Fear of Everything: Does Pantophobia Exist?

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Updated:

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Fear of everything is a type of phobia and a common mental health condition that affect millions of people around the world.

While it’s normal to feel worried or anxious from time to time, it can become problematic when those feelings of being scared of everything to start to interfere with our daily lives.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the signs and symptoms of fear of everything phobia and how to know when it’s time to seek help.

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Fear of everything: What is it?

Pantophobia, also known as panophobia and omniphobia, is a fear of everything or a fear of experiencing fear itself. It is an extreme and debilitating form of anxiety that can significantly impact a person’s daily life. What are the symptoms of Pantophobia?

Pantophobia can manifest in various ways, including panic attacks, avoidance behaviors, and physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and rapid heart rate.

People with pantophobia may also experience irrational and persistent thoughts or worries about potential dangers in their environment. These symptoms can cause significant distress and interfere with a person’s capability to function normally in their daily life.

What causes fear of everything?

The exact causes of fear of everything or pantophobia are not fully understood. However, it is believed to be a complex condition that both genetic and environmental factors can influence.

For example, some researchers have suggested that a traumatic event or experience, such as abuse or a natural disaster, can trigger the development of fear of everything. Additionally, some studies have found a correlation between pantophobia and other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and agoraphobia.

Correlation with anxiety

Anxiety is a normal response to stress and danger. When we encounter a threatening situation, our bodies release hormones like adrenaline that help us respond quickly and effectively.

This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. However, when our bodies stay in a heightened state of alertness even when there’s no imminent danger, it can lead to feelings of anxiety.

There are different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others. While the symptoms of each disorder can vary, they all involve feelings of fear, worry, and uncertainty that can be difficult to control.

Fear of everything and various types of anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by excessive and persistent worry, fear, or apprehension about everyday situations or activities.

It is a typical human experience to feel anxious from time to time, especially in situations that are new or potentially dangerous. However, when anxiety becomes overwhelming and interferes with daily life, it can be considered an anxiety disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Separation Anxiety are all different types of anxiety disorders with distinct symptoms and features.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive worry and anxiety about everyday life events and activities. People with GAD may worry about a variety of things, such as health, work, finances, or relationships.

These worries are often challenging to control and may be accompanied by physical symptoms like fatigue, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.

Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by intense fear and anxiety in social situations, such as speaking in public, meeting new people, or performing in front of others.

People with a social anxiety disorder may worry about being judged or embarrassed and avoid social situations altogether. Physical symptoms can include sweating, blushing, and trembling.

Panic Disorder is characterized by sudden and recurrent panic attacks. These attacks are intense periods of fear or discomfort, accompanied by physical symptoms like heart palpitations, sweating, and shortness of breath. Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly and may lead to avoiding situations that trigger them.

Separation Anxiety Disorder is a psychological condition characterized by intense and overwhelming feelings of distress, anxiety, and fear that occur when an individual is separated from a person or a place that they have formed a strong emotional attachment to.

This condition often manifests in children who are separated from their parents, but it can also affect adults who are separated from their partners, close friends, or even their pets. Separation anxiety can cause a range of symptoms, including panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, excessive worry, and physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches.

When you have set out to find out more about fear of everything, you have now also learned about the correlation with different anxiety disorders and what they mean.

While the above conditions share some symptoms, they differ in their specific features and the situations that trigger anxiety and various fears. A general and persistent sense of worry characterizes GAD. At the same time, social anxiety disorder is focused on specific social situations, and panic disorder involves sudden and intense episodes of fear or panic.

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Treatment for anxiety disorders may involve medication, therapy, or a combination of both. It is essential to seek help for people with anxiety disorders.

One recent study found that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a practical, acceptance-based behavioral therapy for anxiety. However, there are treatment barriers (eg, financial, geographical, and attitudinal) that prevent people from accessing it.

To overcome these barriers, internet-delivered ACT (iACT) interventions have been developed in recent years. These interventions use websites to deliver ACT information and skill training exercises on the Web, either as pure self-help or with therapist guidance.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have an anxiety disorder, early intervention can help manage symptoms and improve overall functioning.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help individuals develop psychological flexibility by accepting their thoughts and feelings and committing to behaviors that align with their values.

