Gerascophobia or fear of aging: causes and symptoms

Gerascophobia is a specific type of phobia that characterized by an irrational fear of aging. In this case, the amounts of anxiety experienced are so high that the normal functioning of the person is affected.

This condition should not be confused with the desire not to grow old and the restlessness that this may generate. What can be normal in most.

Gerascophobia it is a pathology that is included within anxiety disorders. In this way, people who suffer from it experience excessive and persistent fear of the changes they undergo over time.

Among the changes that cause fear of aging are the loss of physical and mental abilities, dependence on others, changes in appearance, worsening of health and loneliness. However, most are prejudices and social stereotypes around old age.

Causes of gerascophobia

Gerascophobia It usually appears when the signs of aging begin to become evident. Usually in your mid-thirties. These signs tend to be the first wrinkles, gray hair, lack of physical agility or body sagging. Under these circumstances, the person feels intense fear.

The causes of this condition are diverse. Broadly speaking, it depends on external factors (such as beliefs and experiences) and internal (personality). That said, the most common are the following:

  • Influence of the media and the aesthetic industry. Through advertising campaigns they establish an ideal of beauty and happiness based on youth. They also create negative stereotypes around old age, associating it with deterioration, loneliness, illness and sadness.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Traits of narcissistic personality.
  • Association of old age with death and illness.
  • Experience of a traumatic event in the past that leads the person to associate old age with an unpleasant experience.
  • Negative social beliefs or stereotypes around old age, which are assumed to be true.
  • Feeling of having lost the most productive years of life without having achieved anything.

The fear of old age has to do, many times, with the association of this stage with loneliness, which is not always true.

Also read: Types of aging

What types of people are more prone to gerascophobia?

There are people who are more prone to gerascophobia. The most vulnerable are those that meet the following characteristics:

  • People who, due to their profession or other circumstances, have been heavily involved in the perpetuation of youth or taking care of the physical appearance. For example, models and actors.
  • Those who are exposed to social criticism and the judgment of others, like influencers or famous.
  • People who have been in contact with older adults and they have witnessed the most negative or vulnerable aspects of old age.
  • Those with certain personality traits, such as insecurity, poor self-esteem, or narcissism.

How does the fear of aging manifest itself?

Being a specific phobia, the distinctive clinical manifestation is the feeling of intense anxiety Given the situation. Which can be evidenced by the following symptoms:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Tachycardia.
  • Sickness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Shaking.
  • Chest pain
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Dry mouth

Additionally, people with fear of aging show some of the following psychological signs:

  • Negative and recurring thoughts about the future or the fact of getting old.
  • Impotence due to not being able to prevent aging.
  • Insecurity and sadness due to physical changes in your body, the one that is no longer perceived as attractive.
  • Intense fear of feeling fragile, vulnerable, sick, useless.
  • Interpersonal problems. It is common for them to compare themselves to younger people and feel envy.
  • Sometimes they tend to adopt obsessive dynamics to hide the signs of maturity. Thus, they invest large amounts of time and money to look younger and younger.

Tips to face the fear of aging or gerascophobia

If you suffer from gerascophobia or know someone who suffers from it, here is a list of tips that can help you overcome it.

Accept that that moment will come

The more resistance you have towards this stage of life, the more discomfort there will be in you. You begin to accept that the life cycle consists of childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age.

We are all destined to go through them. None is better than another; each one has its good and bad points. Remember that life is one and can be enjoyed at all times.

Identify negative thoughts and change them

Anytime you have a negative thought about aging, stop and try to change it. For example, if you think "When I am old I will not be healthy", change it to "Health and well-being not only depends on age, but on good habits and lifestyles".

Unfortunately, there are many negative stereotypes surrounding old age., which we believe as if they were imminent truths. Growing old does not mean being alone or sick or bitter. If you start to identify and reformulate all those beliefs that you had about aging, this process will no longer be terrifying.

Keep in mind that the change is gradual

Nobody wakes up overnight being older. Age changes are gradual. Flow with them and accept them as part of life. This makes the adaptation process easier.

Old age is marked by stereotypes, but that does not have to be true. Healthy habits accompany the maturation process.

Discover: Between childhood and old age there is an instant called "life"

Focus on the present

Constantly thinking about the future makes life pass us by without us noticing. Consequently, when we see ourselves in perspective, we regret it.

Live in the present, value and enjoy what you have. We know that this is not always an easy task. For this we recommend applying techniques based on the mindfulness.

Take care of yourself physically and mentally

For you to enjoy a healthy and happy old age, remember that good habits and healthy lifestyles largely determine your well-being in the future. Having said that, start eating well, exercising, and getting adequate sleep.

Go to a professional

Most people with a specific phobia require professional help to overcome this pathology. If you have tried to fight it on your own and have not seen results, the ideal is that you go to a specialist.

Currently, there are a number of effective psychological treatments that help address anxiety disorders.

Gerascophobia can be treated

The acceptance of old age as an inevitable stage of life and the change of negative beliefs around it are fundamental pillars to combat the fear of old age.

Nevertheless, sometimes there are much more complex predisposing that require the help of a professional so that the suffering is overcome. Consult with a psychologist if you think that gerascophobia alters your behavior patterns.