What is arachnophobia and how we treat it?
Are you scared of insects and especially spiders? There may be an explanation related to human evolution. Learn more about the arachnophobia’s causes and how to overcome the arachnophobia.
About 5 of 100 people have one or more phobias, and women are more likely than men to develop them throughout their lives. One of the most common phobias is arachnophobia, a debilitating fear of spiders.
Arachnophobia comes from the Greek words „Arachne” (spider) and „Phobos” (fear). This extreme fear of spiders and other eight-legged spiders (such as scorpions) may be a response to human evolution: spiders, especially venomous spiders, have been linked to diseases and infections for a long time.
We know that many species of spiders bite and are poisonous. Therefore, when we see a spider near us, the natural answer is to feel fear and avoid it.
For many people, the fear of spiders causes a „disgust response.” People with severe arachnophobia, however, have such an aversion for spiders that they may be afraid to enter the basement or garage, because there may be a spider. If they encounter a spider, they can leave the house, rather than deal with the situation.
When the fear of spiders causes us such anxiety that it prevents us from participating in the activities we want or need to do, or manifests itself in such a way as to be physically and mentally debilitating, we know that this became irrational.
The causes of arachnophobia
As in the case of other phobias, a person can develop arachnophobia, because it sees the reaction of other people to spiders. For her, it is a learned response – it gives her a strong impression when she sees a family member screaming of fear and leaving the house because of a spider.
Some experts consider that cultural background can influence the fear of spiders. For example, in some areas of Africa, people are afraid of big spiders, but in South Africa, where they are consuming spiders frequently, people are not scared of them.
If you had a traumatic experience involving a spider, a bite, for example, you might be more likely to develop arachnophobia
Symptoms related to arachnophobia ay first appear during childhood or adolescence. But they can also manifest in adults.
Typical symptoms include:
- Tremor and perspiration
- The feeling that you are losing control
- Increased heart rate
- Hot flashes or chills
- Chest pain
- The sensation of suffocation
- Nausea or other gastrointestinal disorders
Treatment of arachnophobia
Most often, a combination of psychotherapy and medication can be used to lessen or stop the symptoms of arachnophobia. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing, can help treat this phobia.
You can treat arachnophobia through exposure therapy to virtual reality, where you will meet the subject of phobia in a virtual world that simulates as much as possible the anxiety-generating situation. Research shows that this can be just as effective as the older technique of gradually exposing the person to real spiders.
Through cognitive restructuring, a person can learn to change the way he looks at a spider so that he no longer perceives it as dangerous. Eventually, a person can improve their physical reaction to the sight of a spider.
In some cases, your doctor can prescribe an antidepressant or anxiolytic drug as a way to treat arachnophobia.
Overcome your fear of spiders
Inform yourselves! Read about the spiders. You will learn that they attack more if they feel threatened. Occasionally, a spider bite can cause an allergic reaction. But while the bites of certain spiders, such as the black widow and the brown spider, can be dangerous, most spider bites are harmless.
Keep in mind that spiders generally bite only to protect themselves when caught between the skin and another object. You should also know that while there are over 63,000 species of spiders in the world, only 2% of them are dangerous.
Avoid spiders: store outside firewood to avoid bringing them into the house. Secure the anti-insect nets well on your doors and windows and plug any cracks in which the spiders could enter. Make sure the attic and garage are free of cobweb.
Talk to your loved ones about your fear of spiders and tell them you undergo treatment to cure this phobia. Ask your doctor to recommend a specialist who can help you defeat your arachnophobia.
Talk to an ID Therapy Specialist
Dr. Nadia Gorduza is the only psychotherapist and trainer in Romania specialized in Therapy through Virtual Reality for Phobias and Addictions.
Dr. Nadia Gorduza represents Virtually Better Inc. USA in Romania.
Schedule now a psychotherapy session
Address: Naum Ramniceanu Street, no. 23, ap. 1,
Sector 1, Bucharest, Romania