The fear of insects is a feeling of anxiety and terror in the presence of one or more insects. It is also known by the name of entomophobia and is part of the group of specific phobias of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is one of the most common phobias and the most widespread phobia of some type of animal.
Surely in your environment there is someone who when he sees a wasp gets up from his chair, screams or goes to another place. This is what is known as insect phobia. Like most phobias, it has psychological treatment with a good prognosis. Therefore, in this Handsome & Men article, we will talk about the fear of insects: what it is, causes and how to overcome it.
What is the fear of insects
What is the fear of insects called? This type of phobia is called entomophobia. It is an irrational fear in the presence of insects. The most common fears are usually cockroaches, wasps, bees and spiders. This mental disorder usually produces general malaise and typical symptoms of anxiety.
Symptoms of fear of insects
Entomophobia, like any other type of phobias, has symptoms that can be related to anxiety. Symptoms of fear of insects can be divided into three groups:
- Cognitive symptoms: they refer to the thoughts and feelings of the person. When an insect appears, the person may think that it is going to bite or do some kind of damage. These types of thoughts would be part of the cognitive symptoms of this phobia.
- Physiological symptoms: they are those of anxiety. Tachycardias, rapid breathing, dizziness, nausea, tremors or sweating, among others, may appear.
- Behavioral symptoms: these types of symptoms refer to the different behaviors that the person performs in relation to their problem. For example, avoiding situations in which there could be some type of insects, screaming or running when it appears, throwing an object at it in order to “defend itself”, are quite common symptoms in entomophobia.
Causes of fear of insects
Why are we afraid of insects? Entomophobia, being a specific phobia, has causes very similar to other types of phobias. The causes of fear of insects can be divided into the following groups:
- Genetics: It is believed that there are some genes that make a person more likely to develop a phobia. If, for example, an uncle or cousin has a phobia of insects, there is a greater chance that you will end up developing this fear.
- Environment: refers to two types of specific situations. On the one hand, the fact that we were raised in an environment of overprotection and in which they constantly announced possible dangers to us. If your parents continually told you how dangerous wasps are or they themselves were afraid of wasps, by seeing it and receiving such messages, you learn that fear and act in a similar way. On the other hand, if you have had a traumatic experience such as a sting that had serious consequences or hearing that someone has had an experience of the kind can cause this phobia to develop.
- Allergies: it should be noted that in allergic people it is quite common to have this fear. Although, in this case, such fear could be considered justified.
How to overcome the fear of insects
How to get rid of the fear of insects? Specific phobias can be treated from psychological therapy following various types of techniques. Next, we will see how to overcome the fear of insects with different techniques:
- Cognitive restructuring: this part of the therapy would consist of modifying the irrational ideas of the person regarding their phobia. It would be about making the person have a perspective more in line with reality.
- Exposure: it would consist of making the person face the object that is feared. This exposure is usually made from a confrontation with a situation related to the phobia that causes the least fear, to the situation that causes the most fear. Exposure should not end unless anxiety has been reduced to zero. If it is complex to carry out the exhibition live, it can be done in an imagined way. In this type of phobias it is quite likely that these types of alternative techniques will have to be produced.
- Relaxation: practicing relaxation techniques that help the person better cope with the physiological symptoms of the phobia such as tachycardia or hyperventilation.
- Values: Being focused on a phobia can cause other areas of your life to be neglected or affected. For example, if you cannot sit down to eat calmly for fear of wasps, it is possible that the relationship with other diners will end up being affected. Reminding the person of this, in addition to helping them refocus on those important aspects of their life, is a very useful technique to overcome the fear of insects.