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Representative image

Living in fear of happiness: Understanding Cherophobia

From avoiding events of joy to feeling guilty, let's take a look at what Cherophobia is all about

Alisha D’souza, a 38-year-old event management professional from Hyderabad, believes that things go wrong each time something positive happens in her life. She says, “Everytime I scored high marks in one exam, I would perform badly in other papers. Many similar situations where I've underperformed have occured. I am cautious of expressing my happiness.” D’souza may be suffering from ‘cherophobia’, an irrational fear of happiness.

According to Dr. Prerna Kohli, clinical psychologist, and founder of MindTribe, "People with this condition connect feeling good with something bad happening in the future. This fear stems from tough situations they faced as kids. The cultural belief adds to a fear of happiness, since individuals may feel compelled to downplay their achievements or keep them to themselves.”

Symptoms

Some medical experts classify cherophobia as a form of anxiety disorder. It is an irrational or heightened sense of fear related to the perceived threat. The anxiety is related to participation in activities that would be thought to make you happy. Someone who has cherophobia isn’t necessarily a sad person, but instead is one who avoids activities that could lead to happiness or joy. Here are a few symptoms associated with cherophobia:

● Experiencing anxiety at the thought of going to a joyful social gathering

● Rejecting opportunities that could lead to positive life changes

● Refusal to participate in activities that most would call fun

Some of the key thoughts a person who experiences cherophobia may express are:

● Being happy means something bad will happen to me

● Happiness makes you a bad or worse person

● Showing that you’re happy is bad for you or for your friends and family

● Trying to be happy is a waste of time and effort

Treatment

Cherophobia hasn’t been largely detailed or studied as a separate disorder, there aren’t FDA-approved medications or other definitive treatments that a person may pursue to treat the condition. However, some suggested treatments include:

● Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), a technique that helps a person recognise faulty lines of thinking and identify behaviours that can help them change

● Relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing, journaling, or exercising

● Hypnotherapy–increased relaxation that allows for improved concentration

How to manage cherophobia

Preeta Ganguli, a trauma-informed therapist says, “Addressing the core experiences that brought in this fearful relationship with happiness is extremely important.” Here are few steps to deal with itH

● Talk it out with a therapist

● Take small steps to experience happiness so that feelings of being overwhelmed do not take over

● Try engaging in calming activities like deep breathing to be at ease

● Exercise patience since it will take some time and practice

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The New Indian Express
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