Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Zoophobia is a fear of animals. This phobia is quite common among young children, and in some people, it persists into adulthood. For patients, this condition can be very debilitating and distressing, since many people make animals a part of their lives, and non-human animals are a common sight around the world.
In some cases, someone with zoophobia simply fears all animals, great and small alike. Other patients may fear a specific kind of animals; entomophobia, for example, is the fear of insects. There are a number of causes for this disorder to develop, ranging from childhood trauma to the obscure workings of the brain. Understanding the cause is often an important part of therapy.
Zoophobia is commonly caused in childhood or can be traced back to a traumatic event the person has had in dealing with an animal. These fears slowly begin to manifest themselves and will reappear if the person is placed in a stressful situation; this would be any environment shared or containing any type of animal.
Zoophobia should not be confused with sensible fear of dangerous or threatening animals, such as the fear of wild bears or venomous snakes. It is a phobia of animals that causes distress and/or dysfunction in the individual's everyday life.
Symptoms that are usually associated with zoophobia are also commonly seen in panic attacks on other anxiety disorders. If a zoophobic person is placed in a stressful situation, they may experience one or more of the following:
Change in blood pressure and heart rate.
Dizziness or nausea.
Desire to flee.
Stress or anxiety in the presence of or due to the thought of animals.
Fear of all animals, regardless of type.
Trouble breathing or panic.
Recognize that you have zoophobia. As with many phobic disorders, it may be difficult to at first accept the fact that you suffer from a phobia, so try to be as objective as possible about your condition.Explore external causes. Some phobias arise from past experiences, while others can be inherent regardless of contact you have had with the source of your fear. More likely, it is a combination of both, so try to think back through your history with animals to discover a turning point or catalyst that caused your intense fear.
Treatment can incorporate a number of approaches. Some sort of behavioral therapy is usually strongly recommended. This can include sessions in which a patient simply talks with a therapist about the phobia to explore the cause and potential approaches, or desensitization sessions, in which the patient is exposed to animals or images of animals in small increments to grow more comfortable with them. Therapy animals who have been specifically trained to deal with people in distress may be used for this type of therapy.
People may also take medications to manage zoophobia. This option is usually offered in cases where people suffer such severe fear and anxiety that other types of therapy cannot even be started because the patient is too afraid. Medications will be used to dull the phobic response to animals so that the patient and therapist can work together in sessions and develop a plan for the patient to work on at home to bring the fear under control.
Supportive Care: Friends and family members who are afraid of animals should be treated with compassion and support and urged to get psychological help, rather than being dismissed or made fun of, as this can add to emotional distress and make the phobia worse.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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