Claustrophobia. Germophobia. Agoraphobia. You’ve likely heard of these extreme fears that can impact a person’s ability to go about their day-to-day life.
A lesser-known phobia is hodophobia ― a fear of travel ― but it can similarly interfere with the way someone views and interacts with the world.
How exactly does hodophobia manifest and how do those afflicted deal with it? Below, experts break down the symptoms, causes and coping mechanisms.
What is hodophobia?
“Hodophobia is an irrational and often paralyzing fear of traveling,” Dr. Neha Pathak, WebMD’s chief physician editor of health and lifestyle medicine, told HuffPost. “Like other phobias, it’s usually specific to the individual with regard to how it shows up in their lives and how severely it affects them.”
Someone with hodophobia might be afraid of various modes of transportation or simply fear spending any time away from their home.
“It can also be mixed with other disorders like claustrophobia or social anxiety, but hodophobia can also simply exist without other additional overlapping fears,” Pathak added. “The common thread with phobias is fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific situation — and for many people there are associated physical symptoms like shaking, nausea, sweating, fast heartbeat.”
Someone with this condition might experience extreme anxiety or depression ahead of a trip. Headaches, chest pain, dizziness and gastrointestinal symptoms might also occur.
“Someone with the condition may seem perfectly confident and functional with normal, day-to-day activities, but suffer debilitating fear with the thought of travel by the mode that causes their phobia,” Pathak said.
In severe cases, they might even have full-blown panic attacks at the thought of traveling and therefore avoid thinking about it — much less doing it. This phobia can interfere with work, family obligations and personal pleasure, as it may hinder one’s ability to participate in travel plans they actually want to carry out.
“Hodophobia causes the affected person clinically significant emotional distress or disrupts their life in some way,” emphasized psychologist Michele Leno. “It is not reserved for those who simply do not care about traveling.”
What causes it?
“Hodophobia can result from different types of experiences or exposures,” Pathak said. “It may be that an individual experienced a traumatic event while traveling themselves or…