What is the fear of work called, and how to get rid of ergophobia?

Fast-paced times and high technologies can lead modern people to physical and emotional stress. Often this tension causes various diseases. Recently, phobias, which lead to mental disorders, have become a fairly common illness. Among them is a rather unusual, but nevertheless threatening fear of work.

Fear of work is becoming a common phobia among young people and adults

In psychology there is a definition of what the phobia of fear of work is called. Ergophobia usually means fear of performing professional activities that require certain training, the ability to be responsible for work, and make important decisions. Ordinary people sometimes speak critically about this phobia, believing that ergophobes are ordinary slackers.

Fear of work: what is the name of the phobia?

Ergophobia is a fear of work associated with the direct performance of official duties, as well as any activity requiring professional training.

As a rule, fear of work is accompanied by an individual’s fear of the responsibility assigned to him. Anxiety may appear after a long absence from work (vacation, sick leave, maternity leave), as well as during employment in a new place. Obsessive anxiety exhausts the body, forcing a person to give up a highly paid position.

About the prerequisites

A person can develop fear of work for many reasons. One of the most serious is prolonged depression. An individual who has lost all interest in life forgets about incentives to work.

The cause may also be obsessive-compulsive disorder. A person suffering from neurological dysfunction is unable to engage in productive, useful activities. He is hampered by preoccupation with obsessive thoughts and attempts to cope with chronic anxiety.

Panic disorders are also a serious cause. There are people for whom even being in a work environment causes anxiety, developing into panic.

PTSD can also cause job anxiety. The experience at a previous job could have been disastrous for the individual, and even traumatized him. Memories are a powerful barrier to finding a new job and also provoke fears. What if the sad experience happens again?

Symptoms of a phobia

The disease of fear of work negatively affects the psychological and physical state of the individual. Experts have identified a number of physiological symptoms:

  • increased sweating;
  • redness or paleness of the skin;
  • the appearance of nausea and dizziness;
  • sudden fever or chills;
  • discomfort in the lower abdomen;
  • numbness of the body;
  • hand trembling;
  • pre-fainting state.

In addition to physical illness, a person loses self-control and ceases to control the situation, believing that a terrible event is about to happen. From the outside it looks like the person is becoming inadequate.

Thus, the disease manifests itself at the physical and psychological levels, which has an extremely negative effect on overall well-being.

Physical manifestations

Ergophobia is accompanied not only by mental changes. Its physical manifestation can also cause a lot of problems.

This disease is accompanied by mild tremors, chills, aching pain in the abdomen and head, breathing problems, general weakness, and stupor. All this suggests that the person really suffers from a phobia, and does not experience the normal anxiety that is characteristic of many of us at a crucial moment. There is a difference. After performing an action (for example, public speaking) a person who was experiencing anxiety and excitement, all of the above disappears. But for an ergophobe, the “symptoms” persist for a long time.

These attacks are so strong that they can disorganize the individual’s activities and paralyze him. Even habitual actions (like breathing) cease to be automatic, and he has to concentrate in order to at least normalize something.

Reasons for fear of work

Any fear has a reason. Only by identifying them does it become possible to help a person.

  1. Fear of constant failure. A person who often experiences a feeling of failure and disappointment in himself is susceptible to ergophobia. If the chosen type of activity does not bring the desired results, then you should think about it and, perhaps, find a new area.
  2. Frequent checks at work. Constant monitoring creates a stressful situation when an employee worries about the quality of the instructions being checked. If periodic commissions and reviews are a problem, then it is worth trying yourself in a less demanding position.
  3. Genetics. Often, parents' phobias are inherited by children. If a child grew up in a family where there was stress every day, it is possible that the child will adopt the fears of adults at an early age.
  4. Work injury. Each person has an individual nervous system. For one worker, a work injury will serve as a lesson and teach caution. For others, it is a reason to change jobs or even professional activities.
  5. Insults and humiliation at work. Disagreements in the team, personal hostility or inadequate clientele can lead to the development of fear of work. A phobia occurs in people who are not sufficiently resistant to stress or who are unable to take criticism.
  6. Fear of dismissal. If the employer fired an employee from his previous job on his own initiative, then fear of another dismissal and the development of a phobia cannot be ruled out.
  7. Boring job. You need to choose a field of activity you like. Actions that bring negative emotions into a person’s life will lead to the development of psychological diseases.
  8. Depression, mourning. Personal problems lead to antipathy towards work. In this case, it is recommended to take a vacation.

Concerns of young professionals

A mild form of ergophobia may be characteristic of yesterday's students. Many graduates of educational institutions are afraid to start their professional activities. It is essential to deal with this anxiety quickly. Because such a basis is considered by experts to be almost the promised land for the development of real ergophobia.

A thorough study of the future workplace can help. It is worth familiarizing yourself with all aspects, starting with the institution’s code of ethics and ending with the team. After such “prevention”, many manage to reconcile their ideals with the general vision of the employer’s team.

Fear of work: types of disorder

Depending on the causes and characteristic differences, fear of work can be divided into the following types.

Fear of getting a job

Fear arises because a person is forced to leave his comfort zone. The individual is in such conditions that he is not satisfied with his own state of affairs. However, on an unconscious level such a person may feel comfortable. This situation applies to an “adult child” who lives with his parents, or to the wife of a wealthy man. Even a person who has a job, but which does not fully satisfy him, can become an ergophobe.

The idea of ​​finding a new job is unthinkable for ergophobes. Fear of a new job is common to many people. However, we are talking about a phobia that goes beyond the boundaries of normal behavior, forcing a person to refuse work in principle.

Fear of going back to work after maternity leave

A woman may develop fear of work after maternity leave. Often women are frightened by the mere thought of returning to their previous place of work, and the search for a new one is terrifying. Feeling trapped, girls make the main mistake - after the first maternity leave, they get pregnant and immediately go on a second maternity leave. And then they give birth to a third child. In difficult cases, ergophobia turns into social phobia.

In such situations, a woman completely protects herself from outside activities, locking herself within four walls. She sees her purpose in housekeeping. This often leads to negative consequences. Women justify their behavior with the following phrases: “I don’t remember anything after maternity leave,” “I’ve gained weight and I don’t want my colleagues/boss to see me like that,” “I can’t handle it,” and others.

Timely contact with a specialist will help prevent the development of ergophobia.

Fear of a new job and team

Many people are afraid of working in a new team. Strangers are first and foremost a danger. What will they say behind your back? Point out every mistake and gossip? A new person in an old and united team becomes a black sheep.

Experts recommend establishing positive relationships with colleagues from the first day of work. You shouldn't avoid a shared lunch break by running away from the office. On the contrary, this is a great opportunity to get to know your employees. You can talk about work, ask questions, or tell funny stories from your previous place. The main thing is not to be silent and not to withdraw into yourself.

With this approach, new colleagues will become good acquaintances in a matter of days, and then, perhaps, friends.

Fear of the boss

Fear of work may be a fear of management. Moreover, this fear can appear both at a new place of work and at the old one. For example, when the management of the company changed.

Communication with your boss may be accompanied by increased emotionality, sweating, redness of the skin and a noticeable deterioration in condition.

In order not to lead the experience to ergophobia, you should remember that the leader is the same person. He has no right to raise his voice at the employee or speak rudely. If this happens, it is worth asking in the correct form to observe a business style of communication.

Fear of a new position

As a rule, a new position implies new responsibilities and increased responsibility. Not every person can accept this fact calmly.

In order to prevent nervous and subsequently physical exhaustion, you should be well prepared for transfer/acceptance to a new position. If possible, request a job description from the employer and read it carefully. It is recommended to “fit in” to the new position before actually entering it.


Ergophobia is a serious disease, and ignoring it can lead to a number of complications. Moreover, they will concern mental health in the last place.

Over time, an unemployed person “accumulates” debts, so that later he can pay off savings, property and even a home to pay them off. Some begin to look for a way to get rich quick, they begin to place bets, buy lottery tickets, and play in a casino. Ultimately, this leads to another addiction and additional debt.

The person also begins to neglect himself. He survives on anything he can, dresses in bad clothes, and forgets about hygiene. After all, all this requires funds. And in this form it will be difficult to impress the employer.

Ergophobia destroys marriages and families, worsens relationships with friends and family, and limits communication. There can be a lot of consequences. Therefore, it is extremely important to start treating this specific disease on time to avoid all of the above.

Specialized treatment for ergophobia

The method of getting rid of fear of work in each specific situation is determined individually. However, if there are obvious symptoms of the disease, it is recommended to consult a specialist. Timely and effective help from a professional will help you get rid of the fear of working. Phobias are treated through the use of methods such as meditation and relaxation, auto-training, drug therapy and others.

One of the professionals in getting rid of phobias is Nikita Valerievich Baturin. This specialist will develop a personal treatment program and take an in-depth approach to solving the problem, using various techniques.


Well, the last type of treatment for patients with phobia of fear of work is therapy. This method is an integrated approach. One of the therapy techniques teaches the patient to become more active and overcome fear by visually demonstrating examples from life.

During treatment, the patient observes the same situations with real people (or actors), who, just like him, get to work. By observing others and seeing how they calmly carry out work, it becomes easier for a person to realize that there is nothing wrong with it. Later, when symptoms of fear set in, the patient remembers images of those people whom he observed at the doctor’s appointment. It may seem that this method is ineffective, but it is not. As medical practice shows, this therapy is one of the most effective in the treatment of ergophobia.

Recommendations for getting rid of fear

Experts recommend following the following tips to get rid of fear and prevent ergophobia:

  1. It should be understood that fear is a protective part of the human psyche. In stressful situations, consult with loved ones more often and listen to their advice. It is also a good idea to simulate the situation that led to anxiety and play out the scenario in the most favorable light. Perhaps the fear is exaggerated and not worth the nerves.
  2. Carry out “work on mistakes”. It is recommended to analyze all stressful situations and analyze in detail the emotions and experiences that have engulfed you. You should learn to find and eliminate mistakes in your behavior. Programming yourself to achieve better results will help you avoid the development of phobias.
  3. Ignore thoughts of fear. All thoughts are material. We need to remember this when the next wave of fear rolls in. It is better to switch your attention to pleasant and useful things and distract yourself from the experience.
  4. Create your own motivation. To overcome internal fear, you need strong motivation. For example, you can promise yourself a desired purchase or trip for overcoming your inner experience. An incentive can also be a cash bonus promised by management for achieving a certain result.

Psychoanalytic method

The next method of treating ergophobia is psychoanalysis, which takes the form of open communication with the attending physician. The doctor and the patient analyze and analyze in detail life circumstances, allowing them to understand where this fear came from, what contributed to it and how it can be overcome. When talking with a doctor, the patient talks through his experiences and anxiety, then receives so-called homework. Usually it includes some kind of exercise to overcome oneself and develop control over excessive emotions.

Thanks to these conversations with a psychotherapist, a person feels better after just a few sessions. With the first victories over his phobia, the patient begins to look at the situation more positively and every step becomes easier for him.

Cognitive therapy

If the patient admits: “I am afraid to work in a team,” then in such cases cognitive therapy is used. The doctor helps the patient get closer to the object of his fear. Using the example of ergophobia, this could be: a conversation with superiors, a conversation with employees and going out to lunch together, etc. For a person who finds it difficult to work in a team, such actions can cause a lot of discomfort.

This is when symptoms of phobia such as tremors, increased sweating and nausea appear. But having dealt with a little conversation, it becomes much easier for the patient to do it again and again. Therefore, the doctor’s next task could be not only a conversation, but a joint ride to the metro, a trip to a cafe after work, or a small request.

If you, too, have become hostage to the disturbing thought: “I’m very afraid to work,” then you shouldn’t brush it aside and pretend that everything is fine. No phobia should be denied. On the contrary, it is extremely important to recognize its existence and begin to look for solutions. After all, if you wish, you can find a golden rescue key for any phobia!

Definition of the concept

What is a work phobia called? Ergophobia. This is a pathological state of the human psyche, characterized by fear of performing professional activities and responsible tasks. Some people believe that ergophobia is simply a second name for laziness. But the difference between ergophobia is that it is not just a reluctance to do one’s job, but high anxiety before performing certain professional actions. For example, a lazy person constantly puts off writing a serious report because he doesn't feel like doing it. An individual with ergophobia is afraid of making serious mistakes for which he will have to bear responsibility.

Often, fear of work is a phobia that develops on the basis of other, more specific fears:

  • Fear of speaking in public. It is difficult for such a person to be, for example, a teacher or an actor.
  • Fear of failure. An individual is afraid of professional activity because he constantly worries about what has happened and supposed mistakes in his activity.
  • Social phobia. These are people who are afraid of professional activities because they are afraid of people and communication with them in the work team.

Each professional industry may have its own objects to fear. For example, a doctor’s ergophobia may be accompanied by a fear of blood, a fireman by a fear of heights, or an accountant by a fear of numbers.

So, ergophobia - what kind of disease is it? This term is called complex fear, which includes fear of responsibility, fear of injury at work, and social phobia. A person experiencing such a problem is constantly in tension, may be depressed and aggressive, since he constantly has to fight his fear, which causes unpleasant feelings and physical sensations. In the most severe cases, a person avoids activities in any professional field.

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