What Is Fear of Being Forgotten?

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Most people hope to be remembered fondly by their loved ones, and it's natural to occasionally worry about being forgotten. But for some, the fear of being forgotten or ignored can be thought of as a phobia.

Athazagoraphobia is an unusual or abnormal fear of not being remembered. It can also include the fear of forgetting someone or something. If your fear involves being forgotten by a specific person or social group, it might be considered part of a type of social phobia.

This article will discuss the characteristics of a fear of being forgotten, as well as the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this phobia.

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Defining a Fear of Being Forgotten

Athazagoraphobia is an intense or irrational fear of being forgotten, or of forgetting someone or something. It may also include a fear of being ignored or replaced.

In some cases, this condition can be considered part of social phobia. An estimated 15 million Americans live with a social phobia. A social phobia is when you have an irrational fear of being judged or rejected in a specific social situation.

People with athazagoraphobia may experience debilitating anxiety, stress, or panic at just the thought of being forgotten. You may also experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as nausea, rapid heart rate, or even a full-blown panic attack when confronted with your fear.

The fear of being forgotten may also be related to specific worries about memory loss, such as a fear of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia. This fear may arise while caring for someone with this condition.

Symptoms

As with most phobias, the fear of being forgotten can present with both mental and physical symptoms. People with athazagoraphobia may experience symptoms if they are actually forgotten or ignored in a social situation, or when faced with the thought of being forgotten or forgetting someone or something.

Symptoms of athazagoraphobia may include:

  • Morbid fear and anxiety when they are ignored or forgotten or perceive that they could be forgotten
  • Intense apprehension and anxiety just thinking about being forgotten
  • Intense anxiety that is out of proportion to the actual risk of being forgotten
  • Experiencing feelings of impending disaster or doom when faced with a situation that evokes the worry of loss of memory or not being remembered
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoidance of social situations in which there's a chance of being forgotten or ignored
  • Aches and pains from tension in certain areas of the body
  • Panic attack

Causes

Phobias trigger a person's stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight response. There are several reasons this stress response may be triggered by the fear of being forgotten, including:

  • Genetics: Certain genes that are passed down by biological parents are known to play a role in phobias and other anxiety disorders.
  • Observed learning experience: A person might have learned to fear being forgotten if a parent or sibling feared the same thing.
  • Direct learning experience: A history of trauma or a traumatic experience such as being forgotten, left behind or abandoned, or the loss of a parent or caregiver, can contribute to a fear of being forgotten.
  • Informational learning experience: Being exposed to people who are losing their memory, such as caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's, may also lead to the development of a fear of being forgotten.

Diagnosis

To obtain a diagnosis of athazagoraphobia, a mental health professional or healthcare provider will refer to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the American Psychiatric Association's official handbook.

The DSM-5 doesn’t recognize athazagoraphobia as a mental health condition, but the condition may qualify as a specific phobia.

The manual uses the following diagnostic criteria to diagnose specific phobias:

  • The fear is persistent and lasts for greater than six months.
  • The fear is actively avoided and almost always causes immediate anxiety.
  • The fear is out of proportion to the actual risk danger of the situation.
  • The fear causes significant disruption to essential areas of function, including social and occupational functioning.

Treatment

There are a variety of treatment options that can help patients who have phobias. A licensed mental healthcare professional will create a treatment plan based on the symptoms you present.

Some treatment options used to address a fear of being forgotten may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a type of talk therapy that involves changing one's thoughts and behaviors. It helps people learn to better identify and shift the maladaptive (problematic) thinking patterns and behaviors related to their specific phobia. CBT is considered a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders.
  • Exposure therapy: This treatment has been the primary therapeutic treatment for phobias for years. It generally involves gradually exposing a person to their phobias in a safe way to decrease avoidance and reduce fear over time.
  • Mindfulness mediation: This is a type of meditation practice that focuses on being fully present in the current moment. It can help you manage levels of anxiety and fear.
  • Medication: Sometimes medications are used to decrease the anxiety symptoms that are part of a phobia, or if there are co-occurring symptoms of depression or an additional anxiety disorder. Medications may include anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depressants.

Summary

The fear of being forgotten is called athazagoraphobia. When a person has this condition, there is an extreme fear of being forgotten, or of not remembering someone or something. There are treatment options such as mindfulness techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication. Working with a licensed mental healthcare professional can help you manage this condition.

A Word From Verywell

If you occasionally worry about not being remembered by your loved ones, that is natural. However, if the fear of not being remembered starts to interfere with your ability to function or affects your quality of life, it's important to seek help from a healthcare professional.

Working with a licensed mental healthcare professional can help give you the tools to manage your anxiety and other symptoms related to your phobia. You may also want to consider joining a support group that is aligned with your specific phobia, which can help you navigate this condition.

Remember that you are not alone, that you are a valued and beloved member of your community, and that there is help to conquer this fear available.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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