Fear of having to leave home

27.10.2020
Sigmund Freud confessed in his letters that he was afraid to travel. He called this type of anxiety "Reiseangst", although to this day, this particular phobia is known differently and defines a condition associated with generalized anxiety disorders.

Anxiety about having to get away from home, from our city and from everything that is known and safe to us. Anguish at the idea of ​​something happening to us far from home. Dizziness, sweating and tachycardia when boarding a train or plane ... As striking as it may seem, hodophobia or fear of traveling is a type of disorder capable of altering the life of those who suffer from it .

It is true that the vast majority relate trips to enriching experiences, the kind that are scheduled as soon as possible. Escaping the routine and discovering new scenarios is a powerful stimulus. However, not everyone experiences it in the same way. There are those who feel a real panic to leave everything that offers them security. And, sometimes, traveling is something that must be done in a forced way, either for work or family reasons.

The anxiety experienced in these situations is invalidating and can be very limiting . At the end of the day, phobias are such unique and strange situations for those who do not suffer from them (or understand them), but so devastating for the person who lives them in their own skin. Let's dive into it.

Hodophobia or fear of traveling: definition, symptoms, causes and therapeutic strategies

Hodophobia or fear of traveling has been part of the human being for a long time. Not everyone feels good crossing their comfort zone. Getting on certain means of transport and reaching new scenarios that are beyond your control and that you do not know raises alarm, concern and fear.

Now, we know that we are faced with a specific type of phobia that is classified in the DSM-5 ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It is an irrational and paralyzing fear capable of limiting social, personal and work aspects of the individual.

However, in hodophobia there is a particularity and that is that each person lives it in a different way , that is, there are those who feel fear of means of transport, others to the simple fact of moving away from home and a few to face a unknown scenario. Obviously, there are many who bring together all these dimensions.

Thus, and although it may cause us a certain contradiction that there are people who do not enjoy travel, there is an aspect that we must remember. Phobias affect 1 in 23 people; They are the most common psychiatric disorder and the most and least suffer from some kind of limiting apprehension.

What are the symptoms?

Like all phobias, hodophobia or fear of traveling manifests itself with very heterogeneous emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms. Let's see the most common.

Emotional manifestations

  • Fear of taking any means of transport that takes us away from home.
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen to us on that trip.
  • Anguish at the idea of ​​leaving what is safe for us.
  • Ashamed to comment with other people what happens to us.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Making it difficult to take care of everything that involves traveling , our thoughts pile up, we get stuck when we get to the airport, when we take the train.
  • We imagine a thousand negative situations : accidents, that we get lost when we arrive in that city, that we are robbed, that we will not find the hotel ...
  • Difficulty not thinking about something else days or weeks before making that trip.
  • States of confusion and mental block .

Physical symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain and intestinal disorders.
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks can appear .

What are the causes of hodophobia or fear of traveling?

Knowing the cause behind a phobia is always difficult. Studies such as those carried out at the Institute of Neuroscience of La Timone (France) indicate that, on average, these conditions tend to present in two ways:

  • We can have phobias with a traumatic origin. That is, in the case of hodophobia or fear of traveling, it could be the cause of a bad experience , such as having been the victim or witness of a terrorist attack on a trip in the past.
  • On the other hand, they can also arise without a specific trigger (non-specific phobias). Although in most cases there may be genetic, family, environmental or developmental factors that always lay the foundations for these situations.

How is this type of phobia treated?

Hodophobia or fear of flying is usually associated with other phobias, such as the fear of flying. In more extreme cases we can even find ourselves in agoraphobia situations. However, something that we often find is that this type of phobia is related to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

By this we mean that it is common to find complex and very particular situations, hence the importance of a good diagnosis. On the other hand, with regard to the therapeutic approach, it is appropriate to use a multidimensional approach. On the one hand, psychotropic drugs such as anxiolytics can be useful .

On the other hand, in all cases psychological therapy is beneficial and specifically the following strategies:

  • Progressive exposure to phobic stimuli. The exposure therapy is to bring the person to the stimuli that generate anxiety to manage emotions and thoughts. This technique always acquires a higher success rate when it is part of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Cognitive restructuring aimed at combating catastrophic ideas that these people may present.
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques.

To conclude, it is important not to underestimate fears, especially when they begin to limit our lives . All phobia is the result of an anxiety disorder that we must treat, otherwise, our ability to function normally will be affected.

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