What is Psychrophobia?

Psychrophobia is the abnormal and irrational fear of cold, and includes fear of cold weather, frost, winter, or cold things or places. This phobia is also known as Cheimophobia, Cheimatophobia, or Frigophobia.

Fear of cold is the direct opposite of Thermophobia, an irrational fear of heat.

In extreme cases, phobics will tend to keep their houses very warm, overdress, and avoid eating or drinking anything cold or with ice. Sufferers with this phobia will prefer to live in tropical climates and will avoid air-conditioned places or living in colder countries where winter is present.

Psychrophobia is related to Cryophobia (fear of extreme cold, ice, or frost) and Pagophobia (fear of ice or frost).

The root word 'psychr' is Greek meaning 'cold' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Psychrophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

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Causes of Psychrophobia

Psychrophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well-understood, are driven by social anxiety, and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Psychrophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

While previous trauma may certainly be a factor, real concerns about severe cold are normal and rational, as freezing temperatures can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and even death. Snowboarding accidents or car accidents with loss of control due to ice are genuine concerns as well, for instance.

For others, a deep fear of cold weather may be due to increased ‘cabin fever’ and loneliness.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Psychrophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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