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Monday, September 21, 2020

Dishabiliophobia: The Fear of Undressing in the Presence of Someone

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Have you ever been embarrassed or even afraid to dress in front someone even though that person may be your parent, sibling, close relative or spouse? If yes, then you may have experienced a type of phobia called dishabiliophobia.

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Dihabiliophobia can be defined simply as the fear of undressing in front of someone. Dishabiliophobia is made up of two Latin words and one Greek word. Dis (Latin) means separate or removal, habil (Latin) meaning clothing and phobia (greek) which means fear.

Often, dishabiliophobia is considered to be a social phobia. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) doesn’t recognise this phobia. According to APA, there are only about 100 phobias, and dishabiliophobia is not part of them.

Although APA doesn’t recognise this fear, however, it is still a potent phobia. It is not some minor fear that should just be tossed aside as it can be so intense such that it disrupts the daily activities of the patient.

A person who suffers from dishabiliophobia will experience extreme levels of anxiety when asked to undress in front of someone. Sometimes, even the mere thought of undressing in the presence of another person (including those they are in a relationship with) can cause the patient to have panic attacks.

This fear has been seen to cause different abysmal problems in several cases, especially for those who are in a relationship. For some people, while undressing and another person steps into the room, they may begin to experience symptoms of anxiety.

Having this fear can cause problems in other relationships that are not romantic. For example, in team sports where it is required that teams should change together and everyone is expected to undress in front of other people, a person who has dishabiliophobia will not be able to cope with such am environment.

There are many people that have suffered from this type of phobia, and it shouldn’t be surprising that more than 30% of women have had this phobia. According to research, women are two times more likely to suffer from this than men.

Having to deal with this phobia and trying to overcome it all alone can prove to be very challenging to the patient. Sometimes, it may prove to be impossible to overcome, thereby allowing the patient to give up and start living with their phobic tendencies.

However, there is good news. This phobia can be overcomed. To overcome a particular disease, it is essential to understand its causes; its triggers and all there is to the disease. This article will help you understand this phobia better.

Causes of Dishabiliophobia

dishabiliophobia fear of undressing in the presence of someone

There are no laid out causes of dishabiliophobia; however, there are two factors that can be said to contribute significantly to the development of this irrational fear. They are;

Genetics

It can be said that a child takes genetic traits from his or her parents. As such, if there is any parent that has suffered from mental illnesses and anxiety disorders, then the child has a higher chance of developing any anxiety disorder, including dishabiliophobia.

Also, suppose the child has any family history of mental illnesses and anxiety disorders (meaning that the parent didn’t directly suffer from it, however, a sibling, aunt, uncle or any member of the family may have had it). In that case, the child can develop this condition.

It is important to note that this condition is mostly developed in childhood, and as such, parents are often encouraged to take note of their children’s behaviours.

Environmental factors

Although a child may have the gene of developing an anxiety disorder or a mental illness, however, when there is no trigger (environmental factors), then that gene will not be expressive.

However, when a child witnesses or faces a particular trauma, it can result in the triggering and the expression of these genes, causing the development of dishabiliophobia.

Although the exact causes of dishabiliophobia are not known, most doctors agree that both genetic and environmental factors have played a massive role in the development of this anxiety disorder.

Hence, looking at these two parameters, it is easy to determine if a person will develop dishabiliophobia or not.

Symptoms of dishabiliophobia

dishabiliophobia fear of undressing in the presence of someone

Just like other anxiety disorders and phobia, dishabiliophobia often presents with severe anxiety attacks. In other words, a person who has dishabiliophobia will discover that once he or she is confronted with their fears (undressing in front of someone), the person will experience increased levels of anxiety.

In some people, their levels of anxiety can be so high such that it becomes a full-blown panic attack. For some, depending on high the panic attacks they experience is, they may have to be hospitalised. However, hospitalisation is often dependent on the severity of the disorder as well as other factors.

A person with dishabiliophobia will tend to show traits of avoidance. Just like other phobias, people who experience dishabiliophobia will find out that they try to avoid their triggers at all cost.

It is not unusual for a person who has dishabiliophobia to avoid places where his or her fear will be triggered. Also, they may usually try to actively become disengaged with anything that has to do with their fears.

It is important to note that phobias shouldn’t be taken lightly because they can, to a large extent, limit a person’s daily activities and in some extreme cases, cause a person to develop depression.

In some cases, a person who suffers from dishabiliophobia(with extreme levels) doesn’t need to be exposed to their fear before they become anxious; even the mere thought of undress In in front of a person is enough to trigger an anxiety attack.

People are different, and it is essential to understand that not everyone will experience all of the same symptoms. Also, these symptoms happen to vary based on the severity of their phobia.

However, generally speaking, a person who has dishabiliophobia will suffer from at least one of the following symptoms.

Physical symptoms

A person who has dishabiliophobia will experience anxiety attacks which may result in full-blown panic attacks if care isn’t taken. These panic attacks are often distressing and fearful of the patient.

In most cases, these panic attacks happen without prior notice, warnings or signs. A person who suffers from panic attacks will experience at least one of these physical symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Chills and hot flushes
  • Severe difficulties in breathing(sometimes, shortness of breath)
  • Choking sensations
  • Tachycardia which is characterised by rapid heartbeats.
  • Chest tightness and pains(angina)
  • Butterfly sensations in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Feeling faint
  • Numbness
  • Sensations of pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • The urgent need to frequently visit the toilet
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hyperventilating when confronted with your trigger
  • Rapid pulse rates
  • Rise in temperature
  • Tightness in the chest

A person who suffers from dishabiliophobia will experience at least one or a combination of these symptoms.

