Arachnophobia (Fear of Spiders) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Last Updated: Dec 16, 2020
What is Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia is a fear of spiders and is one of the most common phobias a patient suffers from. It is also known as spider phobia. There are some people who dislike or are a little scared from arachnids or insects, but spider phobia can have a far bigger impact on your life.
A phobia is far more severe than just fear. It makes you feel, you are facing a serious threat. Arachnophobia or spider phobia can even force you not to participate in certain events or avoid particular situations as your mind keeps reminding you that you may be attacked by spiders. Once you start facing your fear, it is possible to work with it so that it does not interfere with your everyday life.
Fear of Spiders Vs Spider Webs
The fear of spiders and spiderwebs are types of intense phobias. This kind of phobia is centered around single items compared to more complex phobias, like social anxiety. Arachnophobia is one of the most common specific phobias you can develop.
The fear of spiderwebs comes under the same umbrella of Arachnophobia. One can have fear of both or just spiders. Once, someone sees the spiderweb can lead to the intense worry over seeing a spider next.
Symptoms of Arachnophobia
The symptoms of arachnophobia often occur when you put yourself in a situation of fear. These symptoms may not appear until you see a spider. You can also experience the symptoms by just thinking about spiders or even by looking at their pictures.
Many people suffering from arachnophobia overestimate their childhood encounter with spiders. There can be physical symptoms as well. Few of the physical symptoms are mentioned below:
- Upset stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heartbeat
You may also inherit the following habits to You may also have the following habits to help cope with these fears:
- avoidance of places where you might see spiders
- Anxiety as an impending encounter looms
- Overall difficulty with focusing and functioning
- Social isolation
Panic attack are common with Arachnophobia:The person suffering from may get a panic attack once they see a spider or when someone tells them that a spider is nearby. Symptoms include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Heavy perspiration
Causes of Arachnophobia
A phobia could be caused by fear of animals, objects, and places as well as certain situations. These situations occur from negative past experiences. You can suffer from arachnophobia because of a negative or serious encounter with spiders.
In many cases, this phobia can occur before the age of 10. There, however, is always a possibility of developing a phobia at any stage of life.
Phobias are linked with anxiety disorders which may be genetic. These disorders could be a generalised anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc. If you already are suffering from any kind of anxiety disorder, then you become more prone to developing all types of phobias. There is also a possibility to develop spider phobia from your environment. It could also be genetic.
How Arachnophobia is diagnosed?
This type of phobia can be self-diagnosable. Usually, there is no need of getting a phobia diagnosed by a doctor. You, however, may have to seek medical help to get over the spider phobia, in case it is significantly affecting your life. Arachnophobia can potentially affect you in the following ways:
- Make it difficult to step outside your house
- Affect your work efficiency
- Impact your social life
- Prevent you from spending time with family & friends
- Lead to insomnia
If you are facing any of the above mentioned problems, you must consult a psychotherapist to combat your spider phobia. To help you out, the doctor may opt for exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy as per your need.
Your therapist will help you fight with your fear to make you brave enough to face any scary encounters with spiders. This process is called desensitization or exposure therapy. The sooner you will take the therapy, the greater the chances are to treat your phobia. Remember, delaying professional help will make it much more difficult to treat your phobias.
Treatment for Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia is much easier to treat as compared to other complex phobias. You may experience few symptoms of arachnophobia as an adult if it already affected your childhood.
Counseling: One of the most effective ways to treat phobias is mental health counseling. Medications are not always a good option to go for as this doesn’t help in getting rid of the underlying causes of the phobias. It only helps in treating underlying anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral TheoryThe therapist tries to replace the negative thoughts related to spiders with more rational thoughts. A health professional will use systemic desensitization to treat arachnophobia. This method of learning relaxation techniques and then confronting our fears from what we fear the least is what we fear the most.
In CBT, an individual can learn to change the way of looking at spiders so that he or she no longer perceives them as dangerous and disgusting. Eventually, the therapy will help the person to change his or her physical reaction to seeing a spider.
Exposure Therapy: This therapy involves gradually exposing a sufferer to their phobia. Some researchers also suggest that virtual reality helps with arachnophobia. Studies state that allowing a person to control when and the amount of exposure to the spider may lead to quicker improvements, instead of not offering them control.
Exposure therapy is a more extreme technique where the therapist immediately exposes the individual to their phobia until the individual anxiety reduces.
Hypnotherapy:Some research suggests that hypnosis can help people to overcome their fear of spiders. However, there is no evidence in support. It uses relaxation methods to induce a state of focused attention. The therapist will then use the techniques and show imagery to help reduce the phobia.
Medications to treat Arachnophobia:
Below, we have mentioned a few medications that would not treat spider phobias directly but it will surely improve anxiety symptoms as well. The medications include:
- Anxiety supplements
Eating a healthy diet and exercising also helps in decreasing anxiety and subsequent symptoms of phobias.
How to overcome the Fear of Spiders?
Arachnophobia or spider phobia is only one of the many phobias that people generally feel during a lifetime. Like other types of phobias, arachnophobia coils occur from a bad experience with the spiders. But, it is a great thing that it is easily treatable with some proper therapy and self-confidence.
Taking therapy sessions is one of the most effective ways to diminish your spider phobia. The sooner you cope up with your fear, the better you will feel.
Additional information on Arachnophobia:
Arachnophobia is just one of many phobias that can occur anytime. The fear of spiders usually rooted from a previous bad experience. Getting over arachnophobia is a time taking process. So, you should not expect to be cured overnight.
The treatment of this phobia can also help you in overcoming your other phobias and sources of anxiety. There can be times when mental health treatment becomes a lifelong process for some people.
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