The term Ornithophobia is of Greek origin, used to refer to a psychological syndrome in which the sufferer has an intense and irrational fear of birds. Different from the usual fear, this syndrome needs to be treated early to prevent complications to health and life.
What is Ornithophobia?
Ornithophobia is a term that refers to an extreme, intense and irrational fear of birds. Basically, birds are almost harmless animals and rarely cause fear to humans. However, some people may be overly fearful of this animal due to a negative past experience.
The fear of birds is one of the types of anxiety disorders. This syndrome has the same mechanism and manifestations as other phobia syndromes such as fear of chickens, fear of clowns, fear of heights, fear of the sea, etc. However, Ornithophobia has not been recognized as a syndrome. official psychological evidence in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Birds are animals close to humans, so patients will often encounter them. Upon seeing birds or hearing birdsong, patients can become extremely frightened, panicking, and terrified. If left untreated, claustrophobia can seriously affect health and other aspects of life.
Subjects at risk of bird phobia
Normally, people only form fear with potentially dangerous objects/situations. Very few people have an overwhelming obsession with birds. According to the survey, this syndrome is common in the following subjects:
- Family history of agoraphobia, fear of chickens, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or other phobias
- Have experienced negative bird-related events such as bird attack, bird infection
- People with a pessimistic, anxious and negative personality
Causes of fear of birds (Ornithophobia)
Acrophobia can occur at any age but is more common in children. Experts find that this syndrome is often associated with the following factors:
- Negative experiences: Experiencing related negative events about birds such as being infected by contact with birds or being attacked by birds, etc. will increase the risk of acrophobia. This fear was developed to help the body recognize the potential danger posed by birds. Therefore, during panic attacks, the patient always wants to get out of the current situation as soon as possible due to fear of being attacked or experiencing a disaster involving this animal.
- Family influences: Children may develop an overwhelming fear of birds by learning from family members’ reactions. For example, when parents and siblings are overly frightened by the sight of birds, children will “unconsciously” remember this reaction and form the same fear. This is also the reason that phobias are familial, whether they are related by blood or not.
- There are other psychological problems: Ornithophobia can be related to other syndromes such as fear of cats, fear of ducks, fear of animals, etc. In addition, people with depression and anxiety disorders are also at high risk. suffers from this syndrome due to personality anxiety, stress and pessimism.
Recognizing the fear of birds
Acrophobia is characterized by an irrational, abnormal, and uncontrollable fear of birds. Most people with this syndrome are aware that their fears are irrational but cannot control them despite their best efforts. This is the difference between a phobia and a normal feeling of fear.
Signs of bird fear syndrome:
- There is always a feeling of fear, anxiety and tension when thinking about birds.
- Realizing that your fear is irrational but cannot be controlled and controlled.
- When they hear birds singing or see birds, patients become scared, panic, dizzy, have headaches, dry mouth, tremors, increased heart rate, panic, and even fainting.
- When faced with birds, some people have a feeling of impending disaster and fear of being attacked by birds, fear of death, fear of losing control, and fear of memory loss.
- Fear and insecurity about birds must last for at least 6 months
- Fear is excessive for the potential danger, such as extreme fear, panic, and fainting even when hearing birds chirping or seeing small, harmless birds. If the feeling of fear only occurs when seeing large, ferocious birds such as eagles, it is not considered to be ornithophobia.
- Have avoidant behaviors such as not mentioning birds in the conversation, not looking at pictures and books about this animal and minimizing going out to the street, to the park, to the zoo to avoid seeing or hear the birds chirping
- Excessive fear of birds interferes with many activities in life such as living, playing, working and studying
What is the effect of the fear of birds (Ornithophobia)?
Both phobias and anxiety disorders have significant effects on quality of life. The fear of birds causes many people to limit going out and not dare to go to spaces such as zoos, resorts, parks, etc. These avoidance behaviors make it impossible for patients to enjoy life comfortably. .
In addition, the patient rarely opens the window for fear that birds will fly into the house and hear the birds singing. Constantly having to avoid this animal leaves the patient in a state of high stress, insecurity, fear and fatigue. Negative mood makes the patient easily stressed and irritable, angry with people.
Similar to other phobias, untreated ornithophobia can lead to increased psychological problems such as depression, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and anxiety disorders. obsessive compulsion. At the same time increase the rate of alcoholism, smoking and drug use.
