Hoplophobia is the irrational fear of firearms. Someone experiencing this mental disorder may endure very intense bouts of anxiety as a result of their fear. Their fear of guns may influence their opinions on society as well. For instance, people with this condition may blame guns as being the reason for why people commit murders and other atrocities, as opposed to blaming the psychological health of the individual.

Someone suffering from hoplophobia may be extremely fearful of guns and other explosive weapons and they may see them as good for nothing or innately harmful. Gun control is a hot-button issue among several different countries and the influences that hoplophobia may have on these convictions are not entirely clear.

Someone who is deeply disturbed by guns may also experience similar anxieties when watching a movie where people use guns or in a video game where you can shoot people. Even the sound of a gunshot may give them extreme amounts of anxiety. In very severe cases of hoplophobia, hospitalization may be necessary following a panic attack. Though such an occurrence will typically be seen in extreme cases only, it is still a plausible possibility that someone with hoplophobia could experience a full-blown panic attack.

It is not irrational to have distaste for guns or other types of explosive weapons for they have been used to commit many atrocities and genocides. However, to be extremely fearful of guns to the point to where the mere sight of one will make your heart rate increase and make your muscles tense up may be intimation of hoplophobia.



Symptoms of Hoplophobia

As is the case with all other phobias, anxiety will be at the forefront for someone suffering with hoplophobia. The mere sound of a gunshot on TV or using one on a video game may feel as though they are dealing with the real thing. Their anxiety may be out of touch with reality and they may make major decisions based on their intense fear of guns, such as solely voting for politicians who are anti-gun, as well as choosing to not associate with anyone who is pro-gun.

However, just because someone suffers from hoplophobia it does not mean that they are by default anti-gun. Hoplophobia is a mental illness and not a choice. So, someone who has a deep, irrational fear of guns can easily be either pro-gun or anti-gun.

Besides being extremely fearful of guns and blaming guns for most of the world’s problems, someone with hoplophobia may also be extremely judgmental and even hateful toward people who openly carry guns on them. Their fear of guns may also influence where they decide to live as well. Someone with hoplophobia may choose to live in a country or state where it is illegal to carry firearms.

Simply seeing someone else with a gun strapped to their belt may bring forth immense feelings of dread and terror, even if they see a member of the military or a police officer carrying a gun with them in public. So, people with this condition may choose to live in areas where guns are illegal or they may choose to live in more rural areas.

Causes of Hoplophobia

There are no known causes of hoplophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. Someone with a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias may have a higher chance of developing hoplophobia. This is due to their increased risk for being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness.

If this were in fact the case and someone was genetically predisposed to develop mental illness, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full-blown hoplophobia.

Such a traumatic experience that may make someone develop an intensely irrational fear of guns may be that they themselves were shot by a gun before or perhaps they know someone who was shot or killed by a firearm. Though firsthand experiences can significantly influence the way someone feels about guns, their distaste for them may be merely due to them taking an ethical stance against them.

However, for them to truly be diagnosed with hoplophobia, there would have to be some element of irrationality and long-term anxiety with it. As mentioned before, hoplophobia is not a choice or a stance against guns, it is a mental disorder where they are unable to think about guns or react to them in a rational manner.



Hoplophobia Treatments (abridged)

There are no treatments that are specifically designed for this mental disorder. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and medication may be able to help minimize the symptoms associated with this condition.

CBT may be very advantageous for someone suffering with hoplophobia as it can be a way for them to learn the many faults in their thinking patterns, as well as learning better ways that they can cope with their anxiety, especially when they experience full-blown panic attacks.

Besides CBT, exposure therapy may also be very beneficial for someone with an irrational fear of guns. Just as the name implies, this form of therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to that which they fear. In the context of hoplophobia, the therapist may show the patient a picture of someone holding a gun or she may have him watch a video containing guns. Essentially, the goal would be to try and desensitize them from their irrational fear of guns by having them be repetitively exposed to them in some capacity.

Anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety associated with hoplophobia, but merely taking it by itself may not be very effective for long-term care. This is due to the fact that the patient may need to learn how to change their behavior with skills taught by their therapist, something that medication alone cannot do.

If you feel as though you may have hoplophobia or that you have 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 treated.




Treatments (expanded)

Psychiatric Medications for Hoplophobia

Anti-anxiety meds

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

Antidepressants

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

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

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Hoplophobia

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

Meditation for Hoplophobia

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

Exposure Therapy for Hoplophobia

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

Yoga for Hoplophobia

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

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




Exercise for Hoplophobia

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

Caffeine Reduction for Hoplophobia

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 hoplophobia 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 hoplophobia.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Hoplophobia

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

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Hoplophobia

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 hoplophobia 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 hoplophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with hoplophobia 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 hoplophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.