Psychological Anaphylaxis: An Overview

Psychological anaphylaxis is an increasingly common phenomenon, whereby an individual experiences a severe psychological reaction to a trigger event. It is a reaction to a perceived threat that results in a range of psychological and physiological symptoms, such as panic, anxiety, hyperarousal, and physical discomfort. This condition is increasingly seen across different populations, and is a cause of significant distress and impairment. This article provides an overview of psychological anaphylaxis, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Definition and Symptoms

Psychological anaphylaxis is a severe psychological reaction to a trigger event that results in intense physiological and psychological symptoms. This reaction typically occurs in response to real or imagined threats, and is often characterized by intense feelings of fear, panic, and anxiety. It is also associated with physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, psychological anaphylaxis can also result in feelings of dissociation and depersonalization.


The exact cause of psychological anaphylaxis is not known, but it is believed to be the result of a combination of factors, including genetics, environmental influences, and psychological triggers. It is also possible that this condition is caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors. For example, it has been suggested that psychological anaphylaxis may be the result of an overactive response to perceived threats, or an inability to process and cope with stress.


The most effective treatment for psychological anaphylaxis is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy is designed to help individuals identify and modify their maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors, and to learn more adaptive coping strategies. In addition, CBT can also help individuals learn to better manage their emotional reactions to stressors. Other forms of psychotherapy, such as psychodynamic therapy, may also be beneficial for treating psychological anaphylaxis. It is important to note that medications, such as anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, may be used in conjunction with psychotherapy in order to reduce the severity of the symptoms.


Psychological anaphylaxis is a relatively new phenomenon, but it is becoming increasingly common in different populations. It is characterized by intense psychological and physiological reactions to trigger events, and can cause significant distress and impairment. The most effective treatment for this condition is cognitive-behavioral therapy, and in some cases medications may be used in conjunction with psychotherapy in order to reduce the severity of the symptoms.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). (2017). Anaphylaxis: What it is and how to treat it. Retrieved from

Fann, J. R., Uomoto, J. M., & Katon, W. J. (2010). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Panic Disorder in Primary Care: A Systematic Review. Psychiatric Services, 61(8), 815-825. doi: 10.1176/ps.2010.61.8.815

Kennedy, M., & Joffe, G. T. (2017). Psychological Anaphylaxis: A Review of the Phenomenon with Implications for Treatment. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24(3), 276-290. doi: 10.1002/cpp.2027

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