What is Metathesiophobia? (A Comprehensive Guide)

In this blog we will deliberate the causes, symptoms and treatment for Metathesiophobia.

Metathesiophobia is an irrational fear of change that dilapidates the person and his occupational living is affected to an extent that monotony is the only thing he wants.

This can also make him lose his family life and work as well.

The origin of the word Metathesiophobia comes from Greek ‘meta’ meaning change and ‘phobos’ meaning fear.

Change is inevitable. No one can avoid it. No one can deny it. But there are some who fear it!

Fear it to such an extent that even at the mere thought of an unavoidable change, they undergo a full-blown panic attack.

‘If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.’ but instead of challenging it makes the sufferer afraid. And this fear DOES CHANGE them.

They cannot process change and start to avoid going to school or their place of work.

This is a persistent condition which disables the sufferer from trying out anything that is not in his day to day routine or even something novel.

It is usually associated with Metathesiophobia which is the fear of metamorphosis. 

Metathesiophobia is the fear of change, circumstances, or objects.

It is an anxiety of the routine changes that occur and leaves the sufferer fearing life itself as to expect and not wanting change at the same time. It is a condition that is quite serious.

It can also diminish the will to live. Life is all about change and change is the only thing that cannot be changed!

Symptoms of Metathesiophobia

The symptoms of Metathesiophobia are as follows:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Rapid breathing, 
  • shaking/trembling
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or gastrointestinal distress
  • inability to form words
  • dry mouth
  • thoughts of death
  • Choking
  • Feeling of dread.

Causes of Metathesiophobia

As with most phobias and anxieties, there is no clear consensus about what causes Metathesiophobia.

The most common explanation is a childhood traumatic episode where a child may have been exposed to death of a loved one in the family, bringing about an entire change or modification in his life. 

This early change or sudden change leaves a fear inside the person that all changes are negative and are bound to bring a dire state of mind and body.

Financial upheaval or moving from place to place or constant shifting also leaves the person suffering from Metathesiophobia 

People suffering from Metathesiophobia are reluctant to meet new people and shy away from most of them, feelings of shame of not being able to adjust and guilt of staying away from newer things is very prominent.   

People may also be afraid of losing control because this is something that is not in their hands and not controlled by them, no matter how powerful a person is.

Thus, the death of someone close can leave the person not in control of the situation.

This inability to manipulate the situation according to one’s own whims might also push them to Metathesiophobia..

There are plenty of people with Metathesiophobia who cannot even recall the traumatic incident that would have developed this fear.

Many times, Metathesiophobia can suddenly arise out of the blue. 

Scientists believe that a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry, and other biological and environmental factors could cause such fears to develop.

As is common in specific phobias, the cause Metathesiophobia may lie deep in the person’s childhood or its onset may be due to an environmental factor.

Genetics also plays a pivotal role in the cause of developing Metathesiophobia. 

Other causes can be as follow:

• Learned behavior

• Traumatic experiences

Etiological Models of Metathesiophobia

1. Biological (Genetic) Model

Genetics also determines how a person reacts and feels. Therefore, people inherit fears and phobias as well from their families.

The brain cells (neurons) release certain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Serotonin and Dopamine are two neurotransmitters that in depleted states can cause anxiety like symptoms.

2. Psychodiagnostics Model

If a person has suffered from a traumatic experience in early childhood it can have a severe dire impact on his later life. 

A childhood traumatic experience could be where children experienced a negative impact of events due to a change in their life This may leave a long-lasting impression.

Reading books that have a detailed account of deaths and dying, also anecdotes of unwarranted changes that altered the lives of people, can add to the fears.

Therefore, to avoid this anxiety they start fearing and evading what they fear.

The intensity is more because they know that death cannot be avoided, only the thought of it can be.

3. Behavioral Model

According to this model, irrational fears  may be caused through behaviors that are learned by replication.

Children often replicate unique behaviors of their adults, parents or a favorite aunt or uncle.

If a family member is already suffering from anxiety or is scared of one or another thing, then chances are higher that only by observing this, the child may develop fears

Treatments of Metathesiophobia

Metathesiophobia can be treated through different treatments.

