Medication phobia is a fear of the use of pharmacological treatments. In severe, excessive and irrational, cases it may be a type of specific phobia. There is no one cause for medication phobia; it can be triggered by an event or sometimes for no apparent reason. Some people can get by their phobias easily, like with a fear of snakes.

This fear must be taken seriously, because it creates a great deal resistance in accepting the medical treatment required for the serious health issues. But if not taken care properly it can be life threatening.

asma-qureshiSymptoms of Medication Phobia

  • Avoiding taking a life-saving drug
  • Constantly afraid of chocking on pills
  • Ignoring a health problem in order to avoid medicines
  • Missing the appointments
  • Spitting the pills and showing that it has been taken.
  • Always complaining that treatment is not moving on and I am not having improvement.

Here, one of the main aspects related to fear of medication needs high consideration, which is the lack of confidence at the part of the physician and doctors to tell about the side effects of the medicine which he/she is going to prescribe. If the patient and the family are given the proper information regarding the medicine under prescription, then they are more likely to attend the side effects and even stay prepared for them. They take it as a part of the whole treatment and thus don’t go for the refusal of the prescribed medicine. Lack of awareness by patient or doctor of adverse drug reactions can have serious consequences, having a phobia of medications can also have serious detrimental effects on patient’s health, for example refusal of necessary pharmacological interventions. Medication phobia can also lead to problems with medication compliance. Lack of awareness of the patient’s predisposition to adverse effects (e.g. anxious patients and the elderly) and failure to attribute the adverse effects to the drug serves to compound the phobia. 

Main causes of the development of the Medication Phobia

Unpleasant reactions of the medicine in the past

People tend to avoid medication for any sort of their current problem, in case if they have any painful or unpleasant reactions in the past. This form of pharmacophobia can be treated by attempting to convince the patient to take test doses of the drug or another drug in the same drug class to prove to the patient that the symptoms were not due to the drug but due to the ineffective administration of the medicine.

Allergic reactions of the medicines

If in the present a person had some allergic reactions to the medicine, he/she tends to avoid the medicine of the same class, even in the time of need. In such cases the patient can be educated that the problem is not in the medicine but in the immune system that it does not tolerate such kind of a drug but other can be tolerated to treat any medical issue in hand.

Over dosage

At times people have no fear of medicine but of the over dosage. They think that if doctor would prescribe the high dosage of the drugs, their body would not tolerate it; they can have cardiac arrest or have nervous breakdown and ultimately would die. This can be handled by giving the real knowledge of the medicine. Now a days it is very easy to rule it out through internet surfing.

My other organs would get affected

Some people ignore their real health problem by not being in touch with the doctor and avoiding the drugs required, just because they are afraid of the medicinal effects on their other organs. For instance, if a person is having severe back bone problem and is prescribed a heavy dosage which he needs to take early morning, he can have the concern that it would affect his stomach badly and he would be having the serious problems of stomach as well and would need the treatment for this new problem as well.

Here says and gossips

We are living in a world which is full of myths and misconceptions related to all areas of life. People around are always ready to share their haunted stories with the new patients and misguide them regarding the particular medicine and its side effects. If they had a bad experience, they would tend to share with the other person and condemn him to take that treatment. Here, we need to discriminate between their health issue, its treatment modality and choice of the consultant and those of ours. While treating any medical problem, the age, gender, body mass, other health issues, tolerance, severity and length of the disease are kept in consideration and then the prescription is designed. So every case is different from the other case.


Psychotic feature, Paranoia, is a big resistance and causative factor of the fear of medication in many cases. If the person is having schizophrenia and is having some general medical condition as well, he would show great resistance to take the medicine for his health issue as he believes that people around want to kill him or manipulate him in their ways. This can be well handled by having counseling program for that patient with a psychologist who would therapeutically convince him to take the medicine for his own betterment.

I won’t be my self

This occurs mostly in case of psychiatric treatments. Patient thinks that if he would take any psychiatric medication, his thinking, moods, emotional states, facial expressions and even the whole life would be operated with the medication and he would not be enjoying his real self. Here the misconception needs to be taken care of that his psychiatric illness is creating more disconnection with his real self and life and the medicine would make him more capable, emotional sound and clear in thinking.

Using it all through the life

A great deal of resistance towards medication is observed in the cases of chronic illnesses. Patients don’t want to accept that they are having chronic illness which needs life time attention, care, management and treatment. Patient thinks that it would affect his health more badly if he keeps on taking the medicine all through the life. But the fact is opposite to it, which is that by not taking the medicine and avoiding the treatment, they create more health issues and make them more serious in nature.

Weight gain

This type of resistance is majorly shown by the females. Weight gain is a traumatic experience of those who are so much weight conscious. When they are prescribed certain medicines which have the side effect of weight gain, they become afraid of using that drug and thus aggravate their health problems. This can very well handled by prior information given by the physician and maintain the proper and active life style and avoiding the sedentary life style, which is the biggest cause of weight gain.

Shame and Social Stigma

It has been noticed that people have the severe levels of shame over taking any medicine, particularly in social settings. They don’t want it to be revealed on others that they are having any medical problem and are on prescribed drugs. They think people would become judgmental and they would stand out among them. Their value would lower down and won’t get it back. This can be well treated by educating them that to have any medical problem is not a sin or not something related to shame, it is just a physical problem which many people on earth are facing. They are not the only one’s having this disease.

Chocking, Nausea and pain of pricking

Patients have this fear that they can’t swallow the pill, it can cause chocking and can cause difficulty in breathing and thus would die. This fear leads to rejection of the tablets and even syrups as well. For syrup they have the fear of nausea. If this fear is not taken care of properly, this can even lead to fear of injection as well. Thus, they reject all sorts of medical help and their disease