Samir Kadri
Author: Samir Kadri Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

We all hope to be remembered for our positive qualities by friends, families, and other people we’ve connected with in life. If given the choice, few of us would choose to be forgotten by the people we’ve touched in our lives.

For some people, the fear of being forgotten is so persistent, intense, and irrational that it can be deemed a phobia. [1]

Athazagoraphobia is an uncommon and specific phobia characterized by an irrational fear of being forgotten, ignored, or overlooked by others. It can also refer to the fear of forgetting another person or thing.


What is athazagoraphobia?

Athazagoraphobia is an intense, constant fear of being forgotten or forgetting someone or something. Like other phobias, athazagoraphobia can feel extremely disruptive, with sufferers often experiencing intense anxiety and distress at the thought of fading into obscurity or being abandoned by those they care about.

People with athazagoraphobia may experience both physical and mental symptoms when confronted with the idea of being forgotten or forgetting others. This distress can sometimes even lead to an anxiety attack.

The fear of being forgotten can also be related to people’s anxieties about developing dementia, with recent studies showing ‘dementia worry’ to be a widespread phenomenon across Western societies. [2]

As the prevalence of dementia has increased across the nation, so has peoples’ exposure to the disease and individuals of all ages are increasingly concerned that they themselves may develop dementia.

 ‘Dementia worry’ can vary in intensity from mild to severe – the latter being encompassed by ‘athazagoraphobia’. [2] It is a relatively unknown topic that requires further research so it can be better understood from a psychological and cultural perspective.

Symptoms of athazagoraphobia

Like other phobias, athazagoraphobia can present through a wide range of symptoms, both physical and mental. These symptoms vary depending on the severity of the phobia, with most people experiencing a base symptom of general anxiety. [3] Mental symptoms may include:

  • An all-consuming fear or anxiety when you are ignored or forgotten – or believe that you could be forgotten down the line.
  • Feeling intensely anxious at the notion of being forgotten.
  • Feeling hypervigilant towards signs of perceived neglect or indifference from others – regardless of other people’s intent or the reality of a situation.
  • Afeeling of impending doom when contemplating a reality where you have lost your memory or have been forgotten by others.
  • Constantly seeking reassurance, validation,or attention from friends and family to appease your fear of being forgotten.
  • Depression
  • Isolating yourself from social situations
  • An inability to focus.
  • Difficulty sleeping

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Body aches
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Elevated heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Localized pains in certain areas of the body

Causes of athazagoraphobia

The exact cause of athazagoraphobia, like many specific phobias, can be difficult to pinpoint and is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

People generally have their phobias triggered by certain situations, experiences, or objects, and while they recognize their response is irrational and excessive, it does not make their experience any less distressing. [1]

Potential factors that contribute to the onset of athazagoraphobia include:

  • Genetic predisposition: There is evidence to suggest that specific phobias, including athazagoraphobia, can have a genetic component. [4] If there is a family history of anxiety disorders or phobias, an individual may be more susceptible to developing such fears.
  • Parental influence: Observing and imitating the behavior of parents or caregivers who exhibit similar fears or anxieties can contribute to the development of athazagoraphobia.
  • Traumatic event: A person may have suffered a traumatic experience such as being abandoned or the tragic loss of a loved one, which could contribute to them developing athazagoraphobia. [6]
  • Loved one with dementia: Being exposed to, or caring for, a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may lead to the development of athazagoraphobia. [5] Alternatively, someone with a dementia-related disease may suffer irrational, crippling anxiety about being forgotten by their loved ones as their condition deteriorates.
  • Long-term stress: Stress is a common trigger of anxiety and depression. It can compromise your ability to cope with situations you feel uncomfortable in, causing you to spiral. [6] This may make you feel anxious about being in those situations again leading you to isolate yourself. If this happens over a long period, it can develop into a phobia, such as athazagoraphobia.

You may feel identifying the cause for your own phobia could prove beneficial, though there is a possibility you conclude there is no simple explanation.

People tend to avoid the stimulus or situation that triggers their phobia, but this can deepen your fear causing you to withdraw more and more. [6] While being in a situation involving your phobia can feel distressing, it can be beneficial to living with your phobia long term. There is a range of professional help options that can help you confront your phobia.

Diagnosing athazagoraphobia

Diagnosing athazagoraphobia, like any other phobia, would start with an evaluation from a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist with a specialty in phobias.

