Metathesiophobia (Fear Of Change)

Metathesiophobia (fear of change) is often associated with the fear of moving (tropophobia). The term metathesiophobia originates from three Greek words – meta (change), thesis (setting), and phobos (fear).

Metathesiophobia overview

Change is the only constant in life, as the saying goes. Everything around us changes and most people go on with their lives without even realizing it.

Although apprehension is normal, there may be a fear linked to change that’s neither logical nor wanted. This fear is called metathesiophobia. A person with this fear simply may reject anything that’s different from what they have. Such a person probably has a comfort zone he or she doesn’t wish to upset by bringing anything unknown into their lives.

If you have metathesiophobia, remember that it’s neither a sign of weakness or mental illness. Many individuals suffer from this fear but the important thing is to accept that change is inevitable and, if necessary, seek out treatment to guide you through the challenges faced during a change.

Symptoms of metathesiophobia

Every Metathesiophobia case is a bit different. This is because the crux of the issue – the images, sounds, movies, dialog and patterns of thinking that are internally linked to changes vary with people.

But although the ‘internal representations’ vary with people, there are several common symptoms associated with those who fear change (metathesiophobes):

  • A feeling of out of control anxiety when you’re exposed to changes or think about them
  • The belief that you must avoid changes anyhow
  • The inability to lead a normal life due to your anxiety
  • Often knowing that your phobias are exaggerated or unreasonable but feeling unable to control them

The symptoms of metathesiophobia can be physical, mental and emotional. The fear and anxiety can develop from slight apprehension to a full panic attack.

Physical symptoms:

  • Smothering sensation or shortness of breath
  • Pounding heart, accelerated heart rate or palpitations
  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Sweating
  • Fear of choking
  • Dizziness, shaking
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Fear of choking
  • Stomach distress or nausea
  • Cold or hot flashes
  • Tingling sensations or numbness
  • Feeling unsteady, faint, dizzy or lightheaded

Mental symptoms:

  • Fear of going crazy or losing control
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of fainting
  • Really bad movies and/or images of changes
  • Inability to think about anything else apart from the fear
  • The feeling of being disconnected from yourself or feelings of unreality

Emotional symptoms:

  • Anticipatory anxiety – constantly worrying about impending events that include changes
  • Desire to flee – a strong instinct to escape the situation
  • Terror – an overwhelming and persistent fear/phobia of the same

Causes of metathesiophobia

The phobia for change is normal and evolutionary in human beings. Since the beginning of time, humans have liked routine as it helps them avoid the fear of whatever they aren’t used to or can’t deal with.

But the normal phobia for change develops into a full-blown crisis when it’s irrational, very intense and persistent. Our internal predispositions, mainly genetics and heredity, teach us to oppose change largely to always feel on top of things.

Other metathesiophobia causes include:

Personal emotional distress resulting from many life changes may trigger metathesiophobia. A kid who has suffered the loss of a loved one or has moved several times in short intervals could also have undergone changes in lifestyle or financial situation due to these changes. Therefore, this can make him or her oppose any type of change even in adulthood.

Fear of meeting new people, fear of not being able to adapt, or a phobia for environmental changes may also hinder one’s adaptability. Other common emotions associated with metathesiophobia include insecurity and guilt.

Metathesiophobia treatment

If you think you’ve got a phobia, begin by speaking to your physician who can suggest a therapist. Your therapist will likely treat you with exposure therapy, although they may also recommend other treatments.

Exposure therapy

This is a type of cognitive-behavior therapy, which involves putting oneself into increasingly stressful situations involving a particular phobia and overcoming the phobia with new learning.

Behavioral therapy

This involves one-on-one sessions with someone trained to treat phobias. The idea behind this approach is to expose and gradually desensitize one from metathesiophobia. In the sessions, one learns to bear the anxiety caused by exposure thanks to relaxation techniques.

The degree of exposure is slowly increased during the sessions. For instance, the initial sessions could involve only looking at or imagining photos of changes.

Your therapist could ask you to deal with your thoughts about whatever is happening. For instance, when the anxiety behind the fear starts, and you experience dizziness, you can automatically get alarmed and think you’re in trouble. Your therapist will help you replace this thought with a more rational one such as “It’s only dizziness and I’ll be okay”.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an option for some people. This involves exercises that change the bad patterns of thinking you’ve developed and the behavior resulting from them.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, you can expect the following from a good therapist – if you are “following the prescribed treatment plan carefully”.

  • Evident improvement in 10-20 weeks
  • A massive improvement within a year

Talk therapy

There are different types of talk and the effectiveness of a therapy is of course crucially dependent on the person you’re working with.

Your physician may recommend a psychiatrist. Most psychiatrists are definitely considered able to treat metathesiophobia and some are specialized in treating phobias. The process is generally slow and the results are often poor, however, since as skilled and dedicated as the majority of psychiatrists are, they may not have the most effective techniques to deal with serious phobias.

Hypnotherapy (Hypnoanalysis)

Hypnotherapy (Hypnoanalysis) is a form of therapy in which one, with the help of a trained therapist, has their innermost thoughts opened to suggestion in order to change one or more patterns of behavior.

Once the subconscious mind is directly spoken to, it might be possible to identify the issue behind the fear and introduce positive suggestions and new ideas. These positive suggestions can then help you make your desired changes, like being able to visit the doctor freely.

Some people don’t like other people messing with their minds but hypnotherapy works fast and is thought to be safe.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

In neuro-linguistic programming, a therapist will analyze all the words and phrases you use in explaining symptoms or issues about your health. They’ll examine your body movements and facial expressions. After determining issues in your perception, your therapist will assist you to understand the main cause.

Your therapist will assist you to remodel your mental associations and thoughts to fix your predetermined notions. These predetermined notions may be hindering your success.

Energy Psychology

This is a form of therapy that employs various techniques, including yoga, energy medicine, qi gong and tai chi, which teach a person simple steps for turning around their life. The techniques excite points of energy on the skin surface which, when combined with specific psychological techniques, can alter the brain’s electrochemistry.


Medicine may be prescribed for metathesiophobia (fear of change) but please remember that medicines can cause side effects and/or severe withdrawal symptoms. It’s also vital to remember that medicines won’t cure any kind of phobia. At best, they just temporarily suppress the symptoms.

Prevention of Metathesiophobia

There are a few practical things one can to prevent metathesiophobia. One can be to change their attitude to one with a positive mindset on change. They should accept the change and direct it for their own benefit or just go with the flow.

For those who follow the law of attraction, having positive thoughts about any change will attract a positive outcome from the change.