fear gaining weight or have low self-esteem.