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Ornithophobia Or Fear of Birds: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments And Prevention

Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder marked by fear, anxiety, distress, avoidance, and socio-occupational dysfunction due to specific situations or things which are real, pose no actual danger. A study says that in India, the prevalence of phobia is 4.2 per cent and is one of the common disorders in children of school-going age. [1]

Among the long list of phobias, ornithophobia is one which is characterised by an intense and persistent fear of birds. The fear triggers often after seeing or thinking about birds. Though the phobia is probably noticed among children, it can occur in adolescents and older people in connection to some traumatic event.

In this article, we will discuss ornithophobia and its causes, symptoms and other details. Take a look.

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Causes Of Ornithophobia

Medical experts suggest that there is no specific cause for ornithophobia, however, certain factors may cause the condition. They include.

  • Personal trauma: It includes certain traumatic events such as being attacked by birds that may have triggered the phobia.
  • Having an immediate relative with the phobia: If you are related to someone who has the fear of birds, the phobia is three times more likely to affect you too or any of the other members in the family due to observational learning.
  • Informational: If you have heard or read something negative about birds or any life-threatening situations caused by them, it may cause one to fear them.
  • Genetic: Some people are just born with the genes that have the tendency to trigger anxiousness due to phobias. The phobias due to genetic and environmental factors differ significantly as the prior can last for a lifetime while the latter can be treated by therapies. [2]

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Symptoms Of Ornithophobia

The symptoms occur mainly after seeing birds. They include:

  • Terror
  • Heart palpitation
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Panic attacks
  • Hands and leg trembling
  • A feeling of escaping from the situation
  • Nausea
  • Shivering
  • Shock
  • Crying
  • Uncontrollable shouting
  • Refusing to eat at places where birds stay or seeing their images.
  • A feeling of losing control
  • Dry mouth
  • Becoming silent or numb

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Complications Of Ornithophobia

If the fear of birds progresses, it may heighten the aforementioned symptoms and cause severe and life-threatening situations. For example, the psychological symptoms such as anxiety, avoidance behaviour, crying and numbness may heighten, resulting in social isolation, substance abuse and suicide.

Diagnosis Of Ornithophobia

Ornithophobia can easily be identified by a doctor but if they are unable to find the exact cause behind it, they may suggest you visit a psychologist, psychiatrist or any mental health expert for proper diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

As ornithophobia is an anxiety disorder, it is diagnosed based on the symptoms mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5. They may also carry out certain lab tests to know more about the reason behind the physical symptoms.

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Treatments Of Ornithophobia

The treatment methods for ornithophobia are as follows:

1. Cognitive behavioural therapy: It involves analysing the underlying thoughts and behaviours of a person which are contributing to the symptoms, and treating them.
2. Medications: Some medications such as antidepressants or other beta-blockers can help treat phobias by promoting relaxation.
3. Exposure therapy: It is a type of psychotherapy in which the person is exposed to the things or objects responsible for triggering phobia and then, training is provided to them to confront the situation along with teaching them how to control the feelings and emotions.

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How To Manage

  • Stay physically active
  • Quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • Do yoga or other relaxation exercises to prevent stress and anxiety
  • Include healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts in your diet.
  • Make a habit of sleeping on time.
  • Learn about your disorder and strictly stick to the treatment plan.
  • Practice self-help or try to manage the symptoms by yourself first.
  • Connect to people with the same condition and learn about their management skills.

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Common FAQs

1. How common is Ornithophobia?

A study published in PubMed has shown that 704 out of 1000 people have one or the other fears and phobias, including ornithophobia or the fear of birds.

2. What is the rarest phobia ever?

There is a long list of rare phobias such as trypanophobia (fear of injections), phobophobia (fear of phobias itself) and nomophobia (fear of being without mobile).

3. What causes the fear of birds?

The exact cause of fear of birds or ornithophobia is unknown, however, several factors such as personal trauma or having an immediate family member with the phobia can trigger the condition in some.

4. How to overcome the fear of birds?

Fear of birds can be overcome by many psychological treatment methods, therapies, medications or a combination of two or more.