Anyone who has experienced anaphylactic shock knows deep down the true meaning of the word ‘fear’. Fear is reflected not only in thoughts and feelings, but also affects the whole body. “Many people were afraid they were going to die when they had their first anaphylactic shock”, says Elke Alsdorf of the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB). All the same, fear is a part of this difficult experience, and it is quite normal.
Knowledge helps combat fear
The best way to handle a normal fear reaction is with knowledge, says Alsdorf. “Patients want and need more information so that they can better managing their situation.” DAAB offers training to help improve self-management and reinforce one’s personal competence and self-confidence. “The question we ask is: What can you do?” says Alsdorf. Knowing what to do in an emergency can help people overcome their sense helplessness and build confidence in their own abilities, including those needed to properly handle emergency situations.
DAAB offers a series of effective training courses and information (see Sources).
When knowledge is no longer enough
People whose fear exceeds the normal level (pathological fear) need more than knowledge at this point. “The fear response in these cases is disproportionate to the source of the threat”, says Andrea Eisenberg, an internist and specialist in psychotherapeutic medicine from Hersbruck, Germany.
It is important to recognise pathological fear, which occurs in various forms, and understand that it can be treated. Patients should consult a psychosomatic medicine or psychotherapy specialist, advises Eisenberg.
German Allergy Congress 2019. Presentation: ‘Die Angst vor dem allergischen Notfall – und wie man sie überwindet’ (‘How to overcome the fear of an allergy emergency’) on 27 September 2019 by Andrea Eisenberg, internist, specialist in psychotherapeutic medicine, medical director of psychosomatic dermatology at the Psorisol dermatology clinic in Hersbruck, and Elke Alsdorf, asthma and COPD coach, healthcare ambassador of DAAB in Bengerstorf.
Online-information from DAAB (German)