Melissophobia is the irrational fear of bees. Someone suffering with this condition will find it extremely difficult to be around bees as they will likely experience a very high influx of anxiety. In fact, in some cases their fear of bees may be so intrusive and extreme that they may experience full blown panic attacks because of it. Though this may not be common, it is definitely possible to happen insofar as they are exposed to bees for longer than they can handle.
Most people have an instinctive fear of bees only to the extent that if stung by one, it can cause pain. However, some people have insect sting allergies were if they were to be stung by a bee, it could be deadly. This realization may only exacerbate someone’s symptoms of melissophobia as realizing that some people can actually die from bee stings may then reinforce their own irrational fear of bees.
Interestingly enough, people suffering from melissophobia specifically have a fear of bees, and not of hornets or wasps. In fact, the specific phobia for people who are irrationally afraid of wasps is called spheksophobia.
So, with that being said, it may not be uncommon to find someone experiencing melissophobia to panic when they see what appears to be a bee, only to calm down moments after once they realize it was actually a wasp. This has to do with their inability to rationalize exactly what it is that they fear.
Symptoms of Melissophobia
As is the case with virtually all other phobias. Someone suffering from an irrational fear of bees can expect to experience a very high amount of anxiety that will hinder their day to day life. As previously mentioned, their anxiety may be so high that they may also experience full blown panic attacks insofar as they have the genetics to do so.
Avoidance will likely be a very common symptom for someone suffering from melissophobia. They may avoid going to certain areas or places in an attempt to limit their risk for seeing bees. They may also choose to live in large cities as opposed to living in more rural areas where bees are more likely to be found. Though avoiding their fear may give them some acute anxiety relief, it may also worsen their melissohphobia in the long-term due to the fact that by them avoiding bees, they are also reassuring to themselves that bees are worthy of being feared and avoided.
Be that as it may, regardless of where they live, they will likely not be able to completely isolate themselves from bees as they tend to be found virtually everywhere. With that being said, someone suffering from an irrational fear of bees may find day to day life to be very challenging.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of melissophobia:
Intense anxiety when seeing a bee
Anxiety when thinking of bees
Avoiding where bees may be
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
Unable to cope with their anxiety
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Melissophobia
There is no known cause of melissophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles. For instance, if someone were to have a family history of mental illness, especially of phobias, then they may have a higher chance of developing melissophobia. This may be due to them then having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness in general.
If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop a full blown fear of bees. For example, someone may develop melissophobia due to them getting stung by several bees or perhaps after having a near fatal allergic reaction to getting stung by a bee. These are just a couple of many other plausible ways that someone can be traumatized enough to develop an irrational fear of bees.
Though we do not definitively know what causes melissophobia to develop, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and environmental factors play very significant roles. So, taking a look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you are at risk for developing an irrational fear of bees.
Melissophobia Treatments (abridged)
Exposure therapy is one of the most common and effective forms of therapy for people suffering from phobias. This form of treatment works by having the therapist gradually expose the patient to their fear. In this case, she will expose the patient with melissophobia to their fear of bees. This can be done by first showing the patient a picture or video of a bee. One of the main goals of exposure therapy is to gradually desensitize them from their fear so that as time passes they will feel less anxiety when exposed to the same stimuli over time.
Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to something they fear, the less it will bother them in the long run. This may be true for people suffering with melissophobia as well. However, though exposure therapy can be very effective for most phobias, some things should be taken into consideration first, such as whether or not the patient is allergic to bees, if they are emotionally ready to be exposed to a real bee (in a concealed container), or other potential obstacles.
Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants may also be very effective for helping someone suffering from melissophobia. However, merely taking medication without any form of therapy may not be very effective for long-term recovery as they will need to learn the skills necessary to cope with their anxiety, as well as learn skills to improve the way they think about bees. Nevertheless, this is something that should first be discussed with you and your doctor.
If you think you may have melissophobia 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. Upon seeing your doctor, he may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Melissophobia
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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with melissophobia 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 melissophobia 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 Melissophobia
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 melissophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with melissophobia 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 melissophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Melissophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from melissophobia. 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia, 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 melissophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Melissophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as melissophobia. 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their melissophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with melissophobia 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 Melissophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including melissophobia. 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia, 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 melissophobia over time.
Yoga for Melissophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from melissophobia. 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia.
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 melissophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Melissophobia
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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Melissophobia
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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia. 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 melissophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Melissophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe melissophobia 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 melissophobia 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 melissophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of melissophobia.
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 melissophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.