How to overcome animal phobias
How to overcome animal phobias; Animal phobias are intense anxiety and fear of animals. This state of anxiety and fear can be experienced against a single animal or multiple animals at the same time.
Cat, dog, spider, mouse and snake phobias are the most common animal phobias. People with animal phobias may experience feelings of fear or disgust towards a particular animal. Phobias are generally states of deep anxiety and fear towards an object or creature, but as a result of research, one of the emotions that cause animal phobia is disgust. It has even been observed that disgust causes phobia more than fear.
Animal phobias also have an impact on people’s social lives. People with phobias tend to avoid animals that they feel fear and anxiety about. Therefore, there are many things they want to do but cannot do just because of their phobia. For example, people with cat/dog phobia may prefer not to eat out because they are afraid of cats/dogs, or they may not want to go to the houses of friends who have cats/dogs.
It should be noted that animal phobias do not mean “not liking animals”. This is what most people think when they hear about someone who is phobic of an animal, but this is not the case. Phobias do not depend on people’s preferences, they are a psychological condition. Therefore, they should not be associated with animal love.
Causes of Animal Phobias
One of the factors that cause animal phobias is the negative events experienced in childhood with the phobic animal. For example, people who have seen a mouse close to them at a young age may develop mouse phobia, or a child who has been scratched by a cat may develop cat phobia in the future.
However, the factors that cause animal phobias are not entirely caused by an event. Genetic predisposition is also effective in having phobias against animals. If members of our family have a fear and anxiety towards certain animals, we are likely to develop phobias towards those animals. Children who have never seen that animal before or have experienced a negative situation with it may develop a fear of that animal from an early age. For example: The child of a mother who has a fear of snakes may have a snake phobia even if she has never seen a snake, or the son of a father who has been bitten by a dog may have a dog phobia even if he has never seen any negative behavior from dogs.
Symptoms of Animal Phobias
As with many phobias, people with animal phobias show symptoms such as panic, dizziness, feeling of suffocation, rapid breathing, crying, sweating and trembling. In addition, people with animal phobias may also react by freezing or running away when they see the phobic animal. A person with dog phobia may have a flight reflex when they see a dog walking on the street, or a person with spider phobia may freeze in place when they see a spider.
Can Animal Phobias Be Treated?
Animal phobias, like many other phobias, can be treated. One of the most effective treatment methods for this type of phobia is cognitive behavioral therapy. During the sessions, the psychotherapist examines the events that cause the phobia and the person’s feelings about the feared animal and develops a treatment method based on this examination.
Another treatment method is gradual desensitization. In this method, patients are gradually exposed to the phobic animal. This can first be with the help of a picture or a video. Then, provided that the patient does not become too anxious, the contact with the animal itself is initiated.
Another treatment method is medication. Although it is not a recommended treatment method, medication may become compulsory due to the reactions of people with phobias. The medications that psychotherapists deem appropriate help patients to remain calm when they experience feelings of fear and anxiety when they encounter the animal.