Phobia: What really helps with fear of spiders

Phobia: What really helps with fear of spiders

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What helps against spider phobia

Anxiety disorders, in which people fear certain animals, are widespread. In this country, fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias. With the right methods, however, those affected can often get their spider phobia under control.

Widespread fear of spiders Many people are afraid of circumstances such as dizzying heights or flying. Anxiety disorders, in which those affected fear certain animals, are also widespread. The fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias in Germany. Affected people sometimes don't even have to meet a living specimen with hairy legs and a thick body, just looking at photos can be enough to relieve physical symptoms such as trembling hands and legs, a dry mouth, sweating or disgust that can be associated with nausea and vomiting to trigger. Some spider phobics often complain of a lump in the throat, dizziness or even racing heart when they meet the little animals.

Fear of "the movement pattern of animals" As Christa Roth-Sackenheim, chairwoman of the professional association of German neurologists (BVDN) and specialist in psychotherapy from Andernach told the dpa news agency, phobias are most common in animals that least resemble the human silhouette. But even if this is the case with spiders, Holger Kirk cannot explain the extreme reactions. The Hamburg, who gives seminars in which people overcome their spider phobia, said the agency: "It is clear that phobics are not afraid of a spider bite, but of the movement pattern of the animals". The causes of phobia are varied. "Basically, fear is an emotionally important emotion that protects against taking risks," says Roth-Sackenheim. Phobias are a "misregulation of healthy anxiety".

Exchanging experiences in self-help groups Basically, every form of directed fear is called phobia. "It is pathological when it limits the quality of life," explained Roth-Sackenheim. Kirk added that animal phobia is more than just dislike. Fear of fear is another hallmark. In this way, people who have a phobia avoid situations in which it can be triggered. Avoiding it only makes the phobia stronger. Those affected have various options for getting their fear under control. For many, self-help groups are helpful to exchange experiences. If the fear is extreme and is accompanied by problems such as a massive heartbeat, sweating or hours of restlessness, you should do behavioral therapy, as Roth-Sackenheim recommends: "Here you learn to relieve fear."

Different therapy options Treatments are often about confrontation. "The recipe is simple: lead yourself into the anxiety-causing situation, guided by a helper, until you are no longer afraid," Kirk explained. "And after that you are free." However, the length of time for which you are exposed to the situation is crucial. "Phobics don't expect their fear to decrease," Kirk said. Of course, this happens because the body cannot remain at a high level of fear for many hours. "At some point we will calm down." At the same time, Kirk emphasized that these treatments must be carried out with great sensitivity. "Shock therapy is to be rejected." In his seminars, the participants determine how quickly they proceed in the confrontation. He said: "Especially for spider phobia: It is terrible at first, but it can usually be overcome in a two to four-hour seminar." If the fears are so pronounced that those affected can no longer make it out of the house, drugs can help. "In the first place, they enable people to be able to see a therapist," says Roth-Sackenheim. In addition to psychotherapeutic procedures, deep psychological procedures, behavioral therapies or therapies with hypnosis have also proven their worth in the treatment of phobias. (ad)

Image: Gerhard Eichstetter /

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