Dextrophobia is the irrational fear of having objects at the right side of the body. Someone experiencing this condition may endure extremely intrusive bouts of anxiety as a result of their mental illness. Their near compulsive behavior is reminiscent of that of someone with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as they may become obsessed with their “inability” to have objects to the right of them.
Something this irrational that is not based in any reason whatsoever sounds like many of the types of obsessions and compulsions that are associated with OCD. So, it may not be uncommon for someone suffering from dextrophobia to also suffer from full blown OCD as well. However, this does not mean that these disorders will always coincide together.
Someone experiencing dextrophobia may carry out bizarre compulsions to ensure that there are no objects, or at least no “significant” objects that reside to the right of their body. This may mean that if someone with dextrophobia were sitting on their couch, they would have to ensure that all of the pillows on the couch were on their left side, as well as the remote control and any other miscellaneous objects.
If there are objects that are to the right side of someone with dextrophobia and they do not take any action, then they may experience an extremely intense amount of anxiety and may be able to focus their attention on anything else, but the objects to the right of them.
Symptoms of Dextrophobia
The main symptom that someone with dextrophobia can expect to experience is intense anxiety. By merely having objects reside to the right of them can bring forth anxiety so intrusive and intense that they may even have a full blown panic attack. If such an occurrence were to take place, then they may even require hospitalization. However, such severe symptoms will very from person to person.
Someone with dextrophobia may find it quite difficult to cope with day to day life as they may be overly concerned with the position of over other objects in relation to their own body. As you could imagine, this could become a very debilitating issue if they were to go into a store or if they were to walk at a park for instance. So, depending on the severity of their symptoms, they may spend a great deal of their time in their own home to ensure that they have more control over their dextrophobia.
Though isolating themselves may seem like a good idea in the short term as they can surely expect to experience a decrease in anxiety due to them rearranging their home to ensure that virtually nothing resides to the right of their body, this may not be the case in the long term. Taking such precautions may in fact exacerbate their dextrophobia due to the fact that they are subconsciously reassuring their fear to themselves. Thus, making it appear more real and frightening.
Causes of Dextrophobia
There are no known causes of dextrophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. For instance, someone with a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias may have a increased chance for developing dextrophobia as opposed to someone who doesn’t have a family history of mental illness. If someone does have such a history, then they may have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness.
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 dextrophobia. Such a traumatic experience may be that they were in a car accident where they were hit on their right side or something analogous. It is also plausible to conceive that someone may develop dextrophobia as a result of having OCD beforehand.
This is a very plausible scenario as OCD is characterized by obsessions and compulsions that are often quite bizarre and out of touch with reality. For instance, some people with OCD may believe that if they don’t brush their teeth for exactly 7 mins and 30 seconds, then they may not get that raise they’ve been hoping for at their job.
It is blatantly irrational obsessions such as these that cause extreme waves of anxiety in someone with OCD, and as far as we know the same may be true for people suffering with dextrophobia. However, as is the case with all phobias, the exact causes of them are not entirely understood.
Dextrophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no known treatment method for dextrophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with this mental disorder. Talk therapy may be very advantageous for someone experiencing an irrational fear of objects at the right side of the body.
More specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a very common treatment for people suffering with OCD, may be very advantageous for someone with dextrophobia.
Another very beneficial form of treatment for people suffering from phobias is exposure therapy. Exposure therapy may be highly effective at helping someone with dextrophobia as they can have their therapist slowly expose them to having objects reside at the right side of them.
Though this may give the patient an immense amount of anxiety at first, the goal is to eventually desensitize them from their fear by slowly exposing them to it over time. Exposure therapy may also be beneficial for people suffering with certain forms of OCD as well.
Anti-anxiety medication may be able to help with reducing the anxiety symptoms of dextrophobia, but it may not be very effective for long term use as they patient may need to learn how to improve their cognition by practicing skills learned in therapy. However, this will vary from person to person.
If you think you may have dextrophobia or if you are experiencing some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can get properly treated.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Dextrophobia
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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia. 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 dextrophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Yoga for Dextrophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from dextrophobia. 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia.
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 dextrophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Dextrophobia
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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia 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 Dextrophobia
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 dextrophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Exposure Therapy for Dextrophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as dextrophobia. 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their dextrophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with dextrophobia 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.
Reducing Caffeine for Dextrophobia
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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia.
Psychiatric Drugs for Dextrophobia
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 dextrophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of dextrophobia.
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 dextrophobia, 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia 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.
Exercise for Dextrophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including dextrophobia. 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia, 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 dextrophobia over time.
Meditation for Dextrophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from dextrophobia. 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia 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 dextrophobia, 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 dextrophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.