Signs you have ‘cherophobia’ – the fear of being happy

April 10, 2018
Samaa Web Desk

Photo: Courtesy Financial Tribune

Do you have a persistent feeling that if everything’s going good, it is bound to be followed by something bad? Some people have a tendency to be suspicious of their good fortune.

People who have an irrational aversion to being happy suffer from ‘cherophobia’. According to Healthline magazine, the term comes from the Greek word ‘chero’, which means ‘to rejoice’.

Some medical experts classify cherophobia as a form of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is an irrational or heightened sense of fear related to perceived threats. In the case of cherophobia, the anxiety is related to participation in activities that many would characterise as fun, or of being happy.

The condition is not widely researched or defined and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) doesn’t list cherophobia as a disorder. However, there are some mental health experts that discuss this phobia and its potential treatments.

Someone who has cherophobia isn’t necessarily a sad person. Instead, they can be identified by their tendency to avoid activities that could lead to happiness or joy.

Here are some symptoms associated with cherophobia as per Healthline:

  • experiencing anxiety at the thought of going to a joyful social gathering, like a party, concert, or other similar event
  • rejecting opportunities that could lead to positive life changes due to fear that something bad will follow
  • refusal to participate in activities that most would call fun

Some key thoughts a person who experiences cherophobia may express include:

  • Being happy will mean something bad will happen to me.
  • Happiness makes you a bad or worse person.
  • Showing that you’re happy is bad for you or for your friends and family.
  • Trying to be happy is a waste of time and effort.

Cherophobia is often the result of people trying to protect themselves. The irrational need to protect oneself may stem from a past conflict, tragedy or trauma. If cherophobia is affecting quality of life, seeking treatment with a doctor can often help. Cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, journaling, or exercising are some of the options. It may take time. However, with continued treatment, you may be able to conquer your fears.