Dystychiphobia (Fear of Accidents)

Dystychiphobia is a fear of accidents. With this specific phobia, you may feel anxious when you think about or see a place where you fear an accident may happen. Many people with this fear have had past traumatic experiences with accidents. You can overcome fear of accidents with exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments.


What is dystychiphobia?

People who have dystychiphobia (dis-TITCH-a-phobia) have a fear of accidents. Someone with dystychiphobia has extreme anxiety at the thought of being in an accident. They stay away from situations where one might happen, even if an accident is unlikely. This condition may affect their ability to go to work, school, shopping and other places.

“Dys” and “tych” are the Greek words for bad and accident. “Phobia” means fear.


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What is a phobia?

Phobias are a form of anxiety disorder. They cause an extreme fear of something that’s out of proportion to the actual risk.

Dystychiphobia is a specific phobic disorder. A specific situation (such as driving or working with machinery) brings on a fearful response. Sometimes, just the thought of a potential accident causes a reaction.

How common is dystychiphobia?

It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like dystychiphobia (fear of accidents). Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. About 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.


What does a person with dystychiphobia fear?

A person with dystychiphobia is afraid of causing or being involved in an accident. They may be scared of accidents:

  • At home.
  • At school.
  • At work.
  • In public places.
  • In vehicles.

Symptoms and Causes

Who is at risk for dystychiphobia?

You have a higher chance of having dystychiphobia or a different specific phobic disorder if you already have:


What other phobias are associated with dystychiphobia?

Other phobias linked to dystychiphobia include:

  • Aerophobia, fear of flying.
  • Agoraphobia, fear of leaving your home or not being able to escape from a place or situation.
  • Algophobia, fear of pain.
  • Amaxophobia, fear of being in a vehicle.
  • Hemophobia, fear of blood.
  • Nosocomephobia, fear of hospitals.
  • Thanatophobia, fear of dying.

What are the causes of dystychiphobia?

Potential dystychiphobia causes include:

  • Past traumatic experience: People who have been in a serious accident may develop dystychiphobia. You’re also at risk if a friend or family member has been injured or dies in an accident. In these instances, there may be a link between dystychiphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Family history: Your risk of having dystychiphobia increases if you have a parent or close relative with a phobic disorder or anxiety disorder. A gene mutation (change) may make you more anxious than others.
  • Modeling: Seeing a person with dystychiphobia or listening to someone talk about their fear of accidents can cause you to have the same phobia.
  • Learned responses: Having a parent or family member who teaches you to fear accidents may lead to dystychiphobia.

What are dystychiphobia triggers?

If you have this fear, any situation that you think may lead to an accident can bring on dystychiphobia. Dystychiphobia triggers include thinking about or participating in:

  • Driving or riding in a vehicle.
  • Flying in a plane.
  • Handling heavy machinery or sharp objects.
  • Playing sports or exercising.
  • Sailing in a boat.
  • Swimming or doing watersports.

What are dystychiphobia symptoms?

Physical symptoms of dystychiphobia can range from mild to extreme. They include:

Dystychiphobia can also cause emotional symptoms. These include:

  • Confusion.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Fear, such as of fainting (syncope) or dying.
  • Feeling out of control, sad or hopeless.
  • Feelings of dread.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is dystychiphobia diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use a mental health evaluation to diagnose dystychiphobia. There isn’t a specific test to diagnose dystychiphobia. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms, mental health history and whether you have other phobias. They may refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in phobias and anxiety disorders.

Management and Treatment

What are dystychiphobia treatments?

Exposure therapy is one of the main dystychiphobia treatments. During exposure therapy, your mental health professional guides you to experience situations and images that may trigger symptoms. Most people with specific phobias see their symptoms improve after receiving exposure therapy.

During exposure therapy, you:

  • Learn breathing and relaxation techniques to use before and during exposure.
  • View images or videos of accidents or situations that may trigger the fear of accidents.
  • Gradually progress to imagining situations where you fear an accident.
  • Finally, engage in situations or activities, such as driving a car, that triggers the phobia.

What are other dystychiphobia solutions?

Other techniques to overcome dystychiphobia include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps you learn to change how you see and respond to situations that trigger symptoms. Many healthcare providers use CBT along with exposure therapy to help with dystychiphobia.
  • Hypnotherapy: Healthcare providers use guided relaxation techniques and focused attention to help alter your perception of accident triggers. Healthcare providers can also use hypnotherapy to find the underlying cause of the phobia.
  • Medications: Drugs prescribed for panic attacks or panic disorder may help lessen symptoms related to dystychiphobia.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): Your healthcare provider may recommend this eight-week group program, which combines stress reduction and yoga. MBSR includes mindfulness meditation, which shows you how to relieve anxiety at the moment.
  • Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET): Using VRET to simulate real-life dystychiphobia triggers may help decrease anxiety symptoms. One study found that VRET helped people overcome a fear of driving or riding in a vehicle.
  • Visualization: In a situation that usually triggers dystychiphobia, such as flying in a plane, try visualizing a place that relaxes you. Focusing on peaceful images, such as a beach or forest, can help change your perception of the trigger.
  • Yoga and meditation: Practicing yoga on a consistent basis can help you relax and lessen your stress levels. Meditation can encourage you to focus on your breathing. The practice can help prevent panic attacks.

What are the complications of dystychiphobia?

Severe dystychiphobia can affect your quality of life. You may have difficulty getting to work or school, running errands, playing sports or going to social events. It may be impossible to visit friends or family or participate in activities with them.

Some people with dystychiphobia have panic attacks. They may experience noncardiac chest pain, a fast heart rate and symptoms similar to a heart attack. Constant worries about panic attacks can result in a panic disorder that requires long-term use of anti-anxiety medications.

Living With

When should I call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you’re having:

  • Anxiety that interferes with daily life or sleeping.
  • Panic attacks.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What’s causing my fear of accidents?
  • What’s the best treatment for me?
  • How long will I need treatment?
  • Should I watch for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Phobias like dystychiphobia can get worse when untreated. You may become unable to drive, fly or participate in physical activities or sports. Fear of accidents can also impact time spent with your friends and loved ones. Healthcare providers can help you overcome a phobia of accidents. Talk to your healthcare provider about treatments. Exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy can help you cope with dystychiphobia triggers.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 03/28/2022.

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