Nosophobia and Nutritional Guidance
At a time when a pandemic is the talk of the town (or currently the entire world) it is necessary to familiarise ourselves with a few things that can successfully help us overcome this pandemic in our own little way. The current hot talk wandering around the world, Coronavirus also comes under this criteria. Then is it not necessary to know about this topic?
Over here we'll discuss about Nosophobia , the extreme fear of developing a disease and how can the symptoms of nosophobia be prevented or treated with nutritional means. Let’s dive straight into the topic!
Out of your VULNERABILITIES will come your STRENGTH.— Sigmund Freud
Nosophobia (or pathophobia) is the irrational fear of having a specific disease. This word originates from two Greek words ‘nosos’ meaning disease and ‘phobos’ meaning fear.
During recent times, this phobia is also referred to as cyberchondria. This is so because the root of fear often is from cyberspace. This phobia should not be mistaken for hypochondria, which is the fear of disease in general.
• Thinking a lot about one's own health.
• Having lost a beloved one due to an incurable disease.
• People with other behavioural disorders such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, Obsessive compulsive disorders.
• High exposure to media related articles or news about incurable or dangerous diseases.
• A major outbreak of any disease can also trigger nosophobia.
Nosophobia is a specific phobia which is more common amongst students, particularly medical students, health professionals, medical researchers etc. Due to this, this phobia is also commonly known as the ‘medical student’s disease’, due to the exposure theses students have about various diseases.
Other risk factors include:
• Exposure to media coverage about diseases and how they can be contracted. This includes being overly cautioned about contracting contagious diseases.
• A previous traumatic event involving serious or sometimes normal health issues.
• Being in constant or frequent contact with people who have serious or incurable diseases.
- Panic attack
- Fear/ Anxiety disorder
- Increase in blood pressure
- Insomnia (sleeplessness)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Treatment and Medication:
As can be noted, it is pretty clear that these symptoms are similar to those when one experiences uncontrollable fear. Therefore we can safely conclude that this phobia basically is related to irrational, uncontrollable fear.
Therefore treating it also safely includes ways that can control and bring down fear. Nosophobia like any other phobia can be treated. Any phobia or mania is more than often due to psychological issues (mentally setting the mind to believe in the fear and then setting the body in the same method, which later develops into a complete phobia and causes problems.). These issues have already been discussed in causes and risk factors.
The best way to treat any problem is by exposure, which includes learning about the problem and bravely facing it. By facing our phobias and weaknesses, we can mentally strengthen our mind to fight it off.
There are other ways to treat nosophobia which are mentioned below.
Depression is being colorblind and constantly told how colorful the world is.— Atticus
Exposure therapy is considered the most effective way to treat phobias by leading psychologists ( DL Chambless and TH Ollendick ). A study by JS Kaplan and DF Tolin shows that 90% of the people who were given this therapy showed considerable reduction and 65% no longer experienced any phobia.
In this approach, the therapist exposes you to your fears in a safe environment. The therapist then goes on to develop ways by which you can deal with the stress and anxiety, with the use of meditation and relaxation techniques. Eventually, you’ll learn to confront the consequences of the fear.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment. It helps people learn how to identify and rectify disturbing thoughts that have a negative effect on the behaviour and emotion of the person.
For a nosophobic person, the therapist incorporates a level of exposure and focuses on training the person to recognise and confront irrational thoughts and fears.
In some cases, nosophobes are given hypnotherapy to relate with the fear and confront it. This phobia also causes stress, so techniques that reduce or treat stress are also given like sophrology.
There is no particular drug that can treat phobia, but there are drugs that can reduce symptoms of fear and anxiety if used along with therapy.
• Beta blockers: help decrease physical symptoms of anxiety.
• Benzodiazepines: sedative that can help with anxiety symptoms. But they are addictive so can’t be used for a long time.
• Meditative practices like yoga and Tai Chi can also be helpful.
There is no such thing as a disease symptoms cannot be treated with foods. Nutritional means of treatment are far more healthy and effective to reduce symptoms and prevent from further occurrence of the disease.
Here we will look onto, how the four main important symptoms of Nosophobic patients can be possibly reduced with food and nutrition.
Health is not about the weight you lose, but about the life you gain..— Dr. Josh Axe
Fear/ Anxiety Disorder:
- These nuts have Selenium, which helps in inflammation reduction. Also it an anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic mineral.
- Selenium also contains Vitamin-C, which is again an anti-oxidant and helps in lowering the depression level.
- It is recommended to consume 400mcg/day, i.e. 3-4 nuts and not more than that.
- Fishes like Salmon, Sardine contains omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin-D.
- If the omega-6 value is more than omega-3, there are possible chances to acquire mood disorders. And this can be prevented with the consumption of fatty fishes.
- It is recommended to have 2 servings of fatty fishes per week.
- Egg yolk in particular contains Vitamin-D and proteins.
- Tryptophan, an essential amino acid present in egg increases the production of Serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter, which helps to regulate mood.
- These are rich in Potassium which helps to regulate blood pressure.
- Also contains Zinc, which helps in the development of brain and nerves.
- Dark chocolates are rich in polyphenols (flavonoids), which help in the reduction of neuro-inflammation and cell-death.
- As seen before, contains tryptophan that increases serotonin and contains magnesium which aids in depression.
- Apart from these it also help in maintaining the blood flow.
- It is recommended to consume 1-3 gram/ day.
- Turmeric contains a bio-active substance called Curcumin which helps in reducing depression, stress and anxiety.
- Also it helps in increasing the DHA compound, which in turn reduces anxiety.
- Chamomile contains flavonoids and they have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammation properties.
