Cyclophobia (Fear of Bicycles)
Cyclophobia is the irrational fear of bicycles. Someone experiencing this disorder will have a very difficult time being near a bike, let alone actually riding one. In some extreme cases, their cyclophobia may be so extreme that they may even experience full blown panic attacks as a result of their irrational fear of bicycles. Such traumatic experiences may only deepen their intrinsic fear of bicycles in the long run.
Cyclophobia can be a very intrusive condition, especially if the person experiencing it lives in an area where bike riding is commonplace. In such an environment, someone suffering from full blown cyclophobia can expect to be quite anxious in their day to day life. This may lead them to avoid going to areas where bike riding is popular, such as to local parks or certain highways.
As is the case with virtually every other phobia, avoidance will be a very common behavior with someone suffering from cyclophobia. In an attempt to reduce the amount of anxiety they will experience in any given day, they may decide to stay inside their home for as long as they can in an attempt to limit their exposure to bicycles. Though doing so may give them some relief from their anxiety in the short term, it will likely worsen their cyclophobia in the long term.
Though someone with an irrational fear of bicycles may realize that their fear is illogical, when they are in the presence of a bicycle they will likely be unable to maintain such a rational disposition.
Symptoms of Cyclophobia
Anxiety will be the main symptom experienced with someone suffering from cyclophobia. As mentioned previously, their anxiety may be so intrusive and extreme that they may even endure full blown panic attacks as a result of it. Though this may be a rare occurrence due to the fact that people with cyclophobia will likely try to avoid bicycles as best they can, panic attacks are still par for the course when dealing with anxiety disorders.
Someone with cyclophobia may decide to move to a more rural area where bike riding is less common in an attempt to reduce the amount of bikes they see. Though doing so may help them to reduce some of their anxiety in the short term, it will likely do more damage in the long term as they will then be reassuring themselves that bicycles are something that is worthy of being feared.
If someone were to isolate themselves from other people in an attempt to limit their potential exposure to bicycles, then such isolation may open the door to other mental illnesses to develop insofar as they have the genetics to do so. For example, it is plausible for someone with cyclophobia to eventually develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression due to their fixation of bicycles and isolation from others.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of cyclophobia:
Anxiety when thinking of bicycles
Anxiety when seeing a bicycle
Unable to cope with their fear
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Cyclophobia
There are no known causes for someone to develop cyclophobia. However, factors such as genetics and one’s environment are likely to play very significant roles. For example, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially of specific phobias or other anxiety disorders may have a higher chance of developing cyclophobia. This may be due to them then having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general.
If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown cyclophobia. For example, someone may develop an irrational fear of bicycles due to them once experiencing a vehicular accident with a bike or seeing someone get harmed on a bicycle. Such an experience may be very traumatic for someone who has a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, especially anxiety disorders.
Though we do not know the exact cause of cyclophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at both of these different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing full blown cyclophobia.
Cyclophobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no treatments specifically designed for cyclophobia. However, exposure therapy may prove to be very advantageous for treating this condition. Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for people suffering from phobias. Just as the name implies, this form of treatment works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over a given period of time. Though doing so will give the patient a high amount of anxiety, it should also help them to become desensitized from their fear as well.
Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to something they fear, the less it will bother them over time. So, the therapist may start off their therapy sessions by having the patient look at photos or videos of bicycles. Then, as their condition improves, they may become exposed to an actual bike by looking at it, and even touching it. This gradual exposure should help the patient to become desensitized to their fear of bicycles.
Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also help reduce some of the symptoms of cyclophobia as well. This can be especially beneficial during an influx of anxiety, such as when experiencing a panic attack. Such medications are typically taken as needed for anxiety, but this will vary. Nevertheless, you should always talk to your doctor first before you decide to take any medication to ensure its safety and effectiveness.
If you think you may have cyclophobia 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 psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment.
Reducing Caffeine for Cyclophobia
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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Cyclophobia
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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia. 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 cyclophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Meditation for Cyclophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from cyclophobia. 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia, 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 cyclophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Cyclophobia
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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Cyclophobia
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 cyclophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Exposure Therapy for Cyclophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as cyclophobia. 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their cyclophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with cyclophobia 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.
Exercise for Cyclophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including cyclophobia. 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia, 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 cyclophobia over time.
Medication Therapy for Cyclophobia
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 cyclophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of cyclophobia.
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 cyclophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia 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.
Yoga for Cyclophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from cyclophobia. 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia 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 cyclophobia.
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 cyclophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.