It is a fact that cockroaches will outlive humans as they can withstand 2000 times the radiation levels than us and can also go for days without food. Such facts will not be encouraging to people who suffer from extreme cockroach phobia. The name given to such a fear of cockroaches is Katsaridaphobia.
The phobia or fear of cockroaches can be a debilitating one. A teacher had to reportedly quit her job since she could not even bear her students saying the word ‘cockroaches’ aloud. It would make her “freeze on the spot or break into a cold sweat”. Once, she even ran out of the shower with the soap still on, as she felt a cockroach had flown into the bathroom.
Thus, an extreme, persistent and unwarranted fear of cockroaches can literally turn the sufferer’s life into a nightmare.
Causes of Katsaridaphobia
Many people feel uncomfortable or afraid in the presence of insects and critters like cockroaches. Cockroaches are known to inhabit dark and warm places which are abundant with food. Often, at night or in the absence of lights, they accidentally crawl or brush over our skin. This can evoke deep fear or disgust response. Such a disgust response is usually evolutionary; our prehistoric ancestors were programmed to stay alert to these creepy crawlers when they slept in caves and out in the open.
Many times, the Katsaridaphobic individual might have had a negative or traumatic experience with cockroaches in the past. Children might have been punished or locked in closets or dark spaces where such creatures tend to hide. Such children have a greater possibility of developing cockroach phobia. Adults expressing incredible fear at the sight of a cockroach can also unknowingly pass on their fear to children watching them.
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Most childhood cases of Katsaridaphobia resolve over time. In some cases though, it can persist into adulthood.
Symptoms of fear of cockroaches
The fear of cockroaches often leads to obsessive compulsive disorder. The phobic tries to clean his/her house thoroughly to ensure these creatures stay out. Constantly spraying insecticides in the house and car, sweeping and brushing rugs and carpets, or cleaning kitchens and bathrooms etc to deter roaches are some signs of Katsaridaphobia.
Additionally, the phobic might experience following physical symptoms upon sighting a cockroach:
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- Becoming ‘paralyzed’ or staying frozen
- Crying and screaming
- Feeling dizzy or weak in the knees, fainting
- Having an elevated heart rate
- Breathing rapidly
- Having a full blown panic attack where one feels like being choked, or experiences chest pains etc.
Katsaridaphobia can sometimes get out of hand or outright dangerous when the phobic runs or darts out on the road into the traffic or tries to brush away the cockroach when driving etc which can lead to serious accidents.
The good news for people with the extreme fear of cockroaches is that it can be overcome. Many therapies are available today to help one overcome different types of specific phobias.
Gradual desensitization or exposure therapy is one of the most common methods of overcoming zoophobias like Katsaridaphobia. This includes looking at pictures of cockroaches, touching a dead cockroach and gradually progressing to being in the same room as the cockroaches without experiencing a panic attack.
Hypnotherapy is another effective way of getting over Katsaridaphobia. It can help the phobic get to the bottom of his fear and change his thoughts about cockroaches.
Cognitive behavior therapy and psychotherapy can also help one rationalize the fear of cockroaches.
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What works for one person might not always work for another. Hence, it is essential to discuss the fear with a professional openly and without feeling embarrassed. This way, the right line of treatment can be decided upon which can help one overcome Katsaridaphobia once and for all.