Dromophobia (Fear of Crossing Streets)
Dromophobia is the irrational fear of crossing streets. Someone with this condition may find it extremely difficult to even think about crossing streets, let alone actually following through with it. The statistics back up that there are many deaths caused by vehicular accidents with pedestrians. This fact may be a large reason as to why someone with dromophobia may feel as strongly as they do.
However, someone with this condition is likely to take things to an extreme that is not based in reality. In fact, in some extremely severe cases of dromophobia, they may even experience full blown panic attacks as a result of their intense fear of crossing streets. Their dromophobia may cause a great deal of strife in their lives and may greatly limit their ability to function healthily in society.
Someone with this condition may find it extremely difficult, to virtually impossible to actually cross a street. This may greatly impede on their ability to easily get to places they need to get to. Dromophobia may not be solely based on illegal jaywalking, but may also include crossing streets with the security of a designated walk lane as well.
These designated crosswalks are usually accompanied with a light letting pedestrians know it is safe to cross the street. When this light is on for pedestrians giving them the go-ahead to cross the street, vehicles are not permitted to cross due to them having a red light.
Regardless of the facts about road safety and road laws, someone with dromophobia may still find it to be extremely painful to walk across a street due to their fear that they may get hit by a moving vehicle. They may fear such an event even if there are no visible cars in sight.
Symptoms of Dromophobia
As is the case with virtually all other phobias, someone with dromophobia will likely experience very intense anxiety that will cause a great deal of distress in their lives. As previously mentioned, their anxiety may in fact be so intrusive and intense that they may even experience a full blown panic attack as a result of their fear of crossing the street. In some extreme cases, they may even require to be hospitalized after they experience a panic attack, though this will vary greatly from person to person.
They may find it very challenging to get to places they need to get to or to be on time for appointments. Someone with dromophobia may also make major life decisions as a result of their fear of crossing roads. For instance, they may choose to live in a more rural area as opposed to living in a very busy city where crossing the street will likely be inevitable.
Besides someone experiencing a great amount of fear, someone with dromophobia may also experience a very low self-esteem due to the fact that they may feel inept as they are unable to complete a task as simple as crossing a street.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of dromophobia:
Intense anxiety when crossing streets
Anxiety when thinking of crossing streets
Unable to cope with strong emotions
Shakiness, sweating, and increased heart rate
Causes of Dromophobia
There are no known causes of dromophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders may have a higher chance of developing dromophobia. This may be due to them having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness.
If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them truly develop full blown dromophobia. For instance, they may have crossed the street once before and were hit by a car or almost hit. Or perhaps they witnessed a vehicle fatally hit a pedestrian while they were crossing the street.
It is also important to be cognizant of the influence that the news has over people. It is plausible to conceive that someone may develop dromophobia due to them being permanently damaged by the many stories of vehicular homicides covered in the news on any given night insofar as they have the genetic makeup to do so of course.
Though we do not know the exact causes of dromophobia, there is a consensus among many mental health professionals that genetics and one’s environment both play very significant roles. This is also the case with virtually every other mental disorder.
Dromophobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no treatment methods that are specifically designed for dromophobia. Nevertheless, exposure therapy may actually be quite advantageous for someone suffering from an intense, irrational fear of crossing the street. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over time. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to their fear, the less it will bother them.
So, exposure therapy works by having the patient eventually becoming desensitized to their fear. With regards to dromophobia, the therapist may try to expose the patient to crossing streets by showing them pictures or videos of someone crossing the street. They may then have the patient cross a street on their own when the time is right. Regardless of how it is implemented, the techniques will be the same, and that is to slowly expose the patient more and more to crossing streets.
Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also be very beneficial at treating the symptoms associated with dromophobia as well. However, merely taking medication alone without therapy may not be a very good idea as you may need to learn the skills necessary to cope with your strong emotions, as well as improving your thinking patterns. This cannot be acquired by merely taking medication, but this is something that you will first want to discuss with your doctor.
If you think you may have dromophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms outlined 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 seeing her, she may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a therapist.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Dromophobia
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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with dromophobia 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 dromophobia 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 Dromophobia
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 dromophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with dromophobia 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 dromophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Dromophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from dromophobia. 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia, 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 dromophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Dromophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as dromophobia. 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their dromophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with dromophobia 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 Dromophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including dromophobia. 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia, 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 dromophobia over time.
Yoga for Dromophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from dromophobia. 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia.
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 dromophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Dromophobia
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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Dromophobia
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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia. 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 dromophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Dromophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe dromophobia 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 dromophobia 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 dromophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of dromophobia.
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 dromophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.