What Causes Fear Of Spiders
Some may develop a fear of spiders from a traumatic event involving the creatures. Signals in the brain or an imbalance of fight-or-flight chemicals such as noradrenaline may also trigger these fear episodes. Take for instance doing a common chore like picking something up off the porch or moving a box from a corner of the closet. If a large house spider scurries up your arm, you may be scarred for life with a mild fear of spiders.
One study showed that in an experiment done with young children, spiders and snakes provoked the most pupil dilation as compared to flowers or fish. This even in children that are so young they couldnt possibly have learned that spiders are something dangerous. Which may point to the theory that fear of spiders is evolutionary or with us from birth.
Treating Arachnophobia With Therapy
Lead researchers Marieke Soeter and Merel Kindt, of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, wanted to explore whether memory reconsolidation, a treatment originally developed by neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux for the treatment of posttraumatic stress, could treat arachnophobia. The concept behind reconsolidation is to change the way the brain processes memories that may be upsetting, thereby altering trauma-related thoughts and behaviors.
Soeter and Kindt recruited 45 subjects with arachnophobia. Each group was exposed to a tarantula for two minutes, resulting in a predicted fearful response. After being exposed to the spider, half of participants received a 40-milligram dose of propanolol. The other half received a placebo. Propanolol is a beta-blocker but has also been shown to have amnesic properties.
As predicted, participants who received the beta-blocker experienced significant reduction in fear-related avoidance behavior. They were also more willing to approach spiders, even a year after the study.
What Happens If You Kill A Spider
So killing a spider doesn’t just cost the arachnid its life, it may take an important predator out of your home. It’s natural to fear spiders. They have lots of legs and almost all are venomous though the majority of species have venom too weak to cause issues in humans, if their fangs can pierce our skin at all.
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Medical Definition Of Fear Of Spiders
- Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Reviewed on 3/29/2021
Fear of spiders: An abnormal and persistent fear of spiders. Sufferers of this fear experience undue anxiety even though they realize the risk of encountering a spider and being harmed by it is small or nonexistent. They may avoid going barefoot and may be especially alert when taking showers or getting into and out of bed. This phobia was exploited in a 1990 movie called Arachnophobia.
Fear of spiders is termed “Arachnophobia,” a word derived from the Greek “arachne” and “phobos” . The Greek word was derived from the name “Arachne,” a maiden in Greek mythology whom the goddess Athena turned into a spider after the girl, a skilled weaver, challenged Athena to a weaving contest.
“Arachno-” is also part of the term “arachnodactyly” which refers to long spider-like fingers and toes, a frequent finding in , a heritable disorder of connective tissue.
How Is Arachnophobia Treated
Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are the two main treatments for arachnophobia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy : This type of psychotherapy focuses on managing your phobia by changing the way you think, feel and behave.
During CBT, youll:
- Discuss your symptoms and describe how you feel.
- Explore your phobia more deeply to gain insight into how to respond.
- Learn how to recognize, reevaluate and change your thinking.
- Use problem-solving skills to learn how to cope.
- Face your phobia instead of avoiding it.
- Learn how to keep your mind and body calm.
Exposure therapy : In this type of psychotherapy, you are gradually exposed to your feared situation. With gradual, repeated exposure, the goal is that you will feel comfortable when faced with your feared situation and, in this case, to recognize that spiders are not dangerous .
Exposure therapy may involve:
- Recalling and describing your feared experience.
- Looking at pictures or using virtual reality to get close to the real feared experience yet be in a safe environment.
- Facing your feared phobia directly, in real life.
Exposure therapy can be paced in in several ways. Therapy also includes relaxation and breathing exercises. Your psychologist will develop a unique plan for you, based on the severity of your symptoms.
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Adjustment Of Presentation Intervals
One of the assumptions that served to delineate the SLAT in ) deals with avoiding a high activation in the neural circuits involved in fear. For this reason, we elaborated a procedure to exclude from the final therapeutic presentation those images that might produce discomfort in the patients, keeping only the more comfortable images that would probably not produce a high degree of activation in these neural circuits.
We adopted the following procedure.
Once the entire set of figures had been shown to the patient in a preparatorypresentation, we asked the patient to see the figures once more and collaboratewith us to determine the adjusted duration, Tad, of each one of theimages. The patient was instructed as follows: Each one of the followingimages will be presented by default for 5 seconds. If you do not like theimage, press the Enter button to passto the following image sooner. The sooner you press the button, the morefearful we will understand the image to be for you.
After seeing all images the subjects were asked:
Which images, if any, are intolerable?
Which images are tolerable?
Which images are so nice that you might place them in your bedroom?
With all this information, nine rules were applied to obtain the final duration of each image, Tad, in the presentation. As some patients were faster than others in pressing the Enter button, the average time Tm for each subject served as the patient’s unit of time.