Prolonged stress can increase the hormones cortisol and adrenaline continuously over a long period of time. This condition increases physical problems such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, headaches, migraines, vestibular disorders, etc. Increased hormones cortisol and adrenaline have also been linked to menstrual disorders, decrease in sexual function in men/women and trigger diseases with a flare-up of allergic mechanisms.
How is birdphobia diagnosed?
Because it has not been officially recognized as a psychological disorder, there are no diagnostic criteria for agoraphobia. Doctors will use the general criteria of phobic anxiety disorder to make a general diagnosis. Basically, these diseases have the same mechanism and manifestations. Therefore, the process of diagnosis and treatment is often similar.
The fear of birds is usually diagnosed based on the following symptoms:
- Feelings of fear and panic erupt when seeing and hearing birds singing
- Fears and feelings of stress and insecurity lasting at least 6 months
- Fear of birds must be severe enough to have an effect on living habits, work and school performance.
- Unreasonable fear of birds significantly reduces the patient’s quality of life
In addition, the doctor may order blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels, urine tests to detect drugs. CT and MRI of the brain may also be done to rule out other possibilities.
Methods of treating fear of birds
Most people with ornithophobia respond well to treatment. Currently, psychotherapy is the most effective method in the treatment of this syndrome. With early intervention, patients almost do not have to use drugs.
Methods applied in the treatment of agoraphobia:
Psychotherapy is considered the golden solution in the treatment of psychological and psychiatric problems. This method is implemented in the form of verbal and non-verbal communication. Through communication, the specialist will directly influence the patient’s psychology, thereby reducing the symptoms caused by the fear of birds.
Psychotherapy is effective in the treatment of fear of birds (Ornithophobia):
- Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is performed in cases where acrophobia develops from past negative experiences. Through a state of “suggestion” induced by hypnosis, the specialist can understand the source of the fear and help the patient overcome the trauma. In addition, hypnotherapy is also used along with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to make patients more open to changing negative thoughts.
- Exposure therapy (exposure): Exposure therapy is used in most cases of anxiety disorders. For claustrophobia, professionals help patients adapt and learn to cope with fear in situations such as hearing birds singing, seeing pictures and video clips of birds. The ultimate goal of exposure therapy is to help patients normalize their response to bird sightings in real life.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be considered for patients with agoraphobia. The goal of this method is to help patients change negative thoughts related to birds such as fear of being attacked by birds, fear of contracting diseases from birds, etc. By changing inappropriate thoughts, feelings of fear Fear and avoidance behavior from birds will be significantly improved.
2. Drug use
Most cases of early intervention do not require the use of drugs. In contrast, cases of delay in diagnosis and treatment can combine drug therapy with psychotherapy. The drug is considered for use in patients with extreme anxiety, stress, insomnia, depression and panic during therapy.
Medications that may be used for patients with a fear of birds (Ornithophobia) include:
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants are used to enhance emotions and reduce anxiety and distress associated with agoraphobia. This class of drugs has relatively few side effects compared to other psychotropic drugs.
- However, anti-depressants work quite slowly (usually from 6 to 8 weeks of use).
- Sedatives, anxiolytics: Sedatives and anxiolytics are often used short-term while waiting for antidepressants to take effect. Medications can relieve anxiety, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve related sleep problems.
- However, this group of drugs has the potential to be addictive, so you must strictly follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers are used to relieve physical symptoms associated with agoraphobia such as heart palpitations, high blood pressure, headaches, etc. However, this class of drugs directly affects the heart. circuit should have some potential risks. Therefore, the doctor will consider carefully before using.
3. Relaxation Techniques
Ornithophobia causes prolonged stress, fear, and insecurity. This condition increases many physical and psychological health problems. Therefore, in addition to focusing on eliminating irrational fear, the specialist will also teach the patient relaxation techniques.
Relaxation measures significantly reduce feelings of fear and anxiety and stress. It also aids in improving sleep and managing related physical symptoms. Combining these measures will help improve the effectiveness of the treatment process and limit the overuse of drugs.
Relaxation measures for patients with agoraphobia:
- Exercise relaxation therapy
- Acupressure massage
- Heat therapy (hot compress, warm bath)
In addition to relaxation measures, patients should maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay away from stimulants, tobacco and alcohol to avoid increasing stress and anxiety levels.
Ornithophobia is not a rare condition, so patients do not need to worry too much. Face it with courage and perseverance during treatment that will help you overcome irrational fears. From there, be comfortable in life and do not have to hide from this harmless animal.