Research has shown that ACT can effectively treat various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. The success rate of ACT varies depending on the individual and the severity of their condition, but overall, it has been shown to be a promising approach in helping individuals improve their mental health and quality of life.

What does fear of everything feel like?

Female Looking For Signs Of Anxiety

Fear of everything phobia can manifest in a variety of ways, both physically and emotionally. Some common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worrying: Worry is a natural human response to uncertainty or potential danger. However, for people with anxiety, worry can become excessive and interfere with daily life. This can include worrying about things that are unlikely to happen or that are beyond their control. Excessive worry can also be accompanied by physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Restlessness: Feeling restless or on edge is another common symptom of anxiety. This can involve difficulty sitting still, fidgeting, pacing, or constantly feeling the need to be doing something. People with anxiety may feel like they have a sense of inner tension or nervousness that they can’t shake.
  • Difficulty sleeping: Sleep problems are often associated with anxiety. People with anxiety may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep. This can be due to persistent worry or physical symptoms such as muscle tension or racing thoughts.
  • Physical symptoms: Anxiety can also manifest in physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, trembling, sweating, or digestive issues. These symptoms can be distressing and impact daily life.
  • Panic attacks: Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear or terror that can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. Panic attacks can be triggered by specific situations or can come out of the blue.
  • Avoidance behaviors: Avoidance is a common coping mechanism for people with anxiety. This can involve avoiding situations or activities that trigger feelings of anxiety or fear. While avoidance may provide temporary relief, it can also reinforce anxiety in the long term.
  • Irritability: Anxiety can also cause irritability or feeling easily frustrated or agitated. People with anxiety may be more sensitive to stressors or feel like they’re constantly on edge.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Persistent worry or anxiety can make it hard to concentrate or focus on tasks. People with anxiety may find themselves easily distracted or struggling to complete tasks.
  • Self-consciousness: People with anxiety may be overly concerned about what others think of them or worry about being judged or criticized. This can lead to self-consciousness or avoidance of social situations.
  • Fatigue: Anxiety can be physically and emotionally exhausting. People with anxiety may feel tired, sluggish, or low energy due to the impact of persistent anxiety on the body and mind.

Anxiety disorders can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, affecting their relationships, work, and daily activities.

It’s important to note that when discovering all about fear of everything and not everyone with anxiety and fear of everything will experience all of these symptoms and that everyone’s experience with anxiety can be different.

Let’s review the additional data representing adults in the U.S. who have indicated they experience high levels of mental health discomfort:

Chart of adults with high levels of psychological distress

Data chart displaying the percentage of adults (U.S.) who have reported high levels of psychological distress in at least one of four surveys.

According to Pew Research Center, trouble sleeping is one of the most common forms of distress measured in recent surveys. In the latest survey, about two-thirds of adults (64%) reported trouble sleeping at least some or a little of the time during the past week. A similar share (61%) said they had felt nervous, anxious, or on edge.

Experiences with depression and loneliness also register with sizable shares of Americans. In the most recent survey, 46% of adults said they had felt depressed at least one or two days during the past week, and 42% said they had felt lonely.

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Can constant fear make you feel like you’re going crazy?

If you’re experiencing any of the above anxiety symptoms or you are simply constantly feeling the fear of everything that interferes with your daily life, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. While it’s understandable to feel hesitant or embarrassed about seeking help, know there is no shame in reaching out for support.

Numerous research studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of therapy for treating anxiety.

Some of the most commonly studied forms of therapy include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

CBT is an effective treatment for GAD, typically leading to reductions in worry, and a study has shown that such therapy is equal to pharmaceutical treatment and more effective 6 months after study completion.

Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you better understand your symptoms and develop strategies for managing them.

In some cases, medication may also be recommended as part of your treatment plan. Additionally, many self-care practices can help reduce anxiety, such as exercise, meditation, and mindfulness, which we will touch on later in the article.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, he turned into a butterfly.”

