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Entomophobia Or Fear Of Insects: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors And Treatments

Entomophobia is a medical condition characterised by an extreme and persistent fear of insects. The condition is not the same as merely disliking insects, but experiencing extreme anxiety in the presence of or looking at insects, even though the individual is aware that such creatures pose no threat to humans. The phobia may affect the day-to-day lives of people. [1]

Studies say that entomophobia is often accompanied by other phobia types such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), apiphobia (fear of bees), helmonthrophobia (fear of worms) or hypochondrial psychosis (fear of animal parasites). [2]

People with entomophobia are often afraid of getting contaminated, bitten or infested by insects or bugs.

Take a look at the details of entomophobia.

Causes Of Entomophobia

Some of the causes of entomophobia include:

  • Family history: Having a history of anxiety disorders in parents or close relatives can increase the risk of anxiety disorders or phobias like entomophobia. [3]
  • Past traumatic events: Individuals who have experienced a terrible event involving insects in their developing age may become entomophobic. For instance, a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting in the past may give rise to a phobia related to insects. Also, early episodes of disease due to insects or bug infestations at home may give rise to the same. [4]
  • Environmental irritants: Certain irritants like pollen or mould, which are present in the environment, can affect a person's skin and cause skin irritation. Persistent occurrences of skin irritation can sometimes, make people blame insects and lead to entomophobia.

Symptoms Of Entomophobia

Some of the symptoms of entomophobia may include:

  • Extreme dislike or fear of insects. [5]
  • Persistent itching
  • Immediate anxiety or fear when thinking or seeing an insect.
  • Panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Actions such as avoiding places where insects are present.
  • Shortness of breath

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Risk Factors Of Entomophobia

People who are at greater risk of developing entomophobia include people with

  • Anxiety disorders. [6]
  • Substance use disorder.
  • Having other phobia types.
  • Panic disorders.

Complications Of Entomophobia

Some of the complications of entomophobia include:

  • Social isolation. [7]
  • Relationship problems.
  • Heart attack due to sudden panic.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Substance abuse.

Diagnosis Of Entomophobia

A doctor will perform a clinical interview where they will examine the symptoms and go through the patient's medical and psychological history to determine whether they have entomophobia due to family history or due to other causes.

Based on the physical and psychological symptoms and guidelines outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), they will confirm the diagnosis of the condition.

Treatments Of Entomophobia

Some of the treatment methods for entomophobia include:

  • Medications: To reduce physical symptoms such as anxiety, heart palpitations or shortness of breath.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: It include behavioural techniques to cope well with phobias and learn how to identify the triggers and manage them well. [8]
  • Hypnotherapy: It helps create a state of attention, so that people can focus deeply on their phobias and learn how to manage them well. [9]
  • Yoga/Meditation: It helps people learn how to reduce their anxiety and stress and cope with their phobias.

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To Conclude

If you have entomophobia it is suggested to consult a medical expert as early as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember, complete treatment and management of a phobia is possible, though it may take some time and require dedication and commitment.

Story first published: Monday, July 4, 2022, 16:30 [IST]
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