Fear of Fear
Updated: Feb 26
Situations we are exposed in life can make us fearful, often causing high levels of emotional arousal and panic sensations .
These feelings are scary and can frighten us making it difficult to enter similar situations in the future. We may start avoiding doing things or going in to situations which we think might trigger the fear again and so build up images of monsters lurking in the shadows.
We distance ourselves from these situations making it worse when we try to go back in to these situations in the future.
An example might be after a traumatic car accident, returning to driving might be feared in case of it happening again. A fear of driving, being a passenger, returning to the accident site and fear of the unpredictability of other drivers may all contribute to avoidance behaviours. Nightmares and brooding on what happened may contribute to the distress experience. As time goes on and if driving continues to be avoided, difficulties become compounded leading to the doubting of ones driving skills and ability. A fear of motorway driving and certain vehicles approaching is commonplace adding to negative forecasts.
The experience itself and the biological symptoms adding to the fear equation. The loss of control disabling the individual still further. Although the example given is of fear in relation to a road traffic accident, this style of thinking is common in relation to feared events.
A fear of public speaking, intrusive thoughts, social situations, health fears can all trigger a fear/panic response which can then lead to a fear of having fear symptoms back again. ' FEAR OF FEAR' rather than the situation itself, becoming hyper-vigilant and scanning the body for panic symptoms.
The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy approach includes increasing exposure to the feared situation, sticking with it until the anxiety naturally subsides, without running away or avoiding these difficult and anxiety provoking situations.