— ANONYMOUS PROVERB


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Role of trauma in the development of persistent fear

Trauma, whether caused by a single event or ongoing experiences, can profoundly impact a person’s emotional and psychological well-being and lead to a range of symptoms, including fear and anxiety.

Traumatic experiences can leave lasting imprints on the brain, causing changes in how the brain processes and responds to information. For example, traumatic experiences can activate the fight-or-flight response, causing the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, repeated activation of the fight-or-flight response can lead to chronic stress, contributing to the development of anxiety disorders.

It is essential to recognize that trauma can take many forms and can be caused by various experiences, including abuse, neglect, violence, natural disasters, and accidents. In addition, trauma can have other effects on different people, depending on factors such as age, gender, culture, and previous experiences.

Fortunately, effective treatments are available for trauma-related anxiety and other mental health issues. These treatments, which can include psychotherapy, medication, and self-help techniques such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises, can help individuals to process and heal from traumatic experiences and develop coping strategies for managing fear and anxiety.

Tips to stop being afraid of everything

Fear can be a normal and healthy emotion that helps us stay alert and respond to danger. However, when fear becomes excessive and overwhelming, it can negatively impact our quality of life when seeking help is recommended.

If you’re someone who feels scared of everything, you know how debilitating this can be. You might be missing out on opportunities, avoiding social situations, spending an excessive amount of time on social media, or living in a constant state of anxiety.

The good news is that there are ways to overcome fear and reclaim control of your life. Here are some tips to help you stop being scared of everything:

Understand the Root of Your Fear: The first step in overcoming fear is to understand where it’s coming from. Fear can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as past traumatic experiences, a lack of control, or even genetics. Take some time to reflect on what situations or triggers make you feel scared. By understanding the root of your fear, you can start to identify patterns and develop strategies to overcome it.

Challenge Your Thoughts: Often, fear is driven by negative thoughts and beliefs that we hold about ourselves or the world around us. These thoughts can be irrational or exaggerated, but they feel very real to us. To overcome fear, it’s important to challenge these thoughts and replace them with more rational and positive ones. This can involve talking to a therapist, practicing positive self-talk, or using cognitive-behavioral techniques to reframe your thinking. By changing the way you think about fear, you can change the way you respond to it and start to feel more confident and in control.

Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a technique that involves being fully present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to recognize when fear is creeping in and take steps to calm yourself down. This might involve deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply taking a few minutes to focus on your surroundings. By staying present and grounded, you can reduce the intensity of your fear response and start to feel more in control while allowing thoughts and emotions to come and go without judging them. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to achieve a sense of calm and present-moment awareness, which can help to bring down anxiety and promote a sense of well-being.

Deep Breathing: One effective mindfulness exercise is deep breathing. This exercise involves taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose and exhaling at a slow pace through the mouth. As you inhale, focus on filling your belly with air, and as you exhale, imagine the tension leaving your body. Repeat this exercise for several minutes, and try to focus your attention solely on your breath. Add meditation music if it helps you relax deeper and achieve greater focus on your breath. See what works best for you. As you notice you become better at this exercise, progressively increase your time to more extended periods.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This exercise involves tensing and releasing each muscle group in your body, one at a time. Begin by tightening the muscles in your toes, then release them and move up to your calves, thighs, abdomen, chest, arms, and so on until you have tensed and released each muscle group. This exercise helps to release tension and promote relaxation throughout the body.

It’s important to remember that mindfulness and relaxation exercises are not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s crucial to experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you.

The best results are achieved by those who stick with it. With continuous practice, mindfulness and relaxation exercises can be powerful tools for managing anxiety and promoting overall well-being. Alternatively, explore some free mental health resources as well.

When to get help for fear of everything phobia?

Phone A Friend Paper For Therapy To Treat Anxiety

Feeling scared all the time is a common symptom of anxiety disorder. Both internal and external factors can cause it. People with Pantophobia and other anxiety disorders often struggle to control their fear and feel overwhelmed by it. They might feel like they can’t escape the fear or that danger lurks around every corner. Fortunately, there are ways to manage and take steps toward overcoming these feelings.

