Quite simply, someone that suffers from arachnophobia suffers from a fear of spiders. This is a hugely common phobia, and it is believed that around one-third of the population of the world suffers from this condition.
It is also an extremely old phobia with the name deriving from Ancient Greek. There is an ancient Greek myth about Arachne being turned into a spider by the Goddess Athena, so this is a condition that has blighted people for thousands of years.
Arachnophobia is regarded as a learned condition
Even though there are many different causes for arachnophobia, it is usually a learned condition. Some people will develop their fear down to the behaviour or reaction of other people or it could develop from an experience with a spider. The experience doesn’t have to be terrifying, even something as simple as being startled by a spider or walking into a web can be all that is needed for a person to develop a fear of spiders.
Symptoms associated with arachnophobia
There are many symptoms associated with arachnophobia, including an increased heart rate, experiencing dizzy spells, hysteria, chest pain, trembling, sweating and nausea. Some people will struggle to differentiate between reality and unreality while some sufferers will experience thoughts of death due to their arachnophobia.
One of the key reasons why there is a need for people to receive treatment is because it isn’t possible to guarantee you will avoid contact with spiders. Spiders can occur in many surroundings and with no warning. People who suffer from extreme arachnophobia find that it can disrupt their life to a great extent.
Some sufferers will waste a lot of their time each day looking for spiders and there are many people who have turned down fantastic travel opportunities because of their phobia. Therefore, there is often a strong desire to seek help for this problem, not just for the sufferer themselves but because this condition can impact on the life of those around them.
While the treatment of arachnophobia should be tailored to each individual, it is common for a mixture of medication and counselling to be used to treat a fear of spiders. In many cases, the use of relaxation techniques, with meditation being a suitable example, helps in allowing people to be in the correct mind-frame to tackle the problem.
As is the case with many phobias, exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT, is used to treat arachnophobia. With CBT, the therapist will try to replace the negative connotations of a spider with thoughts that are more rational and logical.
In some cases, medication that promotes anti-anxiety feelings or which are regarded as anti-depressants are used to battle the condition. In the present day, there is a growing focus on virtual reality therapy techniques to help sufferers overcome their fear of spiders. Over time, the use of virtual reality spiders can be segued into the use of real spiders, helping the sufferer to overcome their fear in a gradual manner.