Agrizoophobia is the fear of wild animals. Someone with this mental disorder may experience intense anxiety when in the presence of another wild animal. Regardless of if the potential danger that the wild animal may or may not ensue, someone with agrizoophobia will often react as if their life is in mortal danger, even if there is no apparent threat. They may realize that the scope of their fears are overly dramatized. However, their anxiety often supersedes their ability to think rationally.
Someone with agrizoophobia may find it virtually impossible to go to the a zoo or a public park due to the risk that they may come in contact with a wild animal. Their fear of wild animals may force them to remain confined in their home as they may feel it is the safest place to reside at as their is a minimal chance of coming in contact with a wild animal there.
Regardless of the size or actual danger of the wild animal, someone with agrizoophobia may react the same way regardless of the animal. For instance, they may react the same way to a raccoon as they would to a panther. Such an ineptness to effectively rationalize is one of the main causes of their intense dread and distress. They may feel as though the best way to “protect” themselves is to isolate themselves from the outside world. Such an action may lead them to also experience sadness and loneliness.
Though avoiding wild animals and staying indoors may give someone with agrizoophobia some immediate relief from their intense anxiety, doing so only reinforces their intense fears and makes it much more difficult for them to cope with their anxiety in the long-term. Essentially, doing this will only worsen their agrizoophobia.
Symptoms of Agrizoophobia
There are many different symptoms of agrizoophobia that can cause a great deal of discord in one’s life. Some of the more abysmal symptoms of this mental disorder are intense anxiety and dread at the sight of a wild animal, loneliness due to self-isolation efforts, and an inability to cope with strong emotions. In addition to these symptoms, someone with agrizoophobia may also feel a great deal of shame from their fear of wild animals.
The site of a wild animal may be so anxiety provoking that they may experience a full blown panic attack where they may need to be hospitalized. As with virtually all phobias, there is a spectrum of intensity meaning that some people will experience greater amounts of anxiety given the same stimuli. So, not everyone who suffers from agrizoophobia will experience anxiety to the point to where hospitalization would be necessary.
If someone with agrizoophobia is also experiencing other common anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), then their symptoms of this phobia may be immensely exacerbated. For example, someone suffering from OCD alongside agrizoophobia may spend a great deal of their time obsessing and ruminating over their fear of wild animals. Thus, rendering them inflicted with anxiety in nearly every moment of their lives.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of this phobia:
- Intense anxiety when near wild animals
- Anxiety at the thought of wild animals
- Feelings of dread when looking at a picture or video of wild animals
- Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
- Isolation and/or loneliness
- Shameful of their inability to cope with strong emotions
Causes of Agrizoophobia
There are no known causes of agrizoophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles in the development of this disorder. For instance, someone with a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias may have a greater chance of developing agrizoophobia then someone with no family history of mental illness. Someone having a genetic predisposition such as this may then only require that some sort of traumatizing event occur for them to develop full-blown agrizoophobia.
Such a traumatizing event may be that they were attacked by a wild animal once before and where severely injured or frightened. The injury could have been from a wild dog or perhaps something much more severe such as a shark attack. Essentially, everyone will react somewhat differently to a similar stimuli or to a similar perceived threat. This means that someone with agrizoophobia may react to a possum in the same way that someone else with agrizoophobia would react to a bed of rattlesnakes.
Another plausible reason as to why someone may develop this condition is that they may have already been suffering from an anxiety disorder beforehand. For instance, someone with GAD will more than likely already be a somewhat anxious person from moment to moment. It may merely then take some sort of outside experience to convince them that they should extend their fears to include wild animals.
There are no known treatments that are specifically designed to treat agrizoophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help significantly reduce the symptoms associated with this condition. Talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be very advantageous at treat agrizoophobia by getting the patient to think differently about their fears, as well as helping them learn new and effective coping skills for when their anxiety flares up.
Another very common form of treatment for people suffering from phobias is exposure therapy. In the context of agrizoophobia, the therapist would work with the patient by slowly exposing them to wild animals.
For practicality purposes, the therapist may have the patient look at pictures or videos of wild animals and may even bring in a very small and harmless animal into the session with them, though this will vary from therapist to therapist. Essentially, the goal would be for the patient to become desensitized from their fear of wild animals to the point to where they would no longer feel intense, irrational anxiety at the mere thought of one.
Psychiatric Medications for Agrizoophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe agrizoophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their agrizoophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as agrizoophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of agrizoophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of agrizoophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Agrizoophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from agrizoophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with agrizoophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of agrizoophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Agrizoophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from agrizoophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from agrizoophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with agrizoophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of agrizoophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with agrizoophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Agrizoophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as agrizoophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with agrizoophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with agrizoophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their agrizoophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with agrizoophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Yoga for Agrizoophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from agrizoophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with agrizoophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with agrizoophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with agrizoophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of agrizoophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Agrizoophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including agrizoophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of agrizoophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of agrizoophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with agrizoophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Agrizoophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with agrizoophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with agrizoophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Agrizoophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like agrizoophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with agrizoophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with agrizoophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with agrizoophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your agrizoophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Agrizoophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with agrizoophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with agrizoophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with agrizoophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with agrizoophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.