Intolerable images with T< T1 were also eliminated.
Caring For Someone With Arachnophobia
Any mental health issue needs to be dealt with very carefully, especially by the sufferers support system. With the right guidance and support, Arachnophobia can be dealt with swiftly.
People suffering from spider phobia need to feel like they have a home environment that is safe from spiders. It is important to be adjusting until the individual is able to make progress in their therapy.
This may involve putting up with bright lights both during the day and night, as well as multiple requests to have a look in the cupboard and bathroom.
You could also use some self-help books recommended by the therapist to help the individual through their therapy. There are often useful, safe exercises that can be done to improve the individuals mental strength and help them through their therapy.
Reassuring the person that they will be fine and the treatment will be successful in removing their irrational fears is important, and ensuring that they continue with their therapy, however reluctantly is absolutely essential. Using spider phobia facts to help them recognize the irrationality of their fear is also helpful.
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Fear Of Spiders Vs Spiderwebs
Both the intense fear of spiders and spiderwebs are types of specific phobias. These types of phobias center around single items compared to more complex phobias, such as social anxiety. Arachnophobia is one of the most common specific phobias you can develop.
A fear of spiderwebs falls under the same umbrella of arachnophobia. You might have a fear of both spiders and spiderwebs, or just spiders individually. For some, seeing a spiderweb can lead to the intense worry over seeing a spider next.
Spiders Snakes And Dirt: Phobia Class Turns Fear Into Fascination
Many Americans have phobias an extreme, irrational or aversive fear of something. Often phobias are triggered by things found in the natural world, but are those fears unfounded?
Jones, who created the class in 2016 alongside his wife, biologist Leah Connell, said he wanted to teach a course that would get students interested in the natural sciences.
The course is more about the need for humans to have a connection to nature and all the reasons why we withdraw from that, he said. Phobias are a big part of that, especially of snakes and spiders, but also of getting dirty.
Theres a lot of room for people to choose their own path with this course. Students get to pick which phobia they focus on with their final synthesis paper at the end of the class.
Jones said snakes are the most common phobia written about in his class, followed closely by sharks. Spiders and dirt are up there as well. Of those, a phobia of serpents, also known as ophidiophobia, appears to be the only one that triggers some sort of inherent response.
When showing babies photos of puppies and snakes, they tend to naturally become more alert when they see snakes, Jones said. So, some of these concerns are built in.
A lot of phobias are an extreme response and sometimes irrational because it colors our perception to where were constantly worried about them.
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How Common Is Arachnophobia
Arachnophobia is very much common in people and has been ranked as the third worst phobia that people suffer from. At least 3.5% 6.1% of the population is likely to have arachnophobia. 30.5% of the population of the U.S suffer from arachnophobia. Among those having arachnophobia, women are in greater number. Studies show that 2 percent among those seek help from expert for treatment.
How Get Over Fear Of Spiders
Therapists and doctors may offer a range of therapy and counseling and for serious cases, medications. Fear A to Z does not recommend medications, but antidepressants or an anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed by your health professional in certain instances.
Psychotherapy is the most used and probably most effective treatment for serious phobia conditions. Discussing your fears with a trained specialist can help work through your issues and offer some needed relief. Cognitive reframing may be offered and is a technique used by psychologists to identify irrational thoughts and then disrupting those thoughts which may help change the way your brain views spiders.
Systematic desensitization is another option and is a behavioral technique that can be used to treat fear and phobias. The affected person is put through types of relaxation exercises and then gradually exposed to fear producing stimuli, such as places or objects. This therapy utilizes the item that causes the fear to treat the fear basically. It may sound troubling but has been proven to be effective.
If you are not a spider lover such as those who collect spiders from around the world and keep them as pets, then it is likely you may have a fear of the eight-legged wonders. And youre not alone.
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Fast Facts About Arachnophobia
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Clinical psychologist Sophie Li gives us the lowdown on crippling fear of spiders.
1. What is arachnophobia?
Arachnophobia is an excessive fear of spiders that results in the affected person actively avoiding direct contact with spiders, or even any mention or depiction of them. The process of avoiding spiders usually has a significant impact on their daily life by either restricting where they can go, what they can do, or resulting in significant emotional distress.
2. How does one develop arachnophobia?
There are several theories. One is that through evolutionary processes we are predisposed to develop a fear of things that threatened the safety of early humans . Another is that fear of spiders is promoted through cultural and social mechanisms. For example, spiders are usually depicted as creepy, dangerous and threatening. Finally, a fear of spiders may develop because of a past unpleasant experience with a spider.
3. Is there a treatment or a cure?
4. What do arachnophobes think will happen when they see a spider?
5. What kind of impact does arachnophobia have on a persons life?
Clinical Psychologist Dr Sophie Li will join a toxicologist and arachnologist to host upcoming Night Talk:Should We Fear Spiders?on Tuesday 21 March.
