Fear of the Future(Chronophobia): Causes, Symptoms, Overcoming

Fear of the future or Chronophobia is defined as the persistent and often irrational fear of the future or the passage of time. Since time can be considered as a “specific object,” Chronophobia falls into the category of specific phobias. The word Chronophobia is derived from the Greek ‘Chronos’ which means time and phobos which means fear.

The question of time has always puzzled humanity: many writers, philosophers, scientists, and social critics have tried to investigate its elusive nature. In the case of persistent Chronophobia, the patient develops an extreme fear of spending time on it; Suddenly, you feel that the present moment will soon pass into the past, and this thought may terrify you. The phobic becomes obsessed with time; you are highly anxious so much that it affects your daily functioning. Phobia affects mainly the prisoners, the elderly, or people who already suffer from various anxiety disorders.

You can also read Fear of Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Overcoming.

Causes of chronophobia

The causes of fear of future phobia vary significantly from person to person. Most experts believe that a highly stressful or traumatic event can suddenly trigger phobia.

  • Chronophobia, as mentioned above, can appear suddenly. Sometimes, even a simple benign comment like “Time passes so fast” can trigger this phobia in someone who already suffers from certain anxiety disorders.
  • Depression is one of the primary triggers for this phobia. A person can turn 40 and suddenly feel empty: it is when children usually leave the nest, and one begins to feel empty, useless, or feel that they are not contributing in any way.
  • Loss of employment, the death of a loved one, divorce, or separation can also sometimes trigger Chronophobia.
  • With time come the afflictions of old age and the inevitability of death.
  • Women who undergo menopause are more prone to fear future phobia.
  • The phobia is also related to adrenal insufficiency, hormonal imbalance, surgery, certain medical conditions like thyroid, heart disease, etc.
  • Inmates serving for long periods also have Chronophobia, as they often lose their sense of time and reality. This condition is called prison neurosis and is often accompanied by claustrophobia (due to the confined space of prison cells).
  • Sometimes even a traumatic event in childhood can trigger this phobia.
  • Chronophobia can also be hereditary or genetic.

Symptoms of fear of the future

Chronophobia affects different people differently. A young man who has this phobia, for example, might suddenly drop out of college, where most people his age are busy preparing for their future. Chronophobia typically experiences various physical and emotional symptoms, including:

  • I was feeling detached from reality.
  • Have a complete panic attack when thinking about the passage of time: shortness of breath, heart palpitations and dizziness, fainting, excessive sweating, and generally feeling completely out of control.
  • Feeling lost, not knowing what to do, often embarrassing yourself in front of others.
  • Feeling of running away, crying, shaking.
  • Having overwhelming thoughts about death and dying
  • Being unable to express yourself clearly

Overcome the phobia

  • Many self-help techniques and specialized treatments are available to help alleviate the severe anxiety accompanying Chronophobia.
  • Hypnotherapy is one of those therapies that has yielded positive results and has even been approved by the American Medical Association to treat various mental disorders.
  • Another form of psychotherapy, NLP, or neurolinguistic programming, is a proven therapy to overcome the fear of future phobia. A skilled practitioner can help the phobic “fix” his preconceptions about time and the future.
  • Other mind-body techniques to overcome this phobia are Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama (the ancient Hindu practice of deep breathing), Tai Chi, etc. Prisoners who have participated in Art Of Living / Vipassana guided meditation courses have significantly benefited from such programs.
  • Having one or two pets has been proven to be very therapeutic. Phobics are also urged to lead an active lifestyle where possible, as this can help increase endorphins or “feel good about hormones.”
  • Activities like social work, gardening, teaching, volunteering for social causes, etc. They can also help one feel “more valuable” and clear the mind of fear of future phobia.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.