Who has heard of cherophobia? Cherophobia is an irrational aversion to happiness, making sufferers afraid to participate in activities that may bring fun, joy, or happiness. Although it’s not considered a diagnosable mental disorder, researchers have identified cherophobia as a version of an anxiety disorder. Some symptoms associated with cherophobia include:
• Increased anxiety at the thought of social events (parties, concerts, etc.)
• Refusing opportunities that could lead to positive changes due to anxiety around something bad happening afterward
• Refusing to participate in activities that would be fun
• Belief that being happy means something bad will happen
• Thinking that being happy is a waste of time and effort
Research reveals that certain types of people may be more prone to experiencing cherophobia, such as:
• Those who have experienced a traumatic physical or emotional event in the past. They may reject fun activities due to having anxiety about bad things happening to them. They may feel a tendency to keep themselves in familiar situations in order to allow more predictability and a sense of control around what will happen to them.
• Introverts. They are also more likely to experience cherophobia since they prefer to do things alone, are more reserved, and may feel discomfort in groups of people and loud settings.
• Perfectionists, who exhibit irrational beliefs that happiness is only for lazy people and therefore may avoid activities that seemingly are unproductive but could bring them happiness.
Cherophobia hasn’t been extensively researched, and approved and effective medications are not yet available. However, several therapies have been shown to help improve symptoms.
• Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a person suffering from cherophobia to identify irrational and false thoughts and behaviors.
• Exposure therapy can also help a person slowly expose themselves to happy situations while tolerating the associated anxiety and noticing that the happiness does not bring adverse effects.
• Hypnotherapy can be used to reprogram parts of the brain associating happiness with bad events.
• Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation/visualization, journaling, and exercise can also help improve symptoms.
Although cherophobia can be difficult to live with, treatments can help improve symptoms and quality of life. Speaking with a mental health professional can allow a better understanding of feelings and guide you toward the right treatment options.
Reference: Healthline, Cherophobia: Is Being Too Happy a Thing?, 2017.
Jennifer Galvan, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills, California. Dr. Galvan has several years of training and experience in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and has been part of many podcasts and seminars around diverse topics. For more information, visit Dr. Galvan’s website at www.galvanpsychology.com or follow @dr.jennifergalvan on Instagram.
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