Medication-related anxiety - pharmacophobia
Pathologist, Dr Symmers published his story in the BMJ in 1973.
Five lives had been tragically lost because of fear. Fungal infections can be severe and even fatal and while amphotericin, a powerful anti-fungal drug was effective, it was known to cause a degree of damage to kidneys. This concern had led to delays in starting treatment, which allowed the infections to become overwhelming. It was both sad and ironic that two of the patients were young doctors.
The year before saw the front page of the Sunday Times be devoted to the “thalidomide disaster”. Perhaps where drugs were concerned, fear stalked the seventies.
Nowadays, things are little better. Three factors currently feed medication-related anxiety. Firstly, doctors and drug companies are obliged to publicise ever more comprehensive lists of terrifying complications – however rare and unlikely. Secondly, the pharmaceutical industry has often been unfairly painted and the victorious battles against HIV and many cancers have been quickly forgotten. Thirdly, we humans are programmed to “see” patterns and so the innocent flu-jab, delivered at the start of the flu season, may be wrongly accused of causing subsequent flu-like symptoms. Association and causation are not the same thing.
It’s tough but true. Modern medicines can never be totally effective. Moreover, no drug is completely free from side effects – even if most are mild and harmless. Because of this, it is easy to see how patients with medication-related anxiety may be tempted to omit their drugs and become “non-compliers”. However, they could be taking a big risk. Fortunately, hypnotherapy can help.
Hypnotic tools are effective at reducing fear and reversing the loss of confidence in modern medicine. Anxiety frequently presents as nausea, who hasn’t been “sick with worry”? Learning the skill of calmness can really transform the whole medication experience.
Modern medicine is miraculous. If medication-related anxiety is preventing you from getting the best treatment, then remember – a phobia is just an unwanted thought-habit. Change really is possible.