Symmetrophobia is the irrational fear of symmetry. This phobia is not nearly as common as more notable phobias such as the fear of the number 13, the fear of flying, and the fear of staying single. Nevertheless, symmetrophobia is still viable enough to inflict anxiety and trepidation within the individual suffering from it. In fact, their anxiety may be so intrusive that they may even need to be hospitalized if an intense enough panic attack were to ensue.
Someone suffering from symmetrophobia may find themselves experiencing extremely intense amounts of anxiety at the mere thought of something being symmetrical. Having things out of order and unsymmetrical may be so important to someone with symmetrophobia that they may find themselves obsessed with the the mere idea of it.
Symmetrophobia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may be linked together as both disorders share similar symptoms. However, this is not always the case. Someone with an irrational fear of symmetry may go to painstaking efforts to ensure that the world around them is “unsymmetrical”. Due to the fact that aesthetics is primarily subjective, this may only heighten someone’s symptoms of symmetrophobia as they may be even more incentivized to try and “correct” what is “perfect”.
In fact, someone with severe symmetrophobia may find that their symptoms are so intrusive and abysmal that they may even find it difficult to finish reading this sentence as it is significantly smaller in comparison to the paragraph before it.
Symptoms of Symmetrophobia
Someone suffering from symmetrophobia may find themselves experiencing extreme amounts of unwanted anxiety at the mere thought of something they deem to be symmetrical. They may find themselves to be overly concerned with the order of certain things or the way certain objects are positioned to one another. It is with this concern that they may find themselves worrying excessively for essentially no good reason.
As previously mentioned, someone suffering from this mental disorder may find themselves enduring panic attacks due to the intensity of their fears. Though this may not be the norm, it is still possible to occur insofar as they have the right genetic makeup. Someone with symmetrophobia may spend as much time throughout the day ensuring that everything they can control is unsymmetrical just as much as someone with OCD may spend time trying to make everything they can control symmetrical.
Their symmetrophobia may be so intrusive that it may negatively effect their relationships, as well as effecting their work life. Someone with this disorder may find themselves painfully struggling with their day job due to their intense desire to constantly be aware of the symmetry of objects and to deal with their compulsion to alter it in some capacity.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of this phobia:
- Anxiety at the thought of something being symmetrical
- Anxiety when seeing symmetry in their environment
- Unable to control very strong emotions
- May experience intense panic attacks
- Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
Causes of Symmetrophobia
There is no known cause of symmetrophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant factors. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing symmetrophobia. This may be due to them having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness. If such a case were to occur, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown symmetrophobia.
Their traumatic experience may simply be anything that has left a permanent mark in their memory, which is associated with very intense painful emotions. If someone has the right genetics, then it may be very plausible for them to develop this mental disorder. However, not much is known about symmetrophobia. It is a much more obscure phobia than say, the fear of heights or the fear of small spaces for example.
With that being said, the best we can do at this point and time is to analyze someone’s genetics, as well as their past and/or current environment. These two things alone are likely to be very significant factors for why someone may or may not develop symmetrophobia.
Just as there is no known cause of symmetrophobia, there are also no treatment methods that are specifically designed for this disorder. However, exposure therapy has been known to be very advantageous for people suffering from various phobias. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist expose the patient to that which they fear over a given amount of time. Doing this will likely give the patient a large amount of anxiety. Be that as it may, doing so will help to desensitize the patient from their fear.
It is very important that the therapist who uses exposure therapy is very adept, as well as very experienced with treating phobias. This is imperative due to the fact that if the therapist were to expose the patient to too much too soon, then it may have a counterproductive effect on the patient and may even worsen their condition altogether.
In context to symmetrophobia, the therapist may expose the patient to their fear of symmetry by purposely showing them items or pictures that are symmetrical. The therapist is likely to then gradually expose the patient to more and more as time goes on and as they become less and less effected by their fear of symmetry.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be beneficial for someone suffering from symmetrophobia. However, merely taking medication alone may not be enough to truly improve one’s symptoms in the long run as they will likely need to learn coping skills, as well as how to think differently about their fears.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Symmetrophobia
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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia 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 Symmetrophobia
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 symmetrophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Symmetrophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from symmetrophobia. 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia, 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 symmetrophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Symmetrophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as symmetrophobia. 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their symmetrophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with symmetrophobia 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 Symmetrophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including symmetrophobia. 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia, 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 symmetrophobia over time.
Yoga for Symmetrophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from symmetrophobia. 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia.
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 symmetrophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Symmetrophobia
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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Symmetrophobia
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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia. 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 symmetrophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Symmetrophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia 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 symmetrophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of symmetrophobia.
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 symmetrophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.