Can spiders get scared

Von, Masters Degree in Psychology
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The spider phobia (Arachnophobia) is one of the most common animal phobias. Many people are disgusted by the eight-legged animals, but people with a pathological fear of spiders can hardly stand the sight of spiders. They react to them with fear or even panic, often accompanied by a racing heart, sweating and shortness of breath. Read here how arachnophobia develops, how it manifests itself and what you can do about it.

What is arachnophobia?

Arachnophobia or fear of spiders is one of the so-called specific phobias. It is widespread in Europe. Around 35 percent of the people here suffer from a pathological fear of spiders.

Those affected reign inappropriately fearful of spiders. The closer the animal comes to them, the greater the fear and disgust. Even a picture or the mere idea of ​​a spider can trigger fear reactions in them.

Spider phobics are aware that their fear is exaggerated - especially since none of the spiders native to Germany can be really dangerous to a person. The native spiders in our temperate latitudes produce a poison that is very weak for humans. So the bite of a garden spider hurts no more than a mosquito bite. However, some people with arachnophobia are scared to death when confronted with a spider.

Amazingly, arachnophobia is unknown in some indigenous peoples, although some of them live in regions where the spiders are more dangerous than in Germany. The fear that arachnophobes endure is therefore not related to a real threat.

Spider phobia test

Anyone who is not sure whether they suffer from a spider phobia can carry out tests on the Internet that allow a rough assessment. There is, for example, the spider phobia questionnaire (SPF) for self-assessment.

For an accurate diagnosis, however, the person concerned should consult a doctor or psychotherapist. The doctor or therapist can use certain questions to determine the type and intensity of the phobia. In addition, the person concerned receives a suitable treatment offer.

How does arachnophobia develop?

Why some people develop arachnophobia is not yet fully understood. The rapid, scurrying movements, the lurking in secret and the sudden appearance could play a role here, which seems unpredictable and therefore threatening to people with arachnophobia.

In addition, spiders in Europe are predominantly associated with negative associations. Their unusual appearance with six eyes and eight hairy legs also makes the animals a popular leading actor in horror films. However, that alone is not enough to explain the development of arachnophobia.

The fear of spiders is often learned. It usually develops in childhood. If the parents react anxiously to spiders, the children take over the behavior. If the sight of a spider is associated with negative thoughts and feelings, the body reacts with a fast heartbeat, sweating or dizziness. The physical reaction acts as an acknowledgment of danger and increases the fear. The dreaded object is avoided in the future and the fear grows stronger over time.

Arachnophobia: Treatment

Many sufferers come to terms with their fear of spiders by avoiding contact as much as possible. This avoidance strategy usually hardly affects those affected in their everyday lives. Therefore, only a few seek treatment. Nonetheless, arachnophobia cuts those affected in their freedom. Some do not dare to go to the attic or the basement. The fear of meeting spiders is a heavy burden in the long run.

In addition, people with a phobia of spiders are often not taken seriously in society. With other people, those affected often encounter incomprehension with their panic. Asking them to pull themselves together does not help those affected. Because it is a mental disorder, therapeutic treatment is necessary. Therapy for arachnophobia has a good chance of success. If the phobia is only mild, a few hours can be enough to overcome the fear.

The spider phobia therapy recommended by experts is the so-called exposure therapy. It is a behavioral therapy method in which the patient is confronted with the fear-inducing object or the frightening situation.

For people with arachnophobia, for example, it is initially inconceivable to touch a spider or hold it in their hand. Together with a therapist it becomes possible to overcome this fear. The positive contact with the dreaded animal leads to the fact that those affected revise their previous assessment. Some people with Arachnophobia it even succeeds in seeing the spider no longer as an enemy, but as a friend and useful fly catcher.

Read more about the therapies

Read more about therapies that can help here:

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