What is Deipnophobia?

Marco Sumayao
Marco Sumayao
People who suffer from deipnophobia may benefit from psychotherapy.
People who suffer from deipnophobia may benefit from psychotherapy.

A phobia is defined as a strong, persistent fear of particular situations, objects or activities. Deipnophobia, in particular, is one of the lesser-known phobias. In layman’s terms, it is the fear of dinner conversations. Deipnophobia in its most severe forms might cause an individual to avoid eating in social situations altogether.

Phobias are often triggered by traumatic experiences, usually those that occur at an early age. Deipnophobia, for instance, might start from something as simple as being told as children not to talk too much when having dinner. The phobia might also arise from an embarrassing experience, such as being ridiculed at the family dining table. Chemical make-up and genetics, however, can predispose an individual to developing a clinically diagnosable fear. Specific reasons as to how full-blown phobias come about differ between individuals, and are treated on a case-to-case basis.

The physical symptoms of deipnophobia can include a full-fledged panic attack.
The physical symptoms of deipnophobia can include a full-fledged panic attack.

An individual with deipnophobia is not necessarily shy, but he will take measures to avoid having a meal with anyone. A person suffering from deipnophobia might find himself unable to eat with a companion, where the possibility of conversing with someone while eating presents itself. If eating with a companion is unavoidable, someone with a severe case of deipnophobia might choose to skip the meal instead.

Hypnotherapy may be used to overcome a fear of dinner conversations.
Hypnotherapy may be used to overcome a fear of dinner conversations.

Deipnophobia is by definition a social phobia. People affected with this phobia are not afraid of food or eating, but of situations that push them into interacting with others. They dread the apparent responsibility to hold a conversation while having large meals such as Thanksgiving dinners, or even over a small cup of coffee. They fear that they may not live up to the other’s expectations or be entertaining enough. At most, they fear they will be deemed unworthy of the others’ company and feel a great sense of shame as a result.

Loss of appetite is often considered a basic symptom of deipnophobia.
Loss of appetite is often considered a basic symptom of deipnophobia.

Since deipnophobia is strongly connected with a person’s eating habits, loss of appetite is often considered a basic symptom. This loss of appetite might be real, or it might be a fabricated excuse to avoid meals. Other symptoms include panic attacks, fidgeting during meals, elevated heart rates, nausea, vomiting and trembling.

Although medication is available to help suppress the anxiety associated with the condition, there is no specific prescription drug to treat deipnophobia. Psychological counseling is often recommended to cope with this kind of crippling fear. Regular therapy allows patients to get to the root of the problem and resolve any issues that might have led to the phobia and its persistence.

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    • People who suffer from deipnophobia may benefit from psychotherapy.
      By: michaeljung
      People who suffer from deipnophobia may benefit from psychotherapy.
    • The physical symptoms of deipnophobia can include a full-fledged panic attack.
      By: nadezhda1906
      The physical symptoms of deipnophobia can include a full-fledged panic attack.
    • Hypnotherapy may be used to overcome a fear of dinner conversations.
      By: James Steidl
      Hypnotherapy may be used to overcome a fear of dinner conversations.
    • Loss of appetite is often considered a basic symptom of deipnophobia.
      By: Ivonne Wierink
      Loss of appetite is often considered a basic symptom of deipnophobia.
    • People with deipnophobia may dread the responsibility of holding a conversation while having a meal or a cup of coffee with others.
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      People with deipnophobia may dread the responsibility of holding a conversation while having a meal or a cup of coffee with others.
    • Those with deipnophobia may also avoid crowds, because they fear being forced to interact with others.
      By: adisa
      Those with deipnophobia may also avoid crowds, because they fear being forced to interact with others.
    • People with deipnophobia may experience trembling when near crowds.
      By: blanche
      People with deipnophobia may experience trembling when near crowds.
    • For most people, dinner can serve as an opportunity for conversation and other social interaction.
      By: Alexander Zhiltsov
      For most people, dinner can serve as an opportunity for conversation and other social interaction.