- Also it has a biggest advantage that, it is safe to use chamomile in high dosages too.
- Also these contain anti-bacterial properties and act as a relaxant.
- Yoghurt contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria which reduces anxiety by shifting the GABA Receptors.
- Apart from Yoghurt, these bacterium are also available in other fermented foods like cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi etc.,
- It contains Theanine, an amino acid, which helps to increase serotonin and dopamine levels.
- It is recommended to have 200mcg/ day, which can possibly increase relaxation and calmness.
- Green leafy vegetables like, Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard contains Potassium which help lowers the blood pressure level.
- Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries contain flavonoid, which reduces the stress in the blood flow and helps for smooth function of normal blood flow.
Skim Milk and Yoghurt:
- Skim milk and Yoghurt have Calcium which is proven effective to lower blood pressure level.
- It is suggested to consume Yoghurt with lower sugar quality.
- Banana is rich in Potassium which lowers the blood pressure level.
- As we intake Potassium, alternatively, the Sodium content gets excreted through urine.
- Also Potassium have found effective in reducing the tension in the walls of blood vessels.
- It is suggested to consume Pomegranate juice for 4 weeks and once per day, which can lower the blood pressure level.
- Also note that, juicing pomegranate or any other fruit with milk is no effective, as the calcium in milk and other nutrients in fruit fight back each other and both end up being not available.
- Eating garlic increases the nitric oxide level in the body which in turn lowers the blood pressure level by relaxing the blood vessels.
- Include or garnish foods with basil, thyme, cinnamon, rosemary instead of salt.
- Dark chocolate improves the blood flow making the blood pressure normal.
- Fish contains omega-3 fatty acid, which helps to lower the blood pressure level.
Sleep (for Insomnia):
- One ounce of almonds contains Phosphorus, Manganese, Riboflavin and Magnesium.
- Almonds also helps to increase the melatonin level (sleep regulating hormone) and decreases the cortisol level ( stress hormone).
- Contains Vitamin C and K and some decent amount of Folate and Potassium.
- Kiwi helps in the reduction of inflammation and cholesterol due to the high fibre and carotenoid content.
Tart Cherry Juice:
- Contains Vitamin-A, C and Manganese. Also contains Anthocyanins and Flavonols which act as anti-oxidants.
- This helps in increasing the melatonin content which further decreases the insomnia (sleeplessness).
Fatty fish and Chamomile Tea:
- As seen earlier, these two foods not only help to fight fear, but also help with sleeplessness by increasing the serotonin value.
Passion flower tea:
- This contains flavanoid, an anti-oxidant, which helps to reduce inflammation and also boosts immune health and reduces anxiety.
- Contains Apigenin, again an anti-oxidant which gives calming effect.
- Helps in increasing the GABA production.
- Contains Magnesium and Tryptophan, which helps in reducing both insomnia and anxiety.
- Dairy products like cheese, yoghurt and milk contains Calcium which regulates optimum body temperature.
- Using low or fat free dairy products are recommended.
- Foods like melon, strawberries, cucumber and lettuce have high water content which helps us to stay hydrated.
- Apart from these it is necessary to have 8 glasses of water per day.
- Melon and Strawberry contain 92% water while cucumber and lettuce contains 90% water.
Fish and meat:
- Wild salmon, beef and eggs contain all the 8 Vitamin-B.
- These help to boost immune system and aids in the digestion.
- Olive oil is filled with anti-oxidant and aids in digestion.
- Spinach, Almond and Pumpkin seeds are rich in Magnesium.
- These help in good metabolism and nerve functioning.
Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.— Hippocrates
To lead a peaceful and healthy life, mental health is one such utmost important factor to be considered. Keeping our mind steady at times of such world-wide pandemic or even personal problems is very important. It’s normal human tendency to lose control over ourselves, but, if we do not get recovered from it within short period, there are possible chances it could lead to risky decisions.
Moreover, maintaining proper diet, with whatever available around us is mandatory. It is no necessary to have lavish foods as diet. But even a small breakfast with whole lot of fibre will do wonders for our body functioning.
And, maintaining both our mental health and nutrition status of our body at this time of pandemic is of utmost necessity. And to balance them properly is totally in our hands. Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!
A Collaborated article by:
Ms. Madiha Zainab Fathima, II B.Sc Psychology, Institute of Distance Education, University of Madras (Accredited with "A" Grade by NAAC and conferred with the status of 'University with Potential for Excellence' by UGC. IDE was established in 1981.) Chennai - 600005, Tamil Nadu, India.
Ms.R. Zahistha Begum, II B.Sc Food Science and Nutrition, Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women. (Deemed to be University under category ‘A’ by MHRD , Estd. U/S 3 of UGC Act 1956) Re-accredited with ‘A+’ Grade by NAAC, Recognized by UGC under section 12 B. Coimbatore – 641 043, Tamil Nadu, India.
- https://www.healthline.com/health/nosophobia#symptoms Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Crystal Raypole on May 21, 2019
- https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322652#other-foods-that-may-help Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D. — Written by Cathleen Crichton-Stuart on August 1, 2018
- https://www.healthline.com/health/foods-good-for-high-blood-pressure Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD — Written by Mary Ellen Ellis and Rachel Nall — Updated on June 29, 2020
- https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-to-help-you-sleep#section11 Written by Brianna Elliott, RD on October 23, 2017
- https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-nosophobia-2671624#:~:text=Nosophobia%20is%20the%20irrational%20fear,been%20referred%20to%20as%20cyberchondria. By Lisa Fritscher Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD on April 17, 2020
- https://www.healthline.com/health/nosophobia Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Crystal Raypole on May 21, 2019
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 R Zahistha Begum