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How to Handle and Overcome Pharmacophobia

Are you afraid of taking medicine? There is a phobia called pharmacophobia caused by an irrational fear of ingesting medications in that situation. In addition to palpitations and panic attacks, patients who have pharmacophobia also experience racing heart rates, trembling, nausea, and even weakness when forced to take medications. All of these symptoms result from an overactive “fight or flight” system in the body.


In severe cases, patients with pharmacophobia may stop taking medications altogether, causing harm to themselves. It is also particularly difficult to treat due to the nature of the phobia; the idea of taking a pill is what causes the anxiety in the first place.


You can overcome your fear of medications. Here are some strategies you can use to help overcome anxiety.


Find Out How Pharmacophobia Started

A pharmacophobic usually develops this phobia after having a negative experience with the drug. Perhaps they experienced an adverse reaction or allergic reaction to the medication, or perhaps a loved one became very ill or even died after taking drugs. A person’s brain can draw connections between death and medication, even if the two are not directly connected. Patients may fear the same outcome. Psychotherapists call this “fear of the fear” itself.


Can you recall the first time you were afraid of taking medication? You may be able to figure out what’s causing your fear by tracing when it started. Try to recall negative experiences you have had with medications. What were your reactions? Don’t assume that you will have the same experience as someone else who has had a negative experience.


Take Your First Dose at the Pharmacy

Do you find it difficult to swallow pills at home? The fear of becoming extremely ill after taking medication for the first time in a place where they cannot get medical help is common among patients with pharmacophobia. Even if a phone is present or someone else is watching them, a person with an extreme phobia may experience fear. You may not be able to avoid the medication, depending on your condition.


Take the first dose at the pharmacy instead. You may feel less anxious and more confident knowing that your medication will not harm you with medical staff on-site. At the very least, you’ll get support if anything goes wrong.


Try Talk Therapy

You should seek outside help if you cannot overcome your phobia on your own. People who have pharmacophobia can benefit from cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). Changes in how fear is perceived and its outcome are the first steps. Staying present and mindful are the second steps.


Finding the right therapist is critical, especially when dealing with phobias where regressions and triggers may cause more harm than good if not handled appropriately. It is also essential that patients and therapists gel well (both clinically and personally). It’s okay to consult with more than one therapist until you find the right one for you.


Contact a Compounding Pharmacy

In many cases of pharmacophobia, the phobia is triggered more by a specific method of administering the medication than by the medication itself. Many patients have trouble swallowing pills, but they respond well to intramuscular injections. Others may have no trouble swallowing pills but have difficulty using topicals. Patients can be discouraged from sticking with treatment even if they fear choking on medication.


We don’t always understand why phobias behave as they do. Due to their inherently irrational nature, they can be difficult to understand. It may be easier to accommodate them than to eliminate them.


The compounding pharmacy might be able to help you if your phobia is associated with a specific dosing method. This is because they can recreate the medication from scratch in a less stressful and easier to take way. Compounding Pharmacists may make pills smaller and easier to swallow, change topicals into patches, or combine all of your medicines into a single dose so you won’t have to go through the process again and again. Taking your medication dosage in a way that works for you is much simpler with compounded medications.


For children with pharmacophobia, compounding is especially useful since a tasty medication may be more acceptable than one that’s bitter or sour. To make the medicine more palatable, pharmacists can add flavourings.



Are you unsure how to manage your pharmacophobia? Talk to a pharmacist. If you decide not to take your medication or refuse it, they can be a valuable resource to you as you move forward. You shouldn’t feel ashamed about pharmacophobia – most patients eventually get over their fears. You can, too!

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