Zoophobia is a fear of animals that is extreme and uncontrollable. It can cause a lot of tension and harm one’s quality of life. Zoophobia and other phobia-related anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are highly treatable. Zoophobia, or a fear of animals, is an anxiety condition in which people feel anxious or afraid when they see or hear about animals. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems, affecting 31.1 percent of people in the United States and an estimated 264 million people worldwide each year.
A phobia is a strong aversion to or apprehension about a particular object or circumstance. Most people are anxious when exposed to phobia stimuli such as blood, needles, or heights. An individual with a phobia, on the other hand, experiences intense fear and anxiety that far outweighs the actual danger posed by the circumstance or entity.
Types of phobia
Phobias come in a variety of forms, including:
- Specific phobias arise when a person experiences excessive fear or anxiety in response to a specific object or circumstance.
- Social anxiety disorder: This was formerly known as social phobia. It is characterized by a high level of anxiety in social and performative situations.
- Agoraphobia: The fear of being trapped in dangerous conditions or circumstances where escaping is impossible, and assistance is inaccessible.
- A type of particular phobias is Zoophobia.
Following are some examples of Zoophobia:
- Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders
- Apiphobia is the fear of bees
- Cynophobia is the fear of dogs
- Entomophobia is a fear of insects
- Ichthyophobia is the fear of fish
- Ornithophobia is the fear of birds
- Musophobia is the danger of mice and rats
- Ornithophobia is the fear of snakes
- Ranidaphobia is the phobia of frogs and toads
- Herpetophobia is the fear of reptiles
- Equinophobia is the fear of horses
- Helminthophobia is the fear of worms
- Chiroptophobia is the fear of bats
Causes of Zoophobia
According to a study done in 2015, in Germany, 5.4 percent to 11.1 percent of the general population had a specific phobia in the previous 12 months. They also discovered that 8.3 percent to 13.8 percent of people had had severe phobias at some point in their lives.
According to the study done in 2018, the most common individual phobias are Zoophobia and fear of heights. Many particular phobias are yet to be identified as to what causes them. After an incredibly stressful or terrifying experience, an individual may develop a phobia.
After seeing a phobic response in a parent, caregiver, or other household members, a child can adopt or acquire a phobia. For example, after being bitten by a dog as a child, you might develop a fear of dogs.
While a person can develop a specific phobia at any age, according to a 2017 report, most specific phobias develop during childhood, around the age of eight. Based on the authors’ study in 2018, many phobias may come and go during childhood and adolescence, but some may continue into adulthood.
Females are more expected to have Zoophobia than males. According to the World Mental Health Surveys, about 9.8% of females, compared to just 4.9 percent of males, have a particular phobia.
Symptoms of Zoophobia
The following are some of the common signs and symptoms of Zoophobia:
- trying to stop the source of fear at all costs
- A feeling of unmanageable fear around the animal or while imagining about an animal.
- recognizing that the fear response is excessive and disproportionate to the actual danger, but still being unable to control the feelings
- an inability to act when confronted with an animal that causes fear
- Panic attacks
Physical symptoms may result from these psychological responses:
- An elevated pulse rates
- Breathing that is shallow or rapid
- Trembling or shaking
- Dry mouth
- A feeling of bafflement
Zoophobia in Children
Children with Zoophobia can use the following acts to convey their anxiety or fear:
- trying to hide behind someone or something
- physically clinging to a caregiver
- being silent or still
There are a few treatment options for phobias like Zoophobia that can help treat or even cure them. Some of the options are discussed in greater depth in the sections below.
Exposure therapy is a form of treatment that involves exposure. Exposure therapy is currently the most common treatment option for Zoophobia and other phobia disorders. Exposure therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aids in the confrontation and eventual overcoming of phobias and other anxiety disorders. A qualified mental health professional can gradually introduce an individual to the root of their anxiety or fear during exposure therapy. During the exposure sessions, the mental health professional will record the person’s responses, emotions, feelings, and sensations.
Let’s look at how one form of zoophobia, ornithophobia (fear of birds), could improve over time with this type of therapy. Following is the most basic scenario in which the therapist will ask you to;
- Think about birds
- talk about birds
- watch a video reel with various types of birds
- look at an image of a bird
- listen to the sounds of birds chirping
- visit a zoo to observe the birds
- petting or handling a bird
- allowing a bird to rest on your arm or shoulder
Your therapist will teach you skills to overcome the fear that arises from your phobia as part of your exposure therapy. Breathing and calming methods are examples of such techniques.
Exposure therapy does not necessarily necessitate the presence of an animal. Virtual reality can also be used as part of exposure therapy, according to a small study done in 2016.
Who performs Exposure therapy?
Exposure therapy can only be administered by a licensed mental health professional. The mental health professional should have undergone specialized training and education in managing anxiety disorders and implementing exposure therapy.
Cognitive behavior therapy
Another essential treatment for Zoophobia and other anxiety disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT aims to recognize and change irrational thoughts and beliefs. CBT patients typically work with a licensed therapist to learn a set of skills that can help them recognize and control irrational beliefs and negative behavior patterns. Specific phobias may be a single fear or a set of fears. Individuals with multiple phobias have a greater chance of having mood swings or anxiety disorders than people with a single phobia.
For people with multiple phobias or anxiety disorders, a mental health professional may prescribe a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and medication. The following are some examples of effective anxiety medications:
- tranquilisers, such as benzodiazepines
- antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- tricyclic antidepressants beta-blockers, which help alleviate anxiety symptoms such as hypertension and a fast heartbeat
Zoophobia does not have a one-size-fits-all therapy. Treatment plans are tailored to each individual’s symptoms, needs, and lifestyle. Even though there are several effective therapies for treating anxiety disorders, all pharmacological treatments come with the risk of side effects. Before pursuing any treatment option, a person should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits.
How can you deal with it?
If you have Zoophobia, there are a few things you can do to cope:
- Limit certain activities: Avoiding activities where animals are likely to be present will exacerbate your phobia.
- Maintain a safe lifestyle: Taking care of yourself by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and having enough sleep will alleviate the symptoms.
- Try some stress-relieving methods: Find a stress-reduction method that works for you. Yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are few examples.
- Make friends with others: Talk to other people about how you’re feeling, such as family and friends. It can also be beneficial to join a support group.
When do you seek medical help?
If your phobia’s physical manifestations interfere with your everyday life, it’s the best idea to take help from a health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist.
A particular phobia can cause problems in the following areas of your life:
- friendships and family relationships
- social experiences at work or school regularly
- It would be helpful if you talked to a mental health professional about your thoughts and symptoms. They will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs based on this information.
Zoophobia, or a fear of animals, is a form of phobia in children due to a traumatic or emotionally draining encounter. When introduced to a specific animal type, people with zoophobia experience a wide range of symptoms, including severe, uncontrollable fear. On the other hand, Zoophobia may be effectively treated with exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or both. People who have Zoophobia can also suffer from other phobias, as well as anxiety or mood disorders. Multiple mental health issues may necessitate a combined treatment approach that includes both medication and counseling.
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