Megalophobia (Fear of Large Things)
Megalophobia is the irrational fear of large things. This can include large airplanes, large ships, large buildings, and virtually any other arbitrary object someone perceives to be large. Their fear of large things will cause them a great amount of anxiety. Due to the fact that what one person deems to be large someone else may not, there is a lot of nuance with regards to trying to pinpoint specifically what it is that people with megalophobia fear.
Nevertheless, people with megalophobia will still experience dread whenever they are around what they perceive to be a large object. For some people, skyscrapers may make them excruciatingly anxious, while others may only be fearful of large people. The extent to what someone with megalophobia can be fearful of is limited only to the imagination.
In some extreme cases, someone suffering with megalophobia may experience full blown panic attacks as a result of the terror they will inevitably endure when they are around large things. In such a situation, they can expect to experience an increased heart rate, an increased rate of breathing, muscle tension, shakiness, and excessive perspiration, among other things. Also, depending on the severity of their panic attack they may even need to be hospitalized.
People experiencing megalophobia may make conscious efforts to isolate themselves from certain areas (e.g. airports, docks, etc.) so they can avoid seeing large things (e.g. planes, ships, etc.).
However, even though they may feel as though avoiding their fear will give them some relief from their anxiety, which it surely will to a certain extent, doing so may also help to strengthen their megalophobia due to the fact that by avoiding large things they are also reassuring to themselves that large things are something that is worthy of being feared and avoided.
Symptoms of Megalophobia
As is the case with virtually all other phobias, anxiety will be the main symptom one can expect to experience with megalophobia, and as previously mentioned, panic attacks may also be a common occurrence. The painstaking amount of fear that someone with megalophobia can expect to endure will come at an unfortunate cost as they may isolate themselves from seeing or being near large objects. This can become an insidious behavior for reasons mentioned in the foregoing paragraph.
It may also not be uncommon for someone with magalophobia to develop other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) insofar as they have the genetic makeup to allow these conditions to develop. In addition to this, if they were to isolate themselves more and more from going outside and from being exposed to other people, then they may also increase their risk for experiencing loneliness and other symptoms of depression.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of megalophobia:
Anxiety when around large things
Anxiety when thinking of large things
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Megalophobia
There are no known causes of megalophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles. For instance, if someone has a family history of mental illness they may have a higher risk for developing megalophobia as opposed to someone who doesn’t have such a family history. In a case were someone does have a family history of mental illness, they may also have a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental disorders in general.
So, if someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only call for them to experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown megalophobia. For example, a young child seeing a monster truck for the first time may become overwhelmingly anxious to the point to where they are terrified, especially given the loud exhaust systems on most monster trucks. There are virtually countless different examples of where someone can be terrified by a large object, react irrationally toward it, and eventually develop megalophobia because of it.
Though we do not know the definitive cause of megalophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles in the development of any given mental illness. So, taking a closer look at your family history, as well as your environment may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing megalophobia.
Megalophobia Treatments (abridged)
Just as there are no exact causes of megalophobia, there are also no forms of treatment that are specifically designed to treat an irrational fear of large things. However, there are still several forms of treatment that can be very beneficial for someone suffering with this condition. For example, one of the main forms of treatment for individuals suffering from phobias is exposure therapy. This form of treatment works by having the therapist gradually expose the patient to that which they fear over a given period of time.
So, someone suffering from full blown megalophobia may get treated for their symptoms with exposure therapy by having the therapist show them pictures or videos of something that is very large. Though this may not seem like much exposure, even mustering up the thought of large things in the mind of someone with megalophobia will likely give them a jolt of unwanted anxiety.
The goal with exposure therapy is to try and desensitize the patient from their fear of large objects by repetitively exposing them to it. Over time, as the patient improves their condition, the therapist may have the patient go on their own to observe large objects they are fearful of insofar as they are ready to handle that degree of exposure.
Besides exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also be an effective form of treatment, as well as psychiatric medications. Be that as it may, you should always talk to your doctor first before you take any medication to ensure that it is safe and effective to do so. With that being said, if you think you may have megalophobia or if you are suffering from 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 diagnosed and treated.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Megalophobia
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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia. 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 megalophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Yoga for Megalophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from megalophobia. 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia.
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 megalophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Megalophobia
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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with megalophobia 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 megalophobia 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 Megalophobia
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 megalophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with megalophobia 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 megalophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Exposure Therapy for Megalophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as megalophobia. 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their megalophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with megalophobia 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 Megalophobia
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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia.
Psychiatric Drugs for Megalophobia
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 megalophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of megalophobia.
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 megalophobia, 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia 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 Megalophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including megalophobia. 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia, 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 megalophobia over time.
