Those afraid of eating something sour shouldn’t feel ashamed. There is an actual condition called Acerophobia. According to the phobia dictionary, this phobia is literally the irrational fear of tasting sour things. While it might not seem like one of the more common, or more frightening, phobias to be stricken with, it does leave more than just a bad taste in the mouth of those who suffer from it.
People who suffer from acerophobia can actually suffer from gastrointestinal distress when they taste something sour. They become physically ill and may suffer from long term affects after tasting sour food.
Along with the physical manifestation, acerophobia can also have long lasting mental effects as well. Those who suffer from this phobia can develop anxieties about eating. There is a deep-seated fear that at any meal the sufferer may encounter something that is sour. Those that have this problem may be hesitant to try something new on the basis that they are unsure of whether or not it is sour and therefore trigger the reactions that they are so used to. Going to a restaurant can also be a trying experience because the afflicted may experience anxiety about a sour item being mixed up with his or her food.
Not only would going out to eat be difficult for someone with this condition, having someone else prepare the food can also cause a sense of distress. Because of this fear, someone who has this fear may not behave as most people when it comes to eating may also cause him or her to distance themselves from normal personal interaction and modify their way of living.
Because acerophobia is a panic-based phobic disorder, other symptoms may present themselves when faced with a sour food or drink. The person could feel an elevated sense of panic, have heart palpitations, tremors, shakiness, high perspiration, rapid breathing, or a full on panic attack can occur. Living with the fear of encountering sour foods or drinks can also affect the person’s mood and ability to remain calm, especially in social situations where food may be present.
The cause of acerophobia is may vary from patient to patient. For some it may be rooted in a bad childhood experience. The first taste of a lemon or pickle may have triggered the person to become ill. The memory of that illness comes to mind each and every time that person encounters a sour item. For others, the cause may not be as readily understandable. It could be a learned habit from a parent or caretaker or it could be genetic problem.
There is hope for those who suffer from this phobia. Through therapy and cognitive behavior modification, the learned behavior is reversible. Just as the person learned to react to the food, the person can learn to not react to the food. It can take months or even years for a person who suffers from acerophobia to be fully cured of the problem. For those who have severe panic reactions a psychotherapist may also recommend the use of behavioral medications to help ease some of the symptoms while therapy takes place. Drugs such as an anti-anxiety drug are often prescribed for a short time. As the patient continues through the cognitive behavior therapy, the drugs are reduced until the patient no longer has to take them to manage.
Acerophobia may not be a well-known phobia, but it is very real. Sufferers of this condition can have very real and painful reactions. Those who have this phobia shouldn’t be written off as a fussy eater or problem guest just because they cannot handle sour foods. Thankfully, with treatment, this phobia can be conquered.