How Do You Overcome Arachnophobia
People suffering from spider phobia can be intensely suspicious of their surroundings and become mildly catatonic due to the fear of going to a place where they cannot be sure that there are no spiders.
It is important to begin the treatment of this condition as soon as it is diagnosed so that the sufferer can resume normal living as soon as possible.
A good support system and therapy from a medical professional can reverse the effects of the phobia and make the fear of spiders a thing of the past. Prolonging Arachnophobia treatment can have many adverse effects and increase the time that needs to be spent on therapy.
Researching spider phobia facts and the fear of spiders definition may help identify people suffering from the condition at an earlier stage.
Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy working in tandem can be immensely helpful to the individual in their recovery from their Arachnophobia.
How Do You Know If You Have Arachnophobia
We all know someone who is afraid of spiders. It might even be you that feels a shiver run down your spine every time you spot one of these 8-legged creatures. But some people experience this fear so strongly it’s classified as a phobia. This intense fear of spiders is called Arachnophobia. Well cover some symptoms and causes so you can tell if you or someone you know has moved from being scared to developing a phobia of spiders.
What is Arachnophobia?
Arachnophobia isnt just your everyday dislike of spiders, it refers to developing a phobia of either the spider itself or spiderwebs. A phobia is classified as a type of anxiety disorder which is an irrational fear reaction. When you suffer from a phobia you might experience a strong sense of panic or dread when you come face to face with your fear. Compared to general anxiety disorders, a phobia is most often associated with something quite specific.
If you dont suffer from a phobia Arachnophobia might seem a bit nonsensical, but those who suffer from it go through extreme fear when encountering spiders. A person who has Arachnophobia will go out of their way to avoid coming into contact with spiders or spider webs. The avoidance and panic spiders cause will interfere with their life.
If you suffer from Arachnophobia youll find yourself going to extreme lengths to avoid interactions with spiders.
Do You Have A Spider Phobia
Spider phobia is also called Arachnophobia and it implies a severe fear of these animals that trigger physical, emotional and behavioural reactions.
Does your stomach crunch when you think about spiders?
Do you panic when you see a spider?
Do you avoid places or activities for fear of spiders?
How does it feel to have Arachnophobia?
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When To Visit A Doctor
If the above symptoms have been occurring for more than six months to the severity that the persons daily life has been disrupted, then one needs to immediately consult with a doctor. However, if youre fearful about spiders but the fear has not created any kind of disturbance in your daily life, then you do not require visiting a doctor.
Are Medications Used To Treat Arachnophobia
Medications dont treat arachnophobia, but are sometimes prescribed, for a short period of time, to treat the anxiety caused by your fear of spiders. Medications, if used, are usually part of total psychotherapy treatment plan. If your healthcare provider thinks you need medication, the drug classes most often prescribed are:
- Benzodiazepines, such as the antianxiety drugs alprazolam , clonazepam and diazepam .
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as the antidepressants paroxetine or escitalopram .
- Other medication options may include sedatives, tranquilizers and beta blockers.
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Some Researchers Think You Might Be Scared Of Spiders Due To Something Called Spider Trauma
One study out of the University of Maastricht found that something called “spider trauma” could be at the root of arachnophobia. Spider trauma refers to a scary, spider-related event that conditions an individual to fear arachnids. This traumatic event is often thought to occur during childhood and may even be forgotten by the person, while the fear of spiders persists.
According to researchers, children who were highly fearful of spidersreported more scary experiences with the critters than kids who weren’t as afraid of spiders.
The kids in the study also reported thatspiders were their top fear, with kidnapping and predators coming in second and third, respectively.
Self Help For Your Fear Of Spiders
Of course the instant relief from these symptoms would be to remove yourself from the area where the spider has been seen.
Practice simple common sense steps such as keeping your home or living area free of spiders by using sprays, traps, or DIY treatments such as Essential Oils & Dish Soap. If you do not come into contact with spiders then it will limit your fear-induced episodes.
Learn about the spiders in your area. Research the types and you will more than likely see they are HARMLESS. This can help ease your mind some.
Try to see the beauty and amazement of spiders. They are fascinating creatures and very useful to man and agriculture. Develop an interest from a curiosity point of view.
Meditation and focus may work for those who have experience and success with deep thought, self-help techniques.
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How Do I Know At What Point I Need To See My Doctor For My Arachnophobia
It may be time to see your healthcare provider if your intense fear of spiders:
- Interferes with your daily activities.
- Keeps you away from outdoor activities or special events with family and friends.
- Consumes your thoughts most of the time.
- Keeps you up at night.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It may be comforting to know that many people have phobias. Your healthcare provider is ready to help you. The good news is that arachnophobia is a treatable condition. With treatment and your commitment to practice the techniques you learn in therapy, you can learn to manage your fear of spiders and enjoy your life.