Ablutophobia, is there a fear of taking a bath?

While for some people taking a bath can be very relaxing, for others it can be a real torture. This is what is known as “ablutophobia” or an irrational fear of bathing. a rare, but serious, phobia that can affect the way a person functions on a daily basis.

It occurs most frequently among women and children, although it can also affect men. Furthermore, it is included in the subcategory of specific phobias, which in turn correspond to an anxiety disorder. How does it manifest itself? What is your treatment? In the following space we solve these questions.

What is ablutophobia?

Ablutophobia is a type of specific phobia in which people experience an irrational fear of bathing, washing or cleaning themselves. As explained by one publication in Lancet psychiatry, these types of phobias involve both fear and avoidance.

In this particular case, the sufferer experiences excessive fear, anxiety, panic, or distress when having to bathe or wash. They even find it overwhelming just thinking about it. In turn, they may experience anxiety when they see soaps, sponges, towels, or anything associated with the bathroom.

And while avoidance becomes one way to reduce the severity of discomfort, it’s not the best option. The toilet is an essential habit, not only for hygienic and social reasons, but also for health. Refusing this can lead to the development of infectious diseases and skin ailments.

It must be considered that in children it is common not to like the bathroom. However, this differs from a phobia. At this time, to be classified as ablutophobia, the American Psychiatric Association specifies that symptoms must persist for more than six months.

What is ablutophobia?
Ablutophobia is more common in children and women.

Associated symptoms

Ablutophobia shares its symptoms with phobias in general, beyond the fact that their peculiar characteristic is the refusal to go to the toilet. The symptoms, being associated with fear, involve activation of the sympathetic nervous system. They cover the following:

  • sweating.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Accelerated breathing.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Tremors.
  • Heachache.
  • Some people may even have panic attacks.

In addition to the above, we have to mention some particular behaviors of people who are afraid to take a bath. It is common for them to use large amounts of perfume and avoid being around others. They may also chew gum excessively.

What can cause it?

The origin of phobias, and in this particular case of ablutophobia, can be different. Here becauseIt is important to work with the patient to reconstruct the history and onset of symptoms.

For example, it may be related to some trauma caused by one’s own accident (direct negative experience), such as drowning. It can also be due to someone else’s experience, such as hearing or witnessing a tragic event, such as a fall into the bathtub, a water accident, etc.

Badós (2009) also mentions a third modality, which it has to do with the transmission of threatening information in relation to the phobic object. However, this is the least powerful in terms of the development of the phobia.

Some the studies suggest that there are also genetic components involved, as it is more likely to coincide with a specific phobia in a family where one or more members already experience it.

Possible complications

In principle, this should be clarified Not all phobias are treated because not all phobias impact people’s lives in the same way.

Those who suffer from arachnophobia (to spiders) are certainly less affected than those who suffer from agoraphobia. And not because their discomfort is any less important, but because of the affected area and the possibilities of being in contact with the trigger of the phobia.

In the case of ablutophobia, since what is directly concerned is personal hygiene, complications occur in all areas of life. Initially, socially and interpersonally, as body image and hygiene are considered a cover letter.

Subsequently, at the health level, since the lack of personal hygiene favors the spread of viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms that cause disease. There is an increased risk of skin infections, digestive problems, respiratory disorders, hair problems, among others.

Treatments available for ablutophobia

Ablutophobia requires therapy
If symptoms interfere with daily life, it is important to consult a mental health professional to seek workable treatment.

It should be borne in mind that not all people with ablutophobia know that they suffer from this phobia. Many may choose to isolate themselves or engage in avoidance behaviors before seeking help. However, it is a condition that can be addressed with psychotherapy.

In this case, cognitive behavioral therapy has shown good results. Techniques such as systematic desensitization are regularly recommended. It consists of a progressive exposure to the phobic stimulus or object.

In an environment that allows for a gradual approach to the source of the phobia, the patient can face their fear with the tools needed to manage it.

And because phobia can be learned, it also works with cognitive biases about what people believe might be happening to them. This is to advance to cognitive restructuring. with this technique the patient is asked to identify thoughts that are maladaptive replace them with more suitable ones.

Progressive muscle relaxation, through the game of muscle tension-relaxation, is also part of the first treatment sessions.

Fear is adaptive, phobia is not.

Finally we can go back to the starting point; Phobias are an intense and excessive fear. When considering when a fear stops being a simple fear and becomes a phobiait’s important to take into account how maladaptive it is and how much it limits us.

Fear is a basic emotion and, as such, it is adaptive. It allows us to escape from those situations that we do not like. However, when it gets out of control, we cannot control it despite our attempts and we recognize it as irrational, we are talking about a phobia.

Not all phobias have the same chance of disturbing us, but if they interfere with your routine, as happens with ablutophobia, it’s best to seek professional help.

The post Ablutophobia, is there fear of taking a bath? first appeared on research-school



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