Eisoptrophobia is the irrational fear of mirrors. Someone experiencing this mental illness may endure extreme amounts of anxiety that is out of touch with reality. In some instances they may in fact realize that being afraid of mirrors is not a rational stance to take. Nevertheless, in the midst of a full blown panic attack, they will likely not be able to think coherently enough to rationalize their way out of their intense fear.
Someone suffering from eisoptrophobia may not have any mirrors in their home and may find it extremely difficult to drive in a vehicle given the fact that they contain several mirrors in them for safety reasons. Though the intensity and specifics of their symptoms will vary from person to person, someone with eisoptrophobia will undoubtedly experience intense bouts of anxiety due to their irrational concern of mirrors.
The specific reasons as to why they are so opposed to mirrors may be due to countless different reasons, such as them having deep insecurities and a very poor self-image or their reasons may be less about their physical appearance and more about individual superstitious beliefs.
In some extreme cases, someone experiencing eisoptrophobia may experience anxiety that is so intrusive and intense that they will have to be hospitalized. Experiencing panic attacks such as these will vary from person to person and are most likely due to many different factors such as genetics and environment.
Symptoms of Eisoptrophobia
There are many different symptoms of eisoptrophobia that can bring forth a great deal of discord and turmoil in one’s life. As is the case with all phobias, they can expect to experience very unpleasant bouts of anxiety due to their irrational fear of mirrors.
They may find it difficult to go out in certain public places due to their intense fear that they may see a mirror in some capacity. Depending on the intensity of their condition, as well as their personality traits, they may resort to isolating themselves to limit the chances of them seeing mirrors.
Simply the act of thinking of a mirror may bring forth intense bouts of anxiety within them. Someone with eisoptrophobia may feel as though the best thing they can do to reduce their anxiety is to avoid the thing that triggers their anxiety in the first place. So, this may result in them removing mirrors from their home and from their car. Though doing so will give them momentary relief from their intrusive worries, it will only deepen their fears and worsen their eisoptrophobia in the long term.
Someone with eisoptrophobia may also find that they struggle with being able to successfully cope with their intense emotions. If they are not participating in any sort of behavioral therapy, then their ineptness to reduce the intensity of their anxiety may inadvertently exacerbate their anxiety.
Below, you will see some common symptoms of this phobia:
- Intense anxiety when around mirrors
- Anxiety when thinking of mirrors
- Unable to control intense emotions
- Avoiding mirrors and anything reflective
- Unable to rationalize their fear
- Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
Causes of Eisoptrophobia
There are no known causes of eisoptrophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. Someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders and phobias may have a higher chance of developing eisoptrophobia.
This is due to their increased chance of having a genetic predisposition for developing mental illness. However, merely having a family history of mental illness is not enough to guarantee that someone will be genetically predisposed to develop mental illness. It is more complicated than this.
Besides genetics, someone’s environment is another pertinent factor to take into consideration when looking at the potential causes for someone developing eisoptrophobia. For instance, someone experiencing a traumatic event of some sort may be enough for them to develop eisoptrophobia insofar as they have the genetics to do so.
Such a traumatic experience may be that they were terribly frightened by mirrors as a child or that they were traumatized by a scary movie that portrayed mirrors as something to be feared. Also, it may not be uncommon for someone who has eisoptrophobia to also suffer from sanguivoriphobia (fear of vampires) due to the folklore that vampires have no reflection when looking in a mirror.
Other plausible causes of eisoptrophobia are that perhaps they where already suffering from an anxiety disorder beforehand such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). If this were to be the case, then it may not take much for them to concentrate their fears toward a specific area, such as mirrors.
There are no known forms of treatment that are specifically designed for eisoptrophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to significantly reduce the symptoms associated with this mental illness.
Talk therapy may be very advantageous as it can help the patient to have a better perspective of their fear, as well as having them learn many new coping skills that they can use to help them when their anxiety flares up due to their eisoptrophobia.
Exposure therapy is another very beneficial form of treatment as well. In fact, exposure therapy is among one of the most common forms of therapy for people suffering from phobias. In the context of eisoptrophobia, the therapist would work with the patient by slowly exposing them to mirrors for short intervals over a long period of time.
The whole goal with exposure therapy is to try and desensitize the patient from their fear by repetitively exposing them to their fear. Theoretically, the more they are introduced to their fear, the more comfortable they will get with it.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be able to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety that are associated with eisoptrophobia. However, taking medication alone may not be enough to truly treat all of the symptoms of eisoptrophobia, as you will also need to learn how to improve your cognition so that you can experience long-term benefits.
If you think you have eisoptrophobia 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 diagnosed and treated. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend that you see a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist or a therapist.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Eisoptrophobia
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 eisoptrophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Eisoptrophobia
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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Eisoptrophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of eisoptrophobia.
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 eisoptrophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Meditation Techniques for Eisoptrophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from eisoptrophobia. 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia, 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 eisoptrophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Consuming Less Caffeine for Eisoptrophobia
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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Eisoptrophobia
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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia. 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 eisoptrophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Exposure Therapy for Eisoptrophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as eisoptrophobia. 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their eisoptrophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with eisoptrophobia 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.
Working Out for Eisoptrophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including eisoptrophobia. 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia, 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 eisoptrophobia over time.
Yoga Practice for Eisoptrophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from eisoptrophobia. 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia 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 eisoptrophobia.
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 eisoptrophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.