Erythrophobia is the fear of blushing. It is a specific phobia and a complex one as well.
Blushing is a physiological response that occurs due to vasodilation of some of the veins of the face. It is a response to anxiety. Therefore, posing difficulty within itself, because as anxious the person will get, the more he will experience his object of fear.
It occurs automatically and does not subside, as physiologically it remains there for some time. It is similar to the Autonomic Nervous System where upon anxiety our bodies are flooded by epinephrine that instigate a fight or flight response. This response also makes the blood rush to the face, thus in turn initiating blushing.
This in turns leads to a never-ending cycle of blushing, the very fear stimulus for the sufferer.
People who suffer from Erythrophobia may also suffer from social phobia, this fear arising from the embarrassment of drawing attention to oneself. They might further develop Agoraphobia and will limit his social and occupational activities.
The person suffering from Erythrophobia has negative thoughts about the misperception about himself by others. This leads to anxiousness and embarrassment. The person finds himself in anticipatory anxiety where he may dread a situation where blushing might occur.
Symptoms of Erythrophobia
Phobias limit the daily activities. Panic like symptoms are common in all phobias, including this one as well. The onset of symptoms is very sudden and take the sufferer by surprise.
They may occur at the mere mention of a word depicting the fear, an image of teenagers and youth.
The physical symptoms of Erythrophobia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Sensation of Choking
- Tightness in the chest
- Dry mouth
- Feeling faint
The psychological symptoms of Erythrophobia include:
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dread
- dreading social gatherings
- Dreading public speaking
Causes of Erythrophobia
1. Genetic Predisposition
Anxiety and related phobias have a significant genetic basis according to Genome Biol. 2003; If a person is suffering from Erythrophobia then chances are that there might be an anxiety disorder of one form or another running in the family.
There is a high prevalence rate of the existence in a person to develop phobias, depression and anxieties if someone in the family is already suffering from it.
It could also be that the person is already suffering from a mental or psychological disorder prior to his developing this phobia. There have been cases where the presence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) brought on severe symptoms of Erythrophobia.
2. Previous Disturbing Experience
It may have happened that the sufferer had experienced a failed public speaking trauma that led him to embarrassment in front of his class fellows or colleagues, or another incident that may have caused high levels of embarrassment. To avoid these in future a fear developed of blushing itself.
There is a natural tendency in humans to not show any signs of weakness to others. Blushing or trembling are seen as signs of ineptness since evolution.
Treatments of Ephebiphobia
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatment for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Ephebiphobia is defined as the irrational fear of youth. Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about being exposed to teenagers. Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation or color. The ABCD stands for:
• A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
• B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
• C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
• D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP)
It is a psychological approach that includes ways of trying to reach a personal goal. It links language, thoughts and patterns of behavior learned through experience.
The key elements of NLP are action, modeling and effective communication. It suggests that everyone have different ways of how they see the world. By understanding a number of perspectives of others, patients who use NLP see the world through a combination of their personal views and that of others.
NLP therapists treat patients with Erythrophobia by making them understand their thoughts, behaviors and emotional state. By having an insight of the patients own ‘personal’ view of reality, they assist them in forming new, positive thoughts.
NLP helps the patient in improving his state of thoughts about other people by understanding their cognitive-behavioral patterns. Like CBT, this form of therapy is also very effective.
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders. It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks. People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear. In the case of Erythrophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of teenagers. They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Ephebiphobia (or any other kind of specific phobia). In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time. Like he can be shown pictures of a debate or an event that has the client as the focal person
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels being in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses. Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to a real situation in which he is expected to speak publicly.
While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of fear causing stimuli during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises. These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear/anxiety causing situation. This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patients fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of people, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, is used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions. Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions, lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process. This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation, 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Erythrophobia. Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic. However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Anti-anxiety Drugs
Medicines like Valium are anti-anxiety drugs. They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
ii. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggest don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias. Medicines like Lexapro reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm. They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you treat Erythrophobia?
Erythrophobia is treated with psychological treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.
- What does Erythrophobia mean?
Medical Definition of Erythrophobia
Erythrophobia is a persistent fear of blushing. Sufferers of erythrophobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational
- Is there a cure for blushing?
Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is an operation to cure severe facial blushing.
- How can I stop going red when nervous?
You can stop blushing by
altering your thoughts
- Why do I blush when someone talks to me?
Blushing is a reaction that is activated by our potential embarrassment and humiliation, and involves social anxiety feelings. When you are self-conscious and have a fear of being the center of attention.
Titles to Read From
- Blushing Breakthrough: How to Stop Blushing and Conquer Social Anxiety by Jim Baker | Mar 16, 2010
- BLUSH And Be Happy: A practical guide to overcoming your fear of blushing!
by James Bloom
- Curing Erythrophobia,Your Fear Of Blushing: Health Facts On Facial Blushing Causes, Blushing Surgery, Blushing Hypnotherapy And Other Treatment For Facial Blushing
by Alfie F. Burke
- How to overcome blushing – The ultimate guide: Tips, tricks and treatments
by Fyf Dpy