February 25, 2021
Pain is not pleasant, and a fear of pain is not unreasonable. That said, patients who suffer from algophobia have an abnormal or disproportionate fear of pain. They are often unable to function normally in situations that trigger their fears and can become irritable or irrational. This can be problematic when it comes to getting any type of health care, especially dental care.
What is algophbia?
Patients with algophobia have an excessive and often debilitating fear of pain. People suffering from this phobia often have anxiety-based behaviors and reactions that are automatic and uncontrollable. The phobia often leads to extreme measures to avoid pain, and these people rarely venture out or participate in situations where pain could be a likely consequence. And unfortunately, the behaviors they employ for safety often have a paradoxical effect. Instead of working to solve the phobia, they actually reinforce it. Some factors that might contribute to algophobia include hypersensitivity or a link to traumatic events.
What are the signs and symptoms of algophobia?
The symptoms of algophobia are similar to other phobias and include:
• Panic attacks
• Inability to relax
• Poor quality of sleep
• Impending sense of dread
• Difficulty concentrating
• Inability to think clearly
• Poor quality of sleep
• Prickling sensations
• Excessive sweating
• Aches and pains
• Dry mouth
Is there treatment for algophobia?
Treatment for any phobia should be left to mental health care professionals. Patients should educate themselves and explore a combination of options to treat algophbia and anxiety. The goal of treatment should be identifying the root of the phobia and the cause of the patient’s extreme fear. Then professionals can recommend treatments and therapies to deal with the symptoms of the condition.
In some cases, relaxation exercises can put patients at ease. Another approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which aims to alter negative thoughts and actions. With psychotherapy, therapists can help the patient come to terms with the traumatic experiences, explain how fear may be unfounded, and discuss options to cope with the symptoms. This treatment option has a high success rate. Other methods might include exposure therapy that allows the patient to rationalize and control their reactions. Mental health professionals might also recommend prescription anti-anxiety medications to help ease stress during necessary healthcare appointments.
Helping dental patients with algophobia
While not everyone likes going to the dentist, for some patients the problem runs deeper because it stems from serious aglophobia. These patients can be irritable and uncooperative in the dental chair. Or they may avoid visiting the dentist altogether, putting their health at risk. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that can help. And open communication and understanding will go a long way.
The key to coping with phobias and anxiety is to openly discuss fears and concerns. Once the dentist understands the barriers they can work with phobic patients to determine the best way to provide treatment. Relaxation techniques are a common resource. Distractions like movies or music is another way to ease anxiety. But the most important thing is education about the advanced technologies that help make dental treatments virtually pain-free.