Meditation for Megalophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from megalophobia. 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia 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 megalophobia, 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 megalophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
10 large things to test your megalophobia
Some people suffering from megalophobia may be extremely fearful of airplanes. This will not be due to the risk one would experience when being on a plane as in some rare instances they do in fact crash, but rather their fear will be due to the sheer mass of the plane itself. This is especially the case with commercial planes. Such airplanes are often extremely large, especially military planes. If someone with megalophobia were to see a very large plane, then they may experience panic-like symptoms as a result of seeing it.
Large boats, such as naval ships and yachts may also be extremely difficult look at for those suffering from megalophobia. In such a situation, someone with megalophobia may refuse to go near large bodies of water where they know they may see large ships in some way. This may mean them choosing to live in areas that are more inland and away from oceans or seas. Although doing this may help someone with megalophobia with their anxiety, going to such painstaking efforts to avoid large boats may actually worsen their fear of it in the long run due to them constantly reinforcing their fear of it.
Large mountains may be extremely anxiety provoking for someone with megalophobia. The sheer height and width of them may be overwhelming. Thus, leading them to experience panic-like symptoms. Someone with megalophobia who is also terrified of mountains specifically may make major life decisions such as refusing to live in an area where mountains may be commonplace. So, someone with megalophobia who is fearful of large mountains may choose to live in areas with relatively flat terrains. Nevertheless, merely looking at a picture of a mountain or simply thinking of them may be enough to give the person with megalophobia a very high amount of unwanted anxiety.
Just as someone suffering from megalophobia may be extremely fearful of large mountains, they may also be just as fearful of very tall buildings as well. Skyscrapers in large cities may be too much for someone with megalophobia as they may experience panic attacks when they are near them. So, someone with this condition may refuse to live in large cities or to go near them, regardless of how important it would be for them to go to one. So, someone with megalophobia who is specifically fearful of skyscrapers may decide to live in more rural areas where there are not many tall buildings, if any.
5.) Ferris wheels
Although most people associate ferris wheels with fun and enjoyment, those suffering from megalophobia may find the opposite to be true. The sheer height of most ferris wheels may give someone with an irrational fear of large things an influx of very painful anxiety. Someone experiencing such a symptom of megalophobia may refuse to go to amusement parks or other areas where ferris wheels may be found. This will likely not be very challenging for someone seeing as how ferris wheels are not commonly found in most areas. Nevertheless, someone with megalophobia may still be quite motivated to steer clear of ferris wheels as often as they can.
6.) Bodybuilders/Large People
Although not nearly as big as some of the other things found in this list, bodybuilders are anomalies which may give someone suffering from megalophobia an intense amount of dread. Depending on how large they are, merely looking at a very large bodybuilder may give rise to symptoms of panic disorder. This is also the case for athletes or non-athletes in general. Essentially, any extremely tall, wide, or overall huge person may be enough to exacerbate someone’s symptoms of megalophobia. People who find themselves in such a predicament may refuse to go to gyms, beaches, sporting events, or other areas where they may come across a very large athlete.
7.) Large trees
Coming across very large trees may also be something that is extremely difficult for someone with megalophobia to cope with. In fact, even the mere thought of very large or very tall trees may give someone suffering from megalophobia an intense amount of anxiety. Such anxiety may be so overwhelming that they may even endure full blown panic attacks as a result of it. Although this may not always be the case, it is still possible to occur nonetheless. Someone with this specific fear may refuse to live near wooded areas so that they can reduce their chances of coming across a large tree.
Large bodies of water such as oceans, seas, or lakes may be extremely anxiety provoking for someone with megalophobia as the sheer size of them may be too much for someone with this condition to handle. The vastness of the seas can give rise to feelings of intense anxiety among those suffering from megalophobia. Although there are specific phobias that involve the fear of the sea, as well as the fear of lakes, someone with megalophobia may still withhold the very same fears only due to slightly different reasons.
9.) Large sculptures
Statues and other large works of art may be enough to give someone with megalophobia panic-like symptoms. This is especially the case with extremely large sculptures, such as the statue of liberty or mount rushmore, among many others. Even large works of art nowhere near the size of the statue of liberty may be enough to cause someone’s megalophobia to flare up. This is especially the case when we realize that size itself is relative. So, a sculpture that one person deems to be frighteningly large, may not be so scary to the next person with megalophobia. So, someone suffering from megalophobia may make a conscious effort not go to art museums or other areas where large statues may be commonplace.
10.) Large animals
Large animals such as elephants, gorillas, giraffes, and whales are likely to give someone with megalophobia a very high influx of unwanted anxiety. It is important to note that such a fear is not the same as zoophobia, which is the irrational fear of animals in general. Instead, someone with megalophobia may merely be fearful of large animals specifically while not being fearful of small animals. This will not be the case for someone with zoophobia. Although there is a clear distinction between these two different phobias, it is also not implausible for someone with megalophobia to also develop zoophobia, and vice versa.