Amathophobia is the irrational fear of dust. Someone experiencing this mental illness may endure intense bouts of anxiety due to their condition and may even need to be hospitalized if such a debilitating panic attack were to ensue. Someone with amathophobia may find it extremely difficult to cope with their day to day life seeing as how dust can be found virtually everywhere. In fact, it may not be uncommon for someone suffering from this condition to also suffer from mysophobia (fear of germs) as well.
Someone with amathophobia may find that they spend most of their time throughout the day cleaning and dusting in an attempt to free themselves from the deep anxiety that plagues them daily. Though cleaning constantly may give them some momentary relief from their painstaking symptoms of anxiety and dread, doing so only makes their condition worse in the long run as they are then subconsciously reinforcing their irrational fear of dust by cleaning obsessively.
It also may not be uncommon for someone suffering from amathophobia to also suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder as well. This makes sense when we look at the obsessive nature that a fear of germs or of dust may instill within someone. For instance, someone with amathophobia may find that they spend a great deal of their time obsessing and ruminating over whether or not their home is clean or whether or not the environment they’re in is clean or not. So, these two illnesses may go hand in hand together in some cases.
Symptoms of Amathophobia
There are many symptoms of amathophobia that cause a great deal of distress and turmoil. For instance, such as the case with virtually every type of phobia, intense anxiety and even panic attacks may manifest as a result of their irrational fear of dust. They may also isolate themselves from the rest of society to a certain degree in an unsuccessful attempt to limit their anxiety and reduce the intensity of their condition.
Though it may seem like a good idea at first, isolating themselves from others may make them more lonely and could even ensue some symptoms of depression. Besides this, staying home and dusting all day will only make their amathophobia deeper and more frightening as they will spend a great deal of their time, effort, and emotions toward ridding their environment of dust. Such an endeavor can take quite a toll on someone psychologically.
It would also not be implausible to think that someone with amathophobia may also develop symptoms of other mental illnesses, such as OCD by obsessing about cleaning, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) due to their over-the-top anxious behavior, and even Munchausen Syndrome as they may “appear to be sick” from the accumulation of dust. However, this may not be typical and will vary from person to person.
Below, you will see some common symptoms of this phobia:
- Intense anxiety when around dust
- Anxiety when thinking of dust
- Cleaning things that are already clean
- Extreme impulse to clean things
- Inability to control strong emotions
- Isolating oneself
- Feelings of helplessness
Causes of Amathophobia
There is no known cause of amathophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. Someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher risk for developing amathophobia. This is especially the case for those with a family history of anxiety disorders and/or phobias. If this were to be the case and they also had a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full-blown amathophobia.
Such a traumatic event could be that they were very ill as a child growing up and the root cause of this was due to germs or dust. It is also plausible to think that someone may develop an intense fear of dust as a result of growing up in a very dusty and filthy home. Depending on the severity of the conditions, as well as the severity or degree of susceptibility the individual had with regards to developing mental illness in the first place, it may definitely be possible for someone to develop amathophobia on these grounds.
Other reasons as to why someone may develop amathophobia is that they may already be suffering from another mental illness such as OCD or GAD. If this were to be the case then their intense fear of dust may merely be an extension of their other fears. For instance, someone suffering from full-blown OCD may spend much of their day worrying about germs or being contaminated by germs. It may not take much coercion for them to be convinced that dust is another thing that they should be concerned about as well.
There are no treatment methods that are specifically designed to treat amathophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with this condition. Talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be very effective at reducing symptoms of amathophobia by getting the patient to think differently about their fears and to react to them in a much more productive way.
Another very common form of treatment for phobias like amathophobia is exposure therapy. This form of therapy works by having the therapist slowly and strategically expose the patient to that which they fear in an attempt to desensitize them from their fears. Theoretically, the more they are exposed to their fear, the less their fear will affect them. Essentially, they will get used to their fear and may even become comfortable around it. So, in the context of amathophobia, the therapist would expose the patient to dust in some capacity.
Psychiatric Medications for Amathophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe amathophobia 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of amathophobia.
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 amathophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Amathophobia
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 amathophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with amathophobia 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 amathophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Amathophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from amathophobia. 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia, 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 amathophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Amathophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as amathophobia. 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their amathophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with amathophobia 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 Amathophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from amathophobia. 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia.
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 amathophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Amathophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including amathophobia. 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia, 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 amathophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Amathophobia
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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Amathophobia
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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia. 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 amathophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Amathophobia
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 amathophobia 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 amathophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with amathophobia 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 amathophobia 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.