Ergophobia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It refers to an excessive fear of work.

A person suffering from ergophobia fears that he will be completely unable to work, perform official functions.

These people are often characterized by intolerance of their own failures in their work. Some fear checking in or meeting at work. They usually share their fear with their colleagues.

The fear of work, like any other type of phobia. You are in constant tension due to a feeling of fear, fear of losing control and not coping with the situation.

At the heart of any irrational and reckless fear there are always strong emotions.

However, in the case of ergophobia, emotions are always negative, as they are the cause of unconscious fear.

The reasons for the appearance of ergophobia, as a rule, can be strong feelings of the individual before the next business, for example, before the job interview.

To minimize anxiety, you should start by looking for information about the job ahead.

Since, by practically realizing the information received, the individual feels much more secure.

After a certain period of time, anyone, even an ergophobic, who works in a new place, will begin to consider himself a professional, and he will not be afraid to carry out experiments related to his work.

A person suffering from ergophobia is constantly afraid of doing nothing and that the work will not get done.

He thinks he can break everything, bring a business out of business, and feels that someone has to do everything for him again first.

If ergophobes are persistently haunted by failures in professional activity, then he thinks he is doomed, and will not even try to change anything or take things to get on his side. So, for example, you will not test your skills and abilities in the other direction.

In situations where the individual constantly analyzes the failures that occurred early, but does nothing, then, most likely, he will develop ergophobia.

In some cases, the reason for ergophobia may be frequent checks or commissions at work.

Ergophobia can combine several phobias, for example: glossophobia (fear of speaking in public), atychiphobia (fear of failure), social phobia (fear of taking public actions or public actions).

Causes of ergophobia

The cause of ergophobia can occur from childhood, if one of the parents had a similar phobia. Parents can pass phobias on to their children.

Another cause of ergophobia is injuries obtained during work. The trauma can be physical or moral.

For example, a person, working in a factory, was seriously injured by a machine. In principle, a production trauma is not uncommon.

The whole problem is that each individual reacts absolutely differently to seemingly similar situations.

Some individuals after trauma will be more cautious, and some, conversely, will quit work.

It is this category of people that becomes the first candidates for the acquisition of an ergophobia.

In addition, people at work can suffer insults, humiliations, ergophobia can also arise due to lack of knowledge and skills, as a result of which a person begins to fear that he will not be able to cope with the work that has been entrusted to him.

For the most part, ergophobia is suffered by shy people who experience the greatest anxiety in a situation where it is necessary to help their colleagues at work.

Even if there is no apparent cause of irrational phobia, an individual may feel anxiety and emotional turmoil that undermine their ability to function normally.

Often the cause of the unconscious fear of work can be rejection.

If a person has been laid off before, he may have a hard time finding a new job, because he is afraid of being expelled again. Often the cause of fear can be boring work.

If the subject started his work activity with a monotonous, boring and uninteresting job, then he may have the stereotype that any job will be boring. The depressive states are often the causes of ergofobia.

For example, clinical depression, dysthymia , grief, or other similar disorders can cause a subject to lose incentives to work.


The fear of work is always noticeable to others. Hiding that unconscious and irrational phobia is almost impossible for an individual as their attitude towards work becomes obvious.

However, aggravation of ergophobia and the appearance of panic attacks are not so common.

A subject can secretly experience fear, suffer, but at the same time fulfill his official duties.

However, if a person suffering from ergophobia is suddenly summoned to the authorities, even if the occasion is insignificant, or he is entrusted with a new case, which for him will seem quite complicated and troublesome, then all the signs of fear that are typical of phobias appear.

The most common symptoms of ergophobia are a number of specific characteristics.

The ergophobic is afraid, begins to sweat intensely, suffers from nausea, accelerates the heart rate, has weakness and tremors in the extremities.

In addition, often there is redness of the skin and a strong emotional deterioration of the individual. In addition to these symptoms, there are also psychic manifestations.

The individual begins to feel that something terrible is about to happen, the feeling of fear, completely loses control over himself, self-control.

And although panic attacks are short-lived, they have a fairly serious effect on the individual’s body.

Therefore, if ergophobia is left unattended, after a certain period of time, more pronounced disturbances of the psyche may appear.

However, if you receive psychotherapeutic help in time, you can avoid the dangerous consequences of ergophobia. People who suffer from ergophobia, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • Incrise of cardiac frecuency.
  • Increased sweating
  • Trembling of limbs.
  • Unpleasant sensations in the abdomen.
  • Sickness.
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of immobility (stupor).
  • A preocclusive condition.
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Fear of losing control.

Many of these symptoms are the same for other medical conditions, such as heart disease, stomach problems, and breathing problems.

Therefore, the individual may make several visits to the doctor or the emergency room before he and his doctor find out what is really going on.

Treatment of ergophobia

The doctor will usually treat ergophobia with therapy, medication, or a combination.

There are also some things the individual can do to make you feel better.


Cognitive behavioral therapy can be tried . It can teach the patient self-training and new ways of thinking or dealing with situations that cause panic.

You can also learn meditation, relaxation, and breathing exercises. Sometimes the therapist may suggest exposure therapy, in which you try to do some things slowly that usually make you anxious.

Behavioral therapy is designed to alleviate manifestations of fear in patients or to eliminate it entirely. The systemic desensitization method is often used, which is combined with deeper muscle relaxation.

It consists of the complete relaxation of the patient and the modeling of various situations that provoke in him the appearance of fear of panic. In this method, the principle of habituation is used.

A large number of studies confirm the fact that this method is a fairly effective therapeutic technique.


There are many medications that your doctor might suggest for ergophobia. The most common types are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications .

Doctors often start with a low dose of one of these drugs that raises the level of serotonin in the brain.

Some of the drugs are Celexa, Effexor, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Prozac. The patient will likely take medications for at least 6 months to a year.

If you feel better and no longer feel stressed when you are in places that used to scare you, your doctor may start tapering off your medication.

Lifestyle changes can help too. Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet and skip caffeine and alcohol.

Anxiety provokes a searching reaction: being afraid of something, wanting something. As a result, a barrage of more specific emotions appears.

In a state of anxiety, the subject experiences a whole complex of emotions: different types of fear, guilt, anger, shame, etc.

A person cannot always understand what is the cause of these emotions, he cannot contain them. Such emotions are a defense against anxiety.

However, such emotions lead him to stressful conditions. All these emotions influence the interaction of the individual with those around him.

As a consequence, thoughts, actions, perception and behavior can alter the individual’s somatic state.

Treatment should be aimed at making a person aware of fear, understand what causes anxiety.

From the point of view of psychoanalysis, any phobia is an expression of a conflict that is hidden in the subconscious of the individual.

Therefore, it is not possible to treat a phobia, if the conflict itself is not identified, and what is the root cause.