We can understand pretty easily when someone has a phobia of snakes, heights, or enclosed spaces; however, it isn't uncommon for a depression therapist to find themselves working with clients who have an enigmatic fear of happiness, otherwise known as cherophobia.
What Does it Mean to Have a Fear of Happiness?
As per the reward devaluation theory, anxious or depressed individuals may abstain from or devalue positive or emotionally rewarding activities based on a past correlation between positive endeavors and negative feelings. These negative feelings can include shame, guilt, disappointment, and frustration.
There are many ways that cherophobia may present itself in a person experiencing depression. These include fear of loss, even if it's just losing happy feelings, and failing to appreciate the causes of happy feelings such as money and friends. An individual struggling with the fear of happiness may also have an inherent belief that they don't deserve happiness, may experience happy feelings at a lower intensity than the average person, and regularly tie happiness to distressing events that happened at the same time.
Common Symptoms of Cherophobia
Any depression therapist worth their salt will know that a person struggling with the fear of happiness isn't necessarily sad. Instead, such people do as much as they can to avoid situations that can elicit positive feelings. This individual may experience anxiety at the suggestion of attending any social gathering, decline to participate in activities that can change their lives positively, and refuse to engage in activities that the average person might call fun.
In that regard, the person's thoughts often revolve around happiness as a sign that something bad might happen soon after. Also, they may believe that showing feelings of happiness is somehow bad for everyone around them and pursuing happiness is a waste of time and effort.
What Causes the Fear of Happiness?
Cherophobia may occur in a person predisposed to thinking that when good things happen, bad ones will soon follow suit. Introverted tendencies can also spark the fear of happiness. Additionally, a perfectionist personality can be associated with cherophobia since perfectionists may believe that happiness or joy are feelings that only unproductive people should have.
How a Depression Therapist Can Help Treat Cherophobia
Since this disorder hasn't been widely studied, there aren't any FDA-approved medications or exclusive treatments available at the moment. However, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation strategies, exposure to happiness-related activities, and hypnotherapy have proven effective in treating some instances of the condition. Therefore, individuals struggling with a fear of happiness can reach out to B'well Counseling Services, a depression therapist in Towson, for informed solutions.
Contact B'well Counseling for an Experience Grief Counselor
B'well Counseling Services is a mental health therapy practice offering online counseling for a full range of therapeutic services including online counseling in Towson, MD and the Greater Baltimore area. We believe in helping people rekindle their curiosity and reconnect to their core selves so that they can truly be well. We value wellness and connection over happiness because we understand that being able to experience the full range of human emotions and experiences is what helps us heal and grow. At B'well, we are dedicated to creating a space for anyone who has ever felt unwelcome because of their identity, orientation, or expression.