Pharmacophobia or medication phobia, comes from Greek pharmakon, meaning “drug, medicine” and phobos, meaning “fear”, is the fear of the use of pharmacological treatments. In severe, excessive, and irrational cases, it might be a type of specific phobia.

While lack of awareness by patient of adverse drug reactions can have a serious consequence, having a phobia of medications can also have serious detrimental effects on the patient’s health. Medication phobia can also lead to issues with medication compliance. Medication phobia can also present in parents who are concerned about giving medications to their children, fearing that the medications will do more harm than good. Medication phobia can be triggered by negative adverse reactions to medications which are occasionally prescribed inappropriately or at excessive doses. Lack of awareness of the patient’s predisposition to adverse effects and failure to attribute the adverse effects to the drug serves to compound the phobia. Starting at low doses and slowly increasing the dosage can avoid medication phobia secondary to adverse effects from developing.

The fear of medication usage is also prevalent in people who have experienced negative withdrawal effects from psychotropic drugs. Sometimes patients wrongly associate the symptoms of an acute disease or illness with medications used to treat the illness or disease. This form of pharmacophobia can be treated by attempting to convince the patient to take test doses of said drug or another drug in the same drug class to prove to the patient that the symptoms weren’t due to the drug but to the illness the drug is to treat.

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