After a thorough discussion of your symptoms, feelings, and experiences related to the phobia, the mental health professional will refer to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

While athazagoraphobia is not regarded as a mental health condition by the DSM-V currently, it would fall underneath the clinical category for specific phobias. Your mental health provider will refer to the manual’s criteria for phobias when considering with to diagnose you with one: [1]

  • The fear must be persistent and last for six or more months.
  • The fear causes significant distress and impairs functioning.
  • The fear concerns a specific stimulus – e.g., a situation or object.
  • The fear is out of proportion to the danger posed by the stimulus.
  • The fear occurs immediately when confronted by the stimulus.
  • The fear cannot be better explained by a separate mental health condition.

In some cases, the mental health professional may use standardized questionnaires or assessments to further evaluate the severity of your phobia and its impact on your life.

Self-care for athazagoraphobia

There are some steps you can take to try and manage your athazagoraphobia. They may help you cope with symptoms relating to your fear of being forgotten. You may find these steps helpful, but it’s important to stress that these are not a cure for athazagoraphobia.

Coping with the fear of being forgotten is a process and it may take time to find the right combination of self-care strategies that work for you.

Confide in a friend or loved one

Talk about your experience with athazagoraphobia with a friend, partner, or loved one. [6] If they can understand your situation, they are more likely to empathize and know how you want to be supported.

If nothing else, having someone listen to you and show they care about your plight can comforting. If you find it hard to talk about your phobia, try writing it down as this may help you organize your thoughts more clearly.

Relaxation techniques

There are a breadth of relaxation techniques that can help you manage your athazagoraphobia. Practicing breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, and daily stretching can help you manage triggers and generally alleviate stress. [6]

If you feel a sense of panic building, you can call upon the breath work you’ve practiced and handle the impending panic attack more effectively.

Managing panic and anxiety brought on by your phobia can feel immensely challenging, but these relaxation techniques can help you feel more in control of your trigger situation or object. [6]

Support groups

Both in-person and online support groups can be beneficial to sufferers of phobias, especially uncommon ones like athazagoraphobia. It can feel validating and comforting to know you are not alone. [6] You can share coping strategies and helpful resources with one another.

Online support groups can be extra handy for people who aren’t able to leave home regularly, or who find it hard to speak to others face-to-face.

You can locate both in-person and online groups in your area through a quick Google search. Most groups will set out criteria for membership, meeting times, and other useful information online.

Athazagoraphobia treatment

There are several ways to treat phobias, typically involving a combination of therapeutic approaches and some psychiatric medications.

Exposure therapy

This is the frontline treatment for phobias, including athazagoraphobia. [1] Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing people to whatever triggers their phobia. This is initially done in the controlled setting of a therapist’s office, but as a patient progresses in their treatment plan, they are given exposure tasks to complete at home. Patients are taught breathing techniques to use before and during exposure to manage distress. [1]

Exposure therapy helps over 90% of people who practice it accurately and is typically the only treatment needed for many phobias.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is another effective treatments for specific phobias, including athazagoraphobia. It helps individuals identify and challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs related to their fear. [6]

The aim is for a patient to learn why it is they fear forgetting or being forgotten. Understanding this can help a person with athazagoraphobia modify their behavior towards their triggers.


Medications aren’t typically prescribed to people seeking to overcome their phobias. However, benzodiazepines, used to treat anxiety, are an exception. [1] This will not help a person eliminate their athazagoraphobia, but it may temporarily manage anxiety related to the condition.

Medication would not typically be prescribed on its own – it would accompany a therapeutic approach.

  1. Barnhill, J. W. (2023b, August 30). Specific phobias. MSD Manual Consumer Version.
  2. Kessler, E., Bowen, C. E., Baer, M. T., Frölich, L., & Wahl, H. (2012). Dementia worry: a psychological examination of an unexplored phenomenon. European Journal of Ageing, 9(4), 275–284.
  3. Specific phobia. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
  4. Villafuerte, S., & Burmeister, M. (2003). Untangling genetic networks of panic, phobia, fear and anxiety. Genome biology, 4(8), 224.
  5. Norman, A. L., Woodard, J. L., Calamari, J. E., Gross, E., Pontarelli, N. K., Socha, J., DeJong, B., & Armstrong, K. (2018). The fear of Alzheimer’s disease: mediating effects of anxiety on subjective memory complaints. Aging & Mental Health, 24(2), 308–314.
  6. What causes phobias? (n.d.). Mind.
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Samir Kadri
Author Samir Kadri Writer

Samir Kadri is a medical writer with a non-profit sector background, committed to raising awareness about mental health.

Published: Oct 25th 2023, Last edited: Oct 25th 2023

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Oct 25th 2023