Oct 25th 2023
Chronophobia is the persistent, intense, irrational fear of time passing.  It is commonly exhibited by prisoners, elderly people, and those with a terminal condition.
People with chronophobia might feel that there is not enough time to accomplish the things they want for themselves. They may avoid looking at clocks or calendars and thinking about the future, considering the progression of time to be relentless and fearing the uncertainty that accompanies it.
Chronophobia is the irrational and intense fear of time, particularly the passage of time and the uncertainty it brings about the future. People with chronophobia often experience anxiety, distress, or panic when considering the relentless progression of time.
Sufferers often feel like time is slipping away and their phobia can be triggered by any event that reminds them of the passing of time. Weddings, birthdays, and festivals may cause them stress and anxiety. These triggers may cause them to ruminate over their own mortality, how immense time feels, how slowly it moves, and how little control they have over it.
They might have trouble handing in assignments on time or remembering social engagements as they actively avoid checking their calendars. If their chronophobia goes unchecked, they may isolate themselves from others due to feeling so overwhelmed by their fear of passing time.
While chronophobia may not be as commonly known as other phobias such as acrophobia (a fear of heights) or arachnophobia (a fear of spiders), it has garnered increased attention in recent years.
Chronophobia is considered a specific phobia. Specific phobias are characterized by an extreme, irrational fear of a situation or object disproportionate to the danger it actually poses.  Roughly 12.5% of U.S. adults experience a specific phobia in their lifetime. 
The symptoms of chronophobia can vary from person to person and can be split into physical, behavioral, and psychological sections. Here are some common physical symptoms, and co-occurring conditions, of chronophobia:
Behavioral symptoms related to chronophobia include:
Psychological symptoms related to chronophobia include:
While chronophobia can affect anyone, there are certain members of society who are more susceptible to developing it than others. These include:
The first step to receiving a chronophobia diagnosis is contacting a mental health provider for an assessment. The mental health professional – typically a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist – will discuss your experiences, symptoms, and feelings related to chronophobia.
They will ask you about any traumas you’ve faced in your life and how long you’ve been feeling this way.
In order for a phobia to be diagnosed, it has to meet the DSM-V’s diagnostic criteria. These are set out below: 
If all the above criteria are met in regard to your fear of time passing, the mental health provider will diagnose you with the specific phobia, chronophobia, and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include therapy, medication, or other interventions tailored to the specific needs of the person.
When your symptoms begin disrupting your life, it’s time to seek treatment. Treatment for chronophobia, like other phobias, includes therapeutic approaches, medication, or a combination of both.
Exposure therapy is the frontline treatment for phobias.  It involves gradual and controlled exposure to the feared stimulus (in this case, situations related to time). This exposure is done in a systematic and supportive manner to desensitize the individual and reduce anxiety over time.
As there is no specific object in chronophobia, a therapist may get you to confront the aspects of passing time you find anxiety-inducing and distressing. This will be repeated in many different forms until you become increasingly comfortable with former triggers. 
People are taught relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help when they are confronting their triggers in exposure therapy. When carried out dutifully, exposure therapy helps over 90% of people with phobias. 
CBT helps individuals identify and challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs about time and the future. Through cognitive restructuring, individuals can replace anxiety-provoking thoughts with more rational and balanced ones.
Anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines and beta-blockers, may be prescribed alongside a therapeutic approach.
In addition to official professional treatment, there are supplementary strategies you can deploy at home to cope with your fear of time. These include:
If left untreated, chronophobia can have a debilitating impact on your life. People can struggle to adapt to their community, hold down a job, and form relationships. They may feel so overwhelmed by their symptoms, they isolate themselves.
Further mental health issues may develop as a result of an untreated phobia. For example, anxiety may worsen and depression could co-occur. Talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you are struggling with symptoms of chronophobia, or any other phobia. They can recommend a suitable treatment plan and equip you to tackle your anxiety head-on. Be open and honest about your medical situation and family history of mental health conditions, you will be thankful you did down the line.
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