What is it?

Haphephobia, also known as touch aversion or touch phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense and irrational fear of being touched or touching others. People with haphephobia experience extreme distress and anxiety when faced with situations involving physical contact. Haphephobia falls under the category of specific phobias, which are anxiety disorders characterized by an intense fear of specific objects, situations, or activities. In this case, the fear is centered around tactile stimuli.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Touch aversion
- Touch phobia
- Aphephobia
- Haphophobia
- Hapnophobia
- Haptephobia
- Haptophobia
- Thixophobia
- Aphenphosmphobia

Signs & symptoms

The symptoms of haphephobia can vary in severity and may include:

- Extreme anxiety or panic attacks when touched or anticipating being touched.
- Avoidance of situations that involve physical contact, such as handshakes or hugs.
- Fear of initiating physical contact with others.
- Intense distress or discomfort when touched, leading to immediate withdrawal.
- Physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, or nausea in response to touch.

Diagnosis

Haphephobia is typically diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. The diagnosis is based on a thorough evaluation of the individual's symptoms, medical history, and an assessment of the impact of the fear on their daily life and functioning.

Treatment

The treatment of haphephobia often involves a combination of therapy and, in some cases, medication. Some commonly used treatment approaches include:

- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs associated with touch. Gradual exposure techniques may be used to desensitize the person to touch-related situations.
- Exposure therapy: This form of therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to touch-related situations in a controlled and supportive environment, allowing them to develop coping mechanisms and reduce anxiety.
- Medication: In certain cases, medication such as anti-anxiety medications or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed to help manage anxiety symptoms.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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