Psych Central

Fear of Taking Medicine

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have PTSD and I’m going through perimenopause, and my anxiety level has hit the roof. I’ve developed some phobias, over the last few years, and decided to go back on a low dose of amitriptyline (25mg) which I got from my doctor, as well as clonazepam (.5 mg up to 2x daily) for panic. I’ve taken these before and know that they work, and do not have the side-effects that other medications do with me. However, for some reason over the last several years I have developed a food/medicine phobia. There are only limited things I can put in my mouth without having anything from mild anxiety to a panic attack. I’m sure I know where this came from, and I’m also sure that the hormone fluctuations I’m going through are not helping. How can I get past the barrier of the phobia of taking the medicine that will help me deal with the anxiety and phobias? It’s a terrible Catch 22!

A. The best way to overcome fear is to face it. Ideally, you should take the medication, despite your extreme anxiety. If you can do that, your problem will be solved.

Phobias, by definition, are unreasonable fears. Giving in to your fear keeps it alive. Each time you don’t take the medicine you increase the flames of your fear. It reinforces the anxiety and deepens the phobia.

Therapy could be immensely helpful. A very effective treatment for phobias exists called systematic desensitization. The basic concept of systematic desensitization involves the development of a hierarchy of planned, gradual exposure to one’s fears. Each level of the hierarchy will elicit some level of anxiety but the beauty of the treatment is that you will eventually become normalized to it. That is the goal.

Find a competent therapist who specializes in systematic desensitization and you can finally be free of this phobia. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jul 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Fear of Taking Medicine. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/07/25/fear-of-taking-medicine/