A recent study successfully demonstrated that 24-hour rest-activity characteristics from wrist-wearable devices could potentially predict adverse posttraumatic neuropsychiatric symptoms following traumatic stress exposure.

Additionally, understanding the causes of feeling scared all the time, recognizing signs that indicate heightened anxiety, and seeking help from an experienced therapist are all essential steps toward addressing this issue.

Anxiety is a common mental health condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. If you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms, know that you’re not alone and that help is available. By recognizing the signs, you can learn to manage your anxiety and live a healthier life.

Treatment for Pantophobia

Treatment for pantophobia typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help alleviate some of the physical symptoms of pantophobia, such as panic attacks and rapid heart rate.

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), helps individuals with pantophobia learn coping strategies for managing their fear and anxiety.

In addition to standard treatments, there are alternative therapies that may also be helpful for managing pantophobia symptoms. Mindfulness-based practices, such as meditation and yoga, have been found to reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.

Additionally, some individuals with pantophobia may benefit from exposure therapy, a form of psychotherapy that involves gradually exposing the person to their fears in a safe and controlled environment.


References

  1. National Institute of Mental Health (2021). Anxiety disorders. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders
  2. National Library of Medicine, Internet-Delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Treatment: Systematic Review (2019). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30694201/
  3. National Library of Medicine, Cognitive-behavioral therapy for generalized anxiety (2017). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28867944/
  4. Khanna, S., & Ranganathan, S. (2020). Mindfulness and its positive impact on mental health: a conceptual review. Journal of Health and Allied Sciences NU, 10(03), 82-91
  5. A-Tjak, J. G. L., Davis, M. L., Morina, N., Powers, M. B., Smits, J. A. J., & Emmelkamp, P. M. G. (2015). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for clinically relevant mental and physical health problems. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25547522/
  6. At least four-in-ten U.S. adults have faced high levels of psychological distresshttps://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/12/12/at-least-four-in-ten-u-s-adults-have-faced-high-levels-of-psychological-distress-during-covid-19-pandemic/
  7. Utility of Wrist-Wearable Data for Assessing Pain, Sleep, and Anxiety Outcomes After Traumatic Stress Exposurehttps://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2800174?resultClick=1
  8. Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research, 36(5), 427-440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584580/
  9. Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication–Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20855043/

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About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a medical writer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with nine years working as a therapist. I hold a Master's in Clinical Psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social connections are vital to mental well-being, and I am dedicated to fostering communities of support and empathy. By sharing knowledge and personal insights, I strive to create a more compassionate world. Social

4 thoughts on “Fear of Everything: Does Pantophobia Exist?”

  1. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be
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  2. I learned that while pantophobia is sometimes used colloquially to describe a wide range of fears, it’s not currently recognized as an official diagnosis in the mental health community. The author explains that most phobias tend to be more specific, focusing on particular objects, situations, or experiences.

    However, the article also acknowledged that for those dealing with severe anxiety disorders, it can certainly feel like they are afraid of everything. The constant sense of dread and worry can be all-consuming and impact every aspect of life. I appreciated the author’s balanced approach, validating the very real struggles of those with pervasive anxiety while also providing a more nuanced clinical perspective. They emphasized the importance of seeking professional help and explored evidence-based treatments like CBT and exposure therapy.

    Reply
  3. This idea of being afraid of everything deeply resonates with me. I struggle with anxiety that often manifests as irrational worries about potential dangers, no matter how unlikely they are to actually happen. It’s exhausting to go through life feeling tense and on edge all the time. I think there are a few factors that contribute to this mentality of fearing everything – the 24/7 news cycle that focuses heavily on tragedies, violence and instability; social media echo chambers that amplify fears; feeling a lack of control over global events. Practicing mindfulness, limiting consumption of sensationalized media stories, and challenging irrational thoughts have helped me feel better day-to-day. But it’s an ongoing process to undo learned thought patterns. I have compassion for others who also deal with intrusive worries, as I know how disruptive and stressful it can be when anxiety takes over.

    Reply

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