Psychological Symptoms

Just like a panic attack can have immeasurable effects on the physical aspect of the patient, it can also cause mental and psychological symptoms.

When exposed to their triggers, a person who suffers from dishabiliophobia will experience one, all or a combination of these symptoms:

  • Fear of always losing control
  • Fear of fainting (syncope)
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling of dread
  • Fear of falling ill
  • Fear of harming one’s self
  • Withdrawal from the company of others
  • Feelings of guilt and self-blame
  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • Always feeling disconnected
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Having difficulties in concentration
  • Anger and uncontrollable outburst (in children, consistent crying may be noticed)
  • Mood swings and Irritability
  • Fear and anxiety

Although the signs listed above are almost always experienced by people who suffer from phobias, the trigger is what determines what kinds of phobia the person is suffering from.

In other words, a person who has dishabiliophobia will only experience these symptoms when confronted with having to undress in the presence of another person.

Treatment

Just like other phobias, dishabiliophobia doesn’t have any specific treatment plan attached it. However, a number of treatments have been seen to help resolve phobias over time, and as such, it can be used to treat patients who have dishabiliophobia.

These treatments include;

Therapy

Therapy always involves you having to discuss with a specialist or a psychiatrist concerning your fears. The aim of treatment is to help you understand why you act the way you do and think, as well as help you understand your feelings.

There are many types of therapy; however, there are two forms that have proven to be effective in the treatment of phobias. They include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of treatment that helps to deal with how a person thinks. Your psychologist will help you understand why you think the way you do and why you act the way you behave, especially when you are confronted with your fears.

A person who has dishabiliophobia that partakes in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can expect to understand why they act the way they do, why they are afraid of their fears and so on.

When the patient understands why he/she acts the way they do, it can help he/she to take pragmatic approaches in helping themselves when they think about undressing in front of another person.

Exposure therapy

This is another standard treatment that is used by psychologists in treating patients who have specific phobias up, including dishabiliophobia.

As the name implies, exposure therapy refers to the gradual processes by which the patient is exposed to his/her fear(in this case, undressing in front of someone.)

Over a given period, the patient is gradually exposed to his fear. For starters, your therapist might first ask you to undress a little before him or her.

Although it may be considered unethical to do it in the presence of your therapist, however, in an attempt to help desensitise the patient, then they might have to consider using this approach.

According to research, psychologists have discovered that the more you expose a person to his/her fears, the more the person gets used to it and the less frightening the phobia is to the patient.

The use of Medications

In some extreme cases, there are certain medications that may be prescribed to help the patient deal with some of the effects of anxiety and panic attacks. It is important to note that these drugs don’t cure the phobia.

However, there are specific side effects that come with alongside phobias such as depression, mental illnesses. It is important to note that no drugs should be used without a doctor’s prescription.

Generally, there are three types of drugs that are prescribed by therapists to help overcome the side effects of dishabiliophobia. They include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquilisers
  • Beta-blockers

These sets of drugs help to deal with the side effects and help the patient have a better outlook.

Self-help

These refer to methods that you can carry out to help yourself overcome your fears. Based on this, there are five strategies that have been seen to help a patient deal with his or her fears. They include;

Try to face your fear head-on

The first part of overcoming any fear is to admit that you have that phobia and be ready to face it head-on. You must realise that many people also have passed or are experiencing the same kind of phobia you are experiencing, and as such, there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Always understand that you are not alone in this war. For you to be able to face this phobia head-on, you must practice.

Practice makes perfect, they say, and as such, you must practice undressing in front of your close relative, family member or spouse. Doing this consistently helps you to understand that your fears are only strong due to how much you let it control you.

Don’t rush the process. You can decide to adapt to your fears gradually and walk your way up. Remember, practice and repetition are the first steps to undertake to overcome your phobia

Never let your failures, panic and setbacks deter you from progressing

Realise that it is okay to fail even at the initial stages. No one expects you to be a master, because if you have been, then you wouldn’t need the help. Everyone has had a bad day every once in a while.

The important thing is never to allow it to stop you from progressing in your treatment. It is vital that on those days that you fail, it may seem like you aren’t making any progress; however, this outlook is deceptive.

Whenever this occurs to you, sit back and access how far you have gone in your fight against your dishabiliophobia. If you are honest with yourself, you will realise that you have made real progress.

It is okay to fail today but what is not okay is to allow that failure to stop your track of progress

Keep looking at the big picture

The big picture is winning your fight against dishabiliophobia. You should realise that whatever keeps your fear in place already have a stronghold over your mind. There are many chances that you are mission out on by being held under the chains of your fear.

You must decide to not live with regrets.

Realise that your fear is a call for action

Most people who have dishabiliophobia often think that their anxiety is a limitation. Rather than thinking about It this way, it is essential to note that your fear can spring you up to claim the kind of life that you have always wanted.

Your fear of undressing in the presence of people is not a death sentence, and it is important to realise that you can resolve it with consistent determination and help.

Rewire your brain

Although it is easier said than done, rewiring your mind is one of the surest ways to overcome your fears and also will help you to develop the courage that is needed to help you overcome your fear.

Therapy is one of the most effective methods used by psychiatrists to help rewire your brain. Although, most patients complain that having a one-on-one counselling session with a seasoned therapist is expensive, however, there are other affordable alternatives such as hypnotherapy.

Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker
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