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Anaphylaxis Phobia

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Ever since I had my youngest child (5 months) I have this terrible fear of going into anaphylaxis shock. It only happens with food, the same foods I have eaten a million times. I have never had an allergic reaction to food that I know of, and nothing seems to have triggered this fear. I was wondering how I can overcome this phobia naturally (no medication), and if counseling would be necessary. I pretty much stopped eating everything, and all I drink is water or cola.

Phobias are irrational fears. In order to overcome a phobia, one must believe in reality and act in accordance with reality. The truth (or reality) is that it is highly unlikely that you would have an allergic reaction, because of the logical reasons you have stated. Your continued belief in the unlikely occurrence of anaphylaxis shock keeps your phobia alive. It also shows your refusal to believe in reality.

The fact that you have stopped eating also reinforces your phobia. Every time you drink water or cola, instead of eating the proper foods, it strengthens your phobia.

The most efficient way to combat your phobia would be to resume a normal diet. That would likely create a high-anxiety situation that understandably would be unwelcome.

A therapist who specializes in phobias and anxiety disorders could assist you in gaining control over this irrational fear. Depending on his or her specialty, there are many methods that he or she might use. Cognitive and behavioral therapies are effective. Hypnosis might also work for you. You might also want to try reading self-help books about phobias.

It would be helpful to focus on probability. Probabilities are scientific estimates of the likelihood of an event occurring. The probability of you having an allergic reaction to foods you have eaten “a million times” is very low for you and for all other people who have never displayed a food allergy. Your level of anxiety and fear should match the likelihood of occurrence. Thus, your anxiety level should be as low for you as for any other person who has no known food allergies. A therapist could assist you in realistically assessing your risk and help you to adjust your behavior and emotions accordingly.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A few targeted sessions with a competent therapist might be all you need to eradicate this phobia. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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