What is Gerascophobia Characteristics Symptoms and Treatment


The gerascophobia It is the irrational and excessive fear of aging. It constitutes an anxiety disorder, so the fear experienced in this alteration is pathological.

Everyone can have a certain fear of aging. However, this does not necessarily imply the presence of psychopathological alteration or the development of gerascophobia.

Gerascophobia is a type of specific phobia that is not common in society. People suffering from this disorder have very high anxiety responses and a marked change in their behavior due to fear of aging.

It is a psychological alteration that does not refer. Therefore, it is very important to treat it properly to overcome it.

Characteristics of gerascophobia

Gerascophobia is one of the most specific types of specific phobias that exist today. Specific phobias, as is well known, constitute a type of anxiety disorder motivated by the presence of a certain phobic fear.

Each type of specific phobia is mainly differentiated by the feared element. Therefore, gerascophobia differs from other specific phobias by the fear of aging.

Aging is a fact that all people experience at some point in their lives. Which implies a series of circumstances, such as deterioration of physical capacity, loss of functionality, change of lifestyle, etc.

This moment in life can affect each person differently. There are those who adapt perfectly and there are those who have a series of changes related to the lack of adaptation to old age.

However, gerascophobia does not refer to the type of adaptation that the individual has made in relation to old age. But it defines the presence of an irrational fear of the presence of old age.

The person with Gerascophobia develops an irrational fear of aging, which is why this fact becomes their greatest fear. The fear is so high that it can significantly affect the individual’s behavior, functionality and quality of life.

Symptoms of gerascophobia

The main symptomatology of gerascophobia is based on manifestations produced by anxiety. The fear of aging causes high nervousness that translates into major changes.

These changes often affect different components. In fact, the symptomatology of gerascophobia is encompassed in three main areas: physical alterations, cognitive alterations and behavioral alterations.

physical changes

Anxiety disorders seriously affect people’s physical functioning, producing a series of changes in the body.

In the case of gerascophobia, the physical symptoms are usually intense and severe, although in rare cases they end up constituting a anxiety  . Some events that cause panic attack.

The manifestations of gerascophobia on the physical level respond to the increased activity of the central nervous system that is experienced.

This increase in activity can cause quite varied symptomatology, so that the physical changes of gerascophobia can be slightly different in each case.

Generally speaking, an individual suffering from this disorder will experience some of the following symptoms when exposed to their feared stimuli:

  1. Increase in heart rate
  2. Palpitations
  3. Increased respiratory rate.
  4. drowning feeling
  5. Tension in different muscles of the body.
  6. pupil dilation
  7. Noticeable increase in perspiration.
  8. Chills
  9. Head and/or stomach pain
  10. sense of unreality

It is not common for the individual with Gerascophobia to experience all the symptoms at once. However, it is common to experience a fair share of them, with increased breathing and heart rates being the most common symptoms.

cognitive disorders

Cognitive disorders refer to the sequence of pathological thoughts that a person with gerascophobia develops.

These cognitions are closely related to aging and motivate and increase the experience of fear in relation to aging.

The negative thoughts that the person develops can be multiple and quite nonspecific. However, in all of them there is an important cognitive bias in relation to the negative consequences that aging brings.

Likewise, negative thoughts about personal abilities to deal with old age often come up. Normally, a negative assessment is usually made about the characteristics that a person will have when they get older.

behavioral changes

The physical and cognitive symptoms that gerascophobia causes directly affect the person’s behavior.

In fact, the behavioral alteration of gerascophobia can become serious and limit the person’s quality of life and functionality.

Behavioral symptoms have to do with individuals’ efforts to escape their fears. That is, to prevent aging.

Nowadays it is not well established what behavioral alterations the gerascophobia entails. Mainly because these can be multiple and usually depend more on the individual’s personal characteristics than on the alteration itself.

However, constant restorative behavior is common, the initiation of anti-aging treatments, behaviors to avoid wear and tear or physical deterioration, etc.

At first glance, these behaviors might seem healthy and wholesome to a person. However, in gerascophobia they contain a high pathological component.

The person performs activities to avoid discomfort instead of achieving well-being, a reason that often translates into behavioral changes.

What causes the symptoms of gerascophobia?

The alteration produced by gerascophobia has its origin in the fear of aging. The fear of aging causes high discomfort, which translates into the symptoms described above.

In this way, the main point of the pathology is the fear of aging. Likewise, the fear experienced is one of the basic points for its diagnosis.

To catalog the fear experienced as pathological and therefore related to gerascophobia, a series of main characteristics must be fulfilled:


The fear of aging does not belong to congruent processes. The subject with gerascophobia has a fear that is not supported by rational thoughts.

Likewise, the fear of aging isn’t just irrational for others. The individual suffering from the disorder interprets his fear as incongruous, and is aware that it is not based on solid foundations.


The fear experienced in gerascophobia is beyond voluntary control. The person with this disorder is totally unable to control their feelings of fear, which appear automatically.

Likewise, the subject is unable to control the anxiety responses and symptoms resulting from the pathology. For this reason, the only alternative that the person with gerascophobia has is to avoid the elements that cause discomfort (avoid aging).


The fear of gerascophobia is also characterized by its intensity, which is always excessively high.

The individual responds to stimuli as if experiencing a great threat to his person, when in reality this is totally non-existent.

This leads to avoidance of the dreaded stimulus.

The person with Gerascophobia is totally unable to face their fears, so their only option is to escape them.

Avoidance is the most common behavior in the disorder and is staying away from those elements that are related to aging and cause fear.

Persists over time

The fear of gerascophobia is not temporary or temporary. This persists over time and is not only experienced at specific times or times.

Indeed, if fears of aging are experienced occasionally or transiently, it is highly likely that gerascophobia does not occur.

Likewise, fear of the disorder is also not specific to a certain age. Once it develops, it seems permanent without remission unless it is properly intervened.


The fear of this psychopathology does not allow the individual who experiences it to better adapt to his environment. In fact, this characteristic is vital for classifying any type of fear as benign and functional.

In this way, the fear of gerascophobia makes it difficult for the individual to adapt, causes negative consequences and is therefore pathological.


The etiology of specific phobias is, today, one of the main topics of interest for the scientific community.

In the study of anxiety and the resulting disorders, phobias are one of the best known and best researched disorders.

Today there is a high consensus that there is no single cause that causes the development of specific phobias. Rather, several factors that may play an important role have been described.

These factors are not always present, and in some cases they may be more visible than others.

However, it is concluded that the combination of the following elements (which may occur to a greater or lesser extent) contributes to the development of the pathology.

classical conditioning

Currently, it is postulated that the mechanism that best explains the acquisition of fear is classical conditioning. That is, the fact of being exposed to situations that convey the idea of ​​fear.

In this sense, coexisting with people who have a high risk of aging, often commenting on the terrible consequences of becoming older or giving too much importance to staying young, are factors that can contribute to the development of gerascophobia.

Classical conditioning seems to be especially important during childhood, as this is when most fears are developed. However, these factors can play a relatively important role at any age.

Vicar conditioning / information

Direct exposure is not the only mechanism through which fears can develop. In fact, acquiring information verbally or visually can also motivate the emergence of fears.

In this sense, being exposed to situations in which information is transmitted about the negative consequences of old age and the importance of moving away from it can contribute to the development of gerascophobia.

genetic factors

Although today there is not much data on the heritability of phobias, some authors indicate a relative presence of genetic factors in their development.

Thus, people with relatives who have a history of specific phobias or other anxiety disorders may be more likely to develop gerassophobia.

Cognitive Factors

Finally, certain elements of the way of thinking seem to play an important role not so much in the development, but in the maintenance of phobias.

Unrealistic beliefs about the harm that can be received, attentional biases towards threats or low perceptions of self-efficacy would be the most important components.

Treatment of gerascophobia

Psychological interventions are more indicated than gerascophobia, with higher rates of effectiveness than pharmacological treatments.

Specifically, cognitive-behavioral treatment is the psychological intervention that presents the best results, as it allows reversing most cases of specific phobia.

In this treatment, exposure is mainly used, a technique that consists of exposing the phobic individual to their feared elements.

Exposure is usually done gradually, as the human language. The objective is for the subject to remain in front of his phobic stimuli, without being able to escape them.

Little by little, the individual becomes accustomed to those elements he fears so much and learns to avoid his anxiety reaction.

To facilitate the process, relaxation techniques are usually added, since these allow to reduce the person’s anxiety and give him a state of serenity that helps him to face his fears

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