These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.

1) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

In CBT the therapist helps the client to amend his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved.

This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior.

The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought, his behavior in regards to changes in life.

This therapy is goal oriented and short termed. Therefore, the results are seen soon. It changes the way a person thinks and feels.

CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation. 

Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations.

Therefore, negative thoughts bring about a negative behavior response or an undesirable behavior.

Whereas, positive thoughts propagate desirable and healthy attitude and response.

For the treatment of Metathesiophobia, the therapist separates the problem into parts.

These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions. 

  1. What thought is invoked at the thought of change?
  2. How do you feel when you see changes around you?
  3. What do you do when you experience changes? 
  4. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of CBT and designed by Albert Ellis. According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” This is what subjective perspective is. 

In Metathesiophobia, the person thinks of dying and gets anxious because there is a fear of leaving loved ones behind and experiencing the unknown.

2) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)

In this therapy the client is asked to 

  • Access the phobia in a safe environment.
  • Help them to replay the phobia along with happy emotions.
  • Disassociate from the phobia.

3) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

 MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment.

We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us.

We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions. 

In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!

In Metathesiophobia treatment, the client is made conscious to pay attention to his thoughts when he is thinking of what he is afraid of.

Awareness helps to alleviate the stress symptoms. 

4) Meditation

For meditation to be effective during treatment, the mind is cleared off all the clutter of random thoughts.

The mind and body are made to be ‘in sync’ with each other, so that the feared stimulus does not invoke a negative thought.

The client will meditate during the thoughts of death and concentrate on his breathing patterns in the presence of the feared stimulus. 

5) Self-Help Groups

Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer.

These groups are individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias. They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping strategies.

This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering.

6) Changing Lifestyle

Breaking down the dullness of the daily, helps break down anxiety as well. 

• Take up jogging or go for daily walks:

Developing a walk routine can damper the way our negative thoughts control our behavior.

• Indulging in an exercise regime:

Vigorous exercise like aerobics has proved to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Exercise helps the mind to cope with stress and stressful situations better.

This is what the American Psychological Association has to say about inducting exercise to eliminate stress or phobias.

• Altering eating and drinking habits:

Cutting down on fatty foods and caffeine can improve self-image, that in turn leads to a raised self-esteem.

This finally diminishes the symptoms of stress to a bare minimum.

With high intake of caffeine, the body resembles a ‘fight or flight’ response, thus giving way to anxiety.

• Improving the sleep cycle:

When we get proper rest, our concentration improves. 

7.         Psychiatric Medication 

There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Metathesiophobia are severe.

  1. Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)

These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.

  1. Antidepressants 

These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Metathesiophobia as well as other phobias.

Medicines alone might not be as effective, but if used in conjunction with therapies then the results will be better. 

7)  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This kind of therapy is used to regulate the emotions.

A technique called “half-smiling” is used where the client is asked to lift the corners of his mouth when the feared thought comes to his mind.

Apart from this the mind is to be trained to refrain from thinking about the painful stimulus.

Coping Ahead is another technique in DBT that requires the client to sit quietly and think of the feared situation and strategize what he will do.


How common is Metathesiophobia?

The symptoms of Metathesiophobia can be volatile, ranging from panic attacks to health issues. .

According to the National Institute of Health, only 9% of U.S. adults have a phobia. Of that number, only 21% have a serious issue. 

Do I have Metathesiophobia?

If you feel fearful of the changes that occur with age and time, to the extent that your personal and professional lives get affected.

Do you suffer from metathesiophobia? 

If an intense fear of change is present and the recurrent symptoms are also present speak clearly.

How do you overcome Metathesiophobia?

You can overcome Metathesiophobia by undergoing therapies and treatment that include cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy and mindfulness. 

How many people are affected by Metathesiophobia?

An estimated 9.1% of U.S. adults had specific phobia in the past year. Past year prevalence of specific phobia among adults was higher for females (12.2%) than for males (5.8%).

Phobias A-Z

Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.


  • Psychtimes.com
  • Psychology today.com
  • Brain.org

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!