Alektorophobia is the irrational fear of chickens. Someone suffering from this condition will find it extremely difficult and anxiety provoking to even think about chickens, let alone to actually be near them in real life. Once in the presence of a chicken, someone with alektorophobia will experience a very intrusive influx of unwanted anxiety that may be so intense that they may even experience a full blown panic attack because of it.
When in the presence of chickens, someone with alektorophobia will feel as though they are in grave danger. This may motivate them to make a conscious effort to avoid chickens at all costs. For instance, someone suffering from this condition may decide to live in a large city as opposed to a more rural area in an attempt to limit their chances of seeing or coming in contact with a chicken.
Though avoiding their fear of chickens may be a beneficial behavior to help alleviate their anxiety in the short term, it may not be very beneficial in the long term due to the fact that by avoiding their fear of chickens, they will also be reassuring to themselves that chickens are something that is worthy of being feared or avoided. Thus, worsening their alektorophobia over time.
There are many specific phobias that include being fearful of animals, such as the case with cynophobia (fear of dogs), ornithophobia (fear of birds), gatophobia (fear of cats), and equinophobia (fear of horses), to name a handful.
Symptoms of Alektorophobia
As is the case with virtually all other types of phobias, someone suffering from full blown alektorophobia can expect to experience an intense amount of anxiety when in the presence of chickens. As previously mentioned, their fear of chickens may be so extreme that they may even experience full blown panic attacks because of it. However, this will depend on many different factors, such as genetics and one’s environment.
They may also go to painstaking efforts to avoid their fear of chickens. For example, they may consciously decide to isolate themselves (depending on where they live) or they may avoid going to certain areas or places of business that may have chickens or depictions of chickens. Besides being very fearful of live chickens, it is not implausible for someone suffering from alektorophobia to also fear eating foods that contain chicken as well.
Avoiding that which they fear is a very common behavior that can be seen in people suffering from all sort of different phobias and anxiety disorders. This may not be surprising to most, but the unfortunate reality is that such behavior can be very counterproductive if done habitually.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of alektorophobia:
Intense anxiety when seeing a chicken
Anxiety when thinking of chickens
Actively avoiding chickens
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension, sweating, and shakiness
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Alektorophobia
There is no known cause of alektorophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing an irrational fear of chickens. This may be due to them then having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness in general.
If this were to be the case, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown alektorophobia. For example, someone with a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness who also endured some sort of traumatic event that included chickens in some capacity, such as getting attacked by a chicken or being injured by one in some way may be enough for them to develop alektorophobia.
Though we do not definitively know what causes any give mental illness to develop, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing alektorophobia.
Alektorophobia Treatments (abridged)
Exposure therapy may be very effective at treating someone who is suffering from alektorophobia. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to that which they fear over a given period of time. Though exposing the patient to their fear will inevitably give them an influx of unwanted anxiety, it should also help them to become desensitized to their fear in the long run as well.
In context to alektorophobia, someone suffering from this condition and getting treated with exposure therapy can expect their therapist to gradually expose them to chickens by first using photos or videos of chickens. Also, if possible, the therapist may eventually ask the patient to expose themselves to real chickens on their own time if it is practical and effective to do so.
Besides exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also be very effective at treating someone suffering from alektorophobia. It can help them to learn how to cope with their intense fear of chickens, as well as how to improve their cognition by changing the way they think about chickens. CBT is a very common form of treatment for people suffering from anxiety disorders in general.
Anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants may also be very beneficial for someone suffering from alektorophobia. However, merely taking medication alone without the use of any form of therapy may not be very effective in the long run as the patient will not have learned the many skills needed to improve the way they think about chickens, as well as learning the many coping mechanisms necessary for when and if they begin to panic. Nevertheless, this is something that should first be discussed with their doctor.
If you think you may have alektorophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon doing so, you may be referred to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Alektorophobia
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 alektorophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Alektorophobia
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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Alektorophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of alektorophobia.
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 alektorophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Meditation Techniques for Alektorophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from alektorophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia, 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 alektorophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Consuming Less Caffeine for Alektorophobia
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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Alektorophobia
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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia. 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 alektorophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Exposure Therapy for Alektorophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as alektorophobia. 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their alektorophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with alektorophobia 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.
Working Out for Alektorophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including alektorophobia. 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia, 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 alektorophobia over time.
Yoga Practice for Alektorophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from alektorophobia. 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia 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 alektorophobia.
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 alektorophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.