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What is Ergophobia?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Ergophobia, or ergasiophobia, is a general fear of the workplace, or of things that occur in it. The person with ergophobia is probably well aware that he/she suffers from this condition. He may fear losing a job, being unable to perform certain aspects of the job (such as meeting deadlines or giving presentations), or with any task may encounter extreme anxiety. This anxiety is often manifested in real physical symptoms. These can include profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, overall trembling, dry mouth and panic attacks. Severe cases of ergophobia are debilitating and may make completing any sort of work near impossible.

As with any type of phobia, ergophobia may have developed from an incident of trauma at some earlier point in a person’s life. Losing a job or being mocked or maligned for poor work in the past could be a couple of reasons why people develop this fear. There are many potential traumatic causes, and these may not even have occurred in the work place. A person who has had extremely negative experiences making presentations in school might develop ergophobia that relates specifically to making work presentations. Similarly, past experiences where someone could not meet deadlines could cause the physical symptoms of this fear in the present.

Though ergophobia is called an irrational fear, there are rational elements that may fuel it. Inability to perform a job at the level of competency required could very well put a job at risk and make it more likely a job will be lost. This is why it is extremely important for people to recognize this disorder and get diagnosis and treatment for it.

An ergophobic usually self-diagnoses, but should confirm their “fear of work” with a professional like a psychiatrist, psychologist or other licensed counselor. The work of treatment then begins, and there are several ways to address this condition. People may require medication to help calm anxiety in the workplace, and they also can benefit from several therapy types. The most common to treat this condition are talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and desensitization therapy.

Of these three, the latter two are usually thought most effective. Some larger cities offer group therapy too, for those who suffer from this condition. With work and time, many with ergophobia are able to make partial or full recovery and may be able to continue working with far less panic and much more confidence. Given that work is often a necessity, need to treat this condition is very high, and getting diagnosis from a professional is important also, since this may help forestall employers from terminating those who suffer from this condition.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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