Ecclesiophobia is the irrational fear of Churches. There are many reasons as to why someone may be fearful or angry toward certain churches. Holy wars, genocides, and the barbaric torturing of infidels may lead some people to fear organized religion and deem it to be the cause of the vast amount of human suffering humanity has experienced. For those who believe this to be the case, they may see churches as being the center point of all of these tragedies.

There are currently around 4,000 religions that people practice in this present time. If we were to look at the entirety of human history, this number would surely be in the 5 digit mark, and perhaps even in the 6 digits. Regardless of what the popular belief may be, people who experience ecclesiophobia are not all atheists. In fact, much of the quarrels that many religions face in this present day are the result of one religious sect being fearful or disapproving of another religious sect.

Nevertheless, people with full-blown ecclesiophobia may find it extremely difficult to pass by a church in the streets, to see a picture of one, or to even think about one. Doing so will typically give the individual a lot of unwanted anxiety and stress.

Their ecclesiophobia may be so severe that they may alter their route around town to ensure that they are nowhere near the sight of any church. They may also choose to live in an area where there are virtually no churches, if any. People with such convictions may or may not be religious. The reason for such convictions tends to be quite complex.

Symptoms of Ecclesiophobia

Someone with ecclesiophobia may be extremely fearful of organized religion and they may even see it as a terrible thing. These convictions will often leave the individual feeling very anxious, especially when near or inside of a church. Depending on the severity of their ecclesiophobia, they may actively pursue abolishing organized religion in general.

However, most people who suffer from ecclesiophobia will more than likely experience avoidance. Avoiding that which they fear is one of the most common symptoms of any type of phobia. So, someone suffering from ecclesiophobia may make a conscious decision to avoid seeing churches to the best of their ability. This may mean inconveniencing themselves so that they won’t have to drive past or walk past a church, thus taking a longer route to get to their destination.

Below, you will see some of the most common symptoms of ecclesiophobia:

  • Irrationally fearful of churches
  • Purposely avoid looking at churches
  • May develop hatred for organized religion
  • May think churches are evil
  • Fearful of the design/shapes of churches

Causes of Ecclesiophobia

There is no known cause of ecclesiophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles in the development of this condition. Someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially anxiety disorders and/or phobias may have an increased chance of developing ecclesiophobia. This may be due to them having a heightened genetic predisposition for developing mental illness. Nevertheless, the specificity of this disorder may lead one to think that the “proper environment” is also a key factor for its development.

People who have ecclesiophobia may have a tidbit of logic in their reasons. However, their overbearing fear of churches in general is often out of touch with reality and is very irrational. It is possible that there fear of churches may have developed in early childhood from a traumatizing event of some sort.

Nevertheless, even though that the exact causes of ecclesiophobia are not known, there is a consensus among many doctors and therapists that genetics and one’s environment are very significant factors for someone developing any sort of anxiety disorder. This also allows doctors and therapists to properly treat people who may suffer from ecclesiophobia.

Ecclesiophobia Treatments (abridged)

There are no specific treatments for ecclesiophobia. Nevertheless, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and even anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with this mental illness. However, it is in your best interest to talk to your doctor first so that you can discuss all of your symptoms and concerns with her. Also, doing so may help to ensure that you receive the appropriate form of treatment, as there are several kinds of methods for treating mental disorders.

Talk therapy may be a very helpful method for treating your symptoms as it can be a way for you to discuss with your therapist much more productive ways to cope with the intrusive panic attacks from your ecclesiophobia.

Upon learning several coping skills, you will also work with your therapist to try and uncover the underlying reason(s) as to why you are so fearful of churches in the first place. Uncovering such convictions may make it much easier to treat the specific symptoms associated with your ecclesiophobia.

Besides talk therapy, exposure therapy may be extremely advantageous at helping to treat ecclesiophobia as well. In the context of this disorder, exposure therapy would work by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to churches. She may go about exposing the patient a little more each week depending on the amount of progress the patient portrays. The goal with exposure therapy would be to ultimately reduce your symptoms as much as possible when in the presence of a church.

Anti-anxiety medication may be able to help minimize the symptoms of ecclesiophobia as well. However, if you do decide to take medication for your symptoms, then it may be in your best interest that you do so only as a means to help supplement your efforts. However, this should be something you should first discuss with your doctor.

Remember, you should first talk to your doctor before you decide to undergo any type of treatment or take any medication. If you think you may have ecclesiophobia, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can either be treated by him or be sent to a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Treatments (expanded)

Reducing Caffeine for Ecclesiophobia

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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Ecclesiophobia

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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia. 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 ecclesiophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.

Meditation for Ecclesiophobia

There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from ecclesiophobia. 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia, 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 ecclesiophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Ecclesiophobia

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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia 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 Ecclesiophobia

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 ecclesiophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.

Exposure Therapy for Ecclesiophobia

As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as ecclesiophobia. 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their ecclesiophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with ecclesiophobia 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 Ecclesiophobia

Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including ecclesiophobia. 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia, 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 ecclesiophobia over time.

Medication Therapy for Ecclesiophobia

Antidepressant drugs

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 ecclesiophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of ecclesiophobia.

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 ecclesiophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.

Anti-anxiety drugs

These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia 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 Ecclesiophobia

There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from ecclesiophobia. 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia 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 ecclesiophobia.

